Rental assistance could be on the way for a portion of Dallas renters who have lost their jobs or had their incomes scaled back due to the economic fallout from the coronavirus.
Details are still coming together, but Dallas Housing Director David Noguera on Tuesday said the city will look to revise its tenant-based rental program to address the COVID-19 crisis. It could also use federal stimulus money to stand up an additional rental assistance program. Both would target households earning less than 80 percent of the Dallas area median income of $53,500 in 2019.
Specifics such as how much assistance each family would be eligible to receive or how long it would last—Noguera floated anywhere from three to 24 months—are still to be determined. The city has to see how much money makes it to Dallas from the record $2 trillion stimulus package and is waiting on income-specific local data. The package includes $5 billion for Community Development Block Grants, a program that equips cities with money to help low- and moderate-income people afford housing and help incentivize opportunities for jobs. The Dallas Workforce Commission has already joined with the Dallas Regional Chamber and the county to create a job hub for displaced workers.
“We are hoping to right-size our program based on the target population’s needs,” Noguera told the City Council’s Ad Hoc Economic Recovery and Assistance Committee on Tuesday.
The Texas Workforce Commission has been flooded with calls from people filing for unemployment benefits. TWC Executive Director Ed Serna said last week the agency is getting as many as 30,000 new claims a day. Meanwhile, businesses who layoff at least 50 people have to notify TWC of their decision, and since March 20, Dallas County is averaging about one major layoff event per business day, immediate losses ranging from 79 to 222 jobs.
Noguera says residential rental properties inside city limits would be eligible, and that the money could be used for rent as well as utility payments. City Council would have to approve the change to the tenant-based rental program. Meanwhile, Noguera says the city could stand up an additional assistance program within 30 days of receiving federal funds. Dallas County has halted evictions through May 18.