UPDATE: Dallas Rental, Mortgage Assistance Program Reaches Capacity In 36 Hours: ‘This Was Like A Category 5 Hurricane’

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – On the first day the City of Dallas started accepting applications for its new housing assistance program, more than 13,000 people applied.

But for many residents, the beginning of the application process was marked by technical glitches.

“I understand the @CityofDallas website is having issues….I’m told our IT folks are working on it, and some people have still been able to submit their applications. I know it’s frustrating. Keep trying to reload if you can,” tweeted Mayor Eric Johnson.

Lakia Parker found the website down and the phone lines busy.

But 90 minutes later, she was able to access the online application.

“I started applying at 9 this morning, like 9 on the dot,” said Parker, a freelance videographer who is two months behind on rent.

“I just don’t want to be one of those people who is overlooked,” Parker said. “I still got to pay my rent too.”

By late morning, it appeared the glitch had been mostly fixed. But the demand was undeniable.

Within the first 15 minutes, 936 applications had been submitted, according to figures provided by a city spokeswoman. By 10 a.m., the total had risen to 1,560 applicants.

By 3 p.m., 13,139 applications had been submitted and 420 calls had been answered.

“I would say we were definitely prepared, but people need to understand the demand and issue out there in terms of what’s happening on the ground,” said the city’s Chief of Economic Development and Neighborhood Services Eric Anthony Johnson. “We are talking about an economic event of epic proportions, the likes we haven’t seen since the Great Depression.”

Johnon said the program, which set aside $13.7 million, will likely only be enough to help 1,000 households.

“Truthfully, I anticipate this running for a maximum of 72 hours,” Johnson said. “I see this as a fast-moving process.”

Most of the program funds come from the CARES Act.

Johnson said if Congress approves another relief package, the city will look to continue the assistance program.

James Hunt said he hopes the site’s technical issues this morning did not interfere with his chance to receive relief. The system kicked him off before he was finished applying. He was eventually able to submit his application later in the morning.

“It is on a first come first serve basis, so I don’t know if my application was early in the process or if I was two hours behind everyone else,” said Hunt, who runs a marketing agency. “If I can just get rid of my largest expense over the next few months, I can focus on getting back in business and taking that load off of me.”

Hunt said he already had to move to a cheaper apartment because he could no longer afford rent at his place near the Dallas Farmers’ Market.

Applicants must meet certain requirements in order to qualify.

They must prove they lost their job or income due to COVID-19.

Additionally, residents must provide certain documents in order to qualify.

Read more about what paperwork you’ll need here.

If accepted, applicants can receive up to $1,500 per household per month. Eligibility determines how long they can receive the funds, which can range from up to three to 24 months.

If approved, the funds will be paid directly to landlords, loan providers or utility providers in approximately three to four weeks, according to Johnson.

Residents who do not qualify include

-City employees and their immediate family members

-People living in public housing

-People receiving housing vouchers

-Families living in units owned by immediate family members

-Households that have already received federal CARES Act relief from another agency

-Households earning more than 80% of the area’s median income

Applicants can start the process online or by calling 469-749-6500, Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.