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Turner: City to celebrate HS seniors; $15M rental assistance program to benefit more than 6K households

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner gives daily coronavirus press briefing on May 6, 2020.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner gives daily coronavirus press briefing on May 6, 2020. (KPRC)

HOUSTON – Mayor Sylvester Turner announced the city’s first-ever virtual, citywide celebration for graduating seniors Wednesday in a press conference after coronavirus closures threw a wrench in their senior year plans.

On June 5, Turner said all seniors will gather at their high schools, while practicing social distancing, to be congratulated in person and virtually. He asked seniors to come dressed in their caps, gowns and masks so the city can show its support in unity to them for all of their hard work.

More cases, deaths

The city reported 77 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, bringing the city’s total to 4,139. Turner also reported three new coronavirus-related deaths, bringing the city’s total to 82. He said of the total deaths in Houston, 19 were linked to nursing homes.

Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña said 48 firefighters are in quarantine, 41 have tested positive for COVID-19 so far and of that number, 35 have since returned to work.

$15 million rental assistance program

Turner said a new $15 million rental assistance program will help struggling Houstonians cover rent for the months of April and May for renters in a total of at least $2,000 per household. He said BakerRipley, a local nonprofit, will be administrating the rental assistance program from the federal CARES Act.

RELATED: Mayor Turner details new $15 million rental assistance program for Houstonians

“The program provides much-needed assistance for our residents. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected constituents economically, forcing many to make tough choices,” Turner said. “While this rent relief fund will help thousands of people, we know thousands more will need help. We are trying to do as much as we can with the little that we have.”

He said the $15 million will come from federal funding and will not apply to undocumented residents in Houston. The program is expected to help at least 6,818 households.

Landlords can now begin enrolling on the program’s website. The portal will open to tenants on May 13.

READ ALSO: Group calls on mayor to increase fund to help Houstonians pay rent to $100M

“BakerRipley is honored to continue our mission, with the City’s committed support, to meet the needs of some of our most vulnerable communities,” said Claudia Aguirre, President and CEO of BakerRipley. “The BakerRipley Rental Assistance Program is a critical program for many neighbors who struggled before this crisis and have seen those struggles exacerbated in the face of COVID-19. Recovery starts now. It starts with each individual and organization across this region, doing their part to keep this city a welcoming center of opportunity. Thank you, Mayor Turner, for your continued leadership and work on behalf of this amazing and resilient city.”’

Here are the following terms for landlords who agree to participate in the program:

  • Waive all late fees, penalties, and interest for April and May
  • Allow tenants to enter a payment plan for any rent due in excess of $1,056
  • Rescind any prior notice to vacate and halt any prior eviction proceedings for the two months

Here are the following requirements renters must meet:

  • Live inside the city of Houston
  • Be late on residential rental payments for either or both the months of April and May
  • Be current on their rent for all months prior to April 2020
  • Affirm that their inability to pay is due to financial hardship resulting from the economic impact of COVID-19
  • Have income less than 80% of the Area Median Income (approximately $40,000 for one person or $60,000 for a family of four) or qualify for one of the programs listed in the application (e.g. Medicaid, WIC, SNAP, Head Start, or VA Pension)

Watch the mayor’s full press conference below:

WATCH LIVE: Mayor Turner to celebrate high school seniors during daily briefing on COVID-19.

Posted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Wednesday, May 6, 2020

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