Killeen city leaders to consider housing assistance grant worth more than $239,000

Posted at 11:07 PM, Feb 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-09 00:07:25-05

KILLEEN, TX — Killeen City Council will consider accepting a $239,000 grant from the Texas Department of Housing and Community to help with emergency rental assistance.

Eligible households must have incomes at or below 80% of Area Median Income (AMI).

The program can pay up to six months of an eligible household's rent, including rent in arrears, with at least one of those months covering a month of future rent or for rental payments going forward. Any rental payments going forward must be for consecutive months, with a limit of six months.

The money will also help fund the Texas Eviction Diversion Program.

“The difference in that, one is that will potentially allow us to pay a deposit and first month’s rent for those citizens that have been evicted or whose landlords do not want to participate in the funding through the City or the government,” said Killeen City Councilwoman Mellisa Brown.

Ten percent of funds are for the Texas Eviction Diversion Program. The program provides rental assistance to tenants who have been sued for eviction, providing the landlord and tenant an alternative to eviction. It also allows eligible applicants who have fallen behind on their rent because of the impact of COVID-19 and whose landlords have initiated eviction proceedings to stay in their homes

With a diversion program, citizens who qualify need to be referred to the program by a county judge.

It’s been nearly a year since the pandemic, and a lot of Central Texans are still desperate for help to pay rent, utilities and more housing bills.

“Just at the beginning of the year, we finally got our funding for the second round of emergency CARES Act rental assistance. What’s in a couple weeks, we’ve expended all of those funds,” said Brown.

There’s also a lot of people, like LaShawn Bell, who didn’t quite qualify for rental assistance or unemployment and took out loans or took on multiple jobs to make ends meet.

“I don’t have a personal computer to do it, and a lot of these jobs are not giving out personal computers. All these other jobs that you can actually go in, they're not enough to pay my bills and minimum wage jobs,” she said.

Bell says she’s had to take time to care for her sick friends and family members, but bills continue to pile up.

The Killeen City Council will be meeting to discuss and vote on accepting the grant money during their meeting Tuesday.