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RENT RELIEF: Emergency funds for those affected by COVID-19

PATH is disbursing $7 million in aid.

SMITH COUNTY, Texas — Rental assistance is here to help those who have been affected by COVID-19.
Mark Richardson with PATH said, "It's everything. It means they get to live in their homes longer."

He also said that without the funding, the population of people homeless in Smith County would have exploded.

"I've had so many families just in tears. I had one lady tell me 'I finally get to sleep after six months,'" he said.

His partner, Executive Director Andrea Wilson, agreed that this help came just in time to give some stability in a hectic housing market.

"The rent in Tyler and Smith County are on the rise. I think a two bedroom two bath is right at just under $1,000 a month for the fair market rent," she said.

Apartment List's rent report shows that Tyler is seeing a 2.9% month over month increase in rent. Property manager Hannah Hearn said it's because of demand and in this age of uncertainty, people aren't moving as much.

"Since the demand is so high, that's what drives up the prices," she said, "People are willing to pay more when they're desperate."

Credit: TEGNA

For many families affected by COVID-19, they can't afford to pay more. That's where the relief fund comes in. There's roughly $5.5 million left of the grant just waiting on qualified applicants.

Richardson added, “The requirements just for your information are you have to rent in Smith County, you need to be 18 years or older or emancipated. You also must meet an income household income guideline. That's 80% of the average median income for our county.”

You have to have been affected by COVID-19. If that's you, aim to get your application in by the end of September. There are funds for utility bills as well as landlords looking to recoup some of their past rent they have not received.

Rent assistance is available year-round, not just in this emergency fund. This means that even if you weren’t directly affected by COVID, you can still get help. Call (903) 597- PATH to hear your options.