The CARES Act — the federal stimulus signed into law on March 27, 2020 — authorized substantial fund transfers from the U.S. Treasury to cities and counties in Texas with populations over 500,000. These funds are aimed at supporting local governments as they respond to the harrowing conditions induced by the COVID-19 pandemic, including an ongoing wave of evictions and foreclosures. As unemployment spikes, and without urgent relief forthcoming from the State of Texas, local government is all that stands between many low-income renters and homelessness.
Texas Housers recently announced a new initiative that will monitor the policy responses of Texas’s largest counties and cities as they expend CARES Act funds to address the housing crisis. Housers will track local government press releases, city council meetings, budget proposals, and action plans, which outline the intended uses of the funds. Our aim is to ensure that the funds are spent in a manner that is transparent, equitable, and maximally impactful on our state’s most vulnerable populations.
Housers will develop a scorecard to compare and analyze the responses of the counties and cities in Texas receiving CARES Act funds. The scorecard will initially focus on localities which received a direct transfer from the U.S. Treasury, such as Austin, Bexar County, Collin County, Dallas County, Dallas, Denton County, El Paso County, El Paso, Fort Bend County, Fort Worth, Harris County, Hidalgo County, Houston, Montgomery County, San Antonio, Tarrant County, Travis County, and Williamson County.
The rent relief allocations given in the table above represent figures in official announcements by local governments in Texas. In some cases, rent relief has been accompanied by allocations for other housing-related needs, as well as utilities and nutrition, which are not represented in the table.
The full scorecard is still under development, but will include metrics and commentary examining the transparency, allocation, and implementation of the programs funded by the CARES Act. The scorecard will be released and updated regularly on the Texas Housers website as cities and counties respond to the housing crisis. Texas Housers encourages local governments to strive for transparency and to support this effort to assist the public and policymakers understand the scope of, and to refine policy solutions to, the housing crisis precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Austin: https://austintexas.gov/department/city-council/2020/20200528-spec.htm
Fort Worth: https://fortworthtexas.gov/news/2020/05/COVID-19-Housing-Assistance-Funds/
Fort Bend: http://coronavirusfortbend.gov/forms-covid19-rental-assistance-program.html
San Antonio: https://www.scribd.com/document/463461550/Resiliency-and-Recovery-Plan#from_embed
- US Census (V2019)