Due to the COVID pandemic, many people were and are still unable to pay their rent. Because the government stepped in and would not allow landlords to evict tenants, people have been able to stay in their rental property, while their delinquent rent continued to add up each month.
But, a new program that will help these very people will begin on Monday, June 14.
Brazoria County has been given $11.3 million by the federal government as part of the C.A.R.E.S. Act to aid residents with delinquent rent. The funds will be administered through Judge Matt Sebesta’s office and will be aided by a group of volunteers from churches throughout the county.
In Alvin, the churches are St. John the Baptist Catholic Church and Grace Episcopal Church.
Father John Taosan, Pastor of Saint John the Baptist Church contacted The Metropolitan Organization in Houston to help coordinate the effort because so many people were in need.
The volunteers will help residents with the application process to receive rental assistance. The form will be on line and has been simplified for the benefit of the applicants. Residents can come to either church and get help, but must bring certain documents with them. They include: driver licenses, past due rental notices, and any other paperwork that shows they have not paid their rent and the landlord has notified them that it is now past due.
The hours of availability for St. John the Baptist Church are by appointment only.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment.
Both English and Spanish speaking volunteers will be on hand to help with the application process.
The Grace Episcopal Church volunteers will be available in the Alvin Library from 10 a.m. to1 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturday morning from 10 a.m. to12 noon.
“This program represents a huge effort for the benefit of the people of Brazoria County,” said Cherie Thompson, who was asked to head up the program by Grace Church and help set up the locations and volunteers to assist the public.
“There will be more volunteers coming from other churches,” she added.
“Volunteers are the backbone of the program. Without them, we could not execute it. They are donating their time because they believe the need is so great.” Anyone interested in volunteering can call or text 832-878-5052.
The funds for the rental assistance will be available until 2022, depending on demand and applicants must meet certain requirements to qualify. If approved, the rent that is owed on their rental property will be paid directly to their landlord.
The program has criteria that must be met: renters must have a written lease, and cannot be renting month to month.
A formula will be used on each individual application and covers rent that has been behind since April 2020. Late fees and penalties will not be covered. However, utilities may be covered, according to Thompson.
Forms will ask for such things as when the lease was signed, and what period of time rent was not collected. Landlords must also provide several documents and information to qualify.
In some specific cases, rent payments for up to three month in advance can be arranged, but the program is specifically set up to pay past due rent to landlords.
Among the documents that must be filed are: household income. Other required documentation includes: valid government issued photo ID, passport or driver’s license; tax returns from 2020, W-2 wage statements from 2020, bank statements showing regular income, and other documents.
Volunteers will provide a packet of the documents and forms for each family wishing to apply. Applicants will have 10 business days to respond and submit information that has been requested.