DALLAS - The city of Dallas has announced rent and mortgage assistance initiatives to help people during the of the coronavirus crisis.
Councilman Chad West said $13.7 million will be available for renters or homeowners who qualify for the program.
“To qualify, you have to generally be under 80% AMI [area median income] so making as a family of four about $66,000 or less. The majority of the money, however, is earmarked for AMI levels of 50% or below meaning a little bit less than that,” he said.
RELATED: Coronavirus coverage
Depending on the program people qualify for, Councilman West said it can pay for three to six months of mortgage or rent. It can also utilities.
The money does not have to be paid back.
“The money is actually distributed directly to the landlord or to the bank,” West said.
Didn’t Dallas County have trouble paying pensions for its first responders not too long ago? Where is all this money coming from?
“In this case, these are funds that are earmarked for these programs that have been sent to us by the federal government. So this came out of the CARE Act and it’s new money that wasn’t already in the Dallas budget that’s allocated just for these programs,” West answered.
Where do I go to sign up and to make sure I’m first in line for the assistance?
For more information, visit dallascityhall.com/Pages/Coronavirus-Resources.aspx.
Councilman West said the city won’t begin accepting applications until around May 4 with the funds being distributed closer to June.
My landlord is threatening to evict me now. What should I do?
Dallas County has ordered landlords to put a stay on evictions. West said evictions themselves will be halted until May 23.
“Even if you are in default of your lease, your eviction should be halted. You should not be taken to court. There are no courts processing evictions at all until May 23 in Dallas County. And that includes most of the city of Dallas as well,” he said. “This additional protection that the city passed provides a requirement that the landlord give a 21-day COVID-related notice that is provided to the tenant and then after the tenant gets that notice, they’ve got a time period to be able to respond and actually pay rent back which is 60 days after that 21-day notice period.”
Landlords can still technically lock a tenant out but West doesn’t believe that will happen.
“Your recourse is to communicate with the landlord, explain what’s going on and the landlord should let you back into your unit,” he said.
If they don’t, he encouraged people to contact an attorney to seek legal action.
Is this just for residents or does it apply to businesses too?
The halt on evictions only applies to residents. But on the commercial side, West said the constables who would typically be called out to physically move stuff out of a space aren’t doing that right now.
“What should be happening is if a landlord is wanting to push out a commercial tenant, the landlord should be communicating with the tenant in that case,” he said.
Does the protection program only help people who have become delinquent since the coronavirus crisis started or can people who were previously delinquent get help too?
“I think it’s a legal question that we need to clarify but I don’t think it necessarily matters at this point because evictions are going to be halted anyway until May 23,” the councilman said.
To be clear, the financial assistance is for people living in the city of Dallas, not in other parts of Dallas County or North Texas.