DALLAS (CBSDFW) – When the pandemic hit and unemployment spiked, millions of Americans were left wondering if they could make their next rent payment.
As part of the CARES Act, the federal government approved millions of dollars for short-term rental assistance programs. However, for some, who were approved for the financial assistance, they are now being told they may not get it.
Anne Mahlin of Dallas applied through the City of Dallas for COVID-19 impacted rent assistance.
Like many Texans, rent had become hard for Mahlin to pay ever since the COVID-19 crisis nearly eliminated her income.
A few weeks after she applied, the City of Dallas sent her a letter saying she was approved for three months’ worth of rent.vAll that was left was for her landlord at her apartment complex to sign off so the city could sent her apartment the rent money directly.
However, according to emails, when the city reached out to management at The Nash apartments, management wrote it was not approved to sign the contract to accept the money at this time.
The city tried for weeks to get an answer from The Nash apartments, until the city finally told Mahlin it could no longer hold the money for her.
Her case worker wrote in an email, “Unfortunately, we cannot continue to hold your file … we will have to close your file ineligible, per management decline to participate.”
”My reaction was like what happened?,” explained Mahlin. “They (The Nash) should accept the check. It’s sent directly to them. They get paid.”
The CBS 11 I-Team reached out to The Nash apartments to ask why it had not accepted the money from the assistance program.
In a statement, the Dallas apartment complex wrote, “The City of Dallas – HOME Rental Assistance Contract is much more than just an agreement to help a resident with their rent. It is a long and detailed contract that requires review by our legal counsel. We believe the review will be completed shortly and that the agreement will be signed.”
Because of the delays to sign the contract, the city told Mahlin she must re-apply for rent help and she is not guaranteed to be approved again.
Mahlin said she will reapply.
Other tenants at different apartment complexes across North Texas have also reached out to the CBS 11 I-Team sharing similar predicaments.
Sandy Rollins with the Texas Tenants’ Union said she is not surprised.
“Unfortunately, we’ve seen landlords refuse to take rent help in the past. We’ve seen it with COVID-19 rent assistance but we’ve seen it even before COVID-19 happened.”
Rollins said Texas landlords are not required to accept the money from the assistance program and don’t have to give a reason why.
However, when landlord don’t take this money, she said, it can lead to evictions and even homelessness for some tenants.
“For landlords to turn away help that tenants have gone through a lot of hoops to try and provide to meet their obligations is really hard to understand,” she said. “It doesn’t make sense.”
The City of Dallas said the majority of landlords when asked have signed off to accept the money from assistance program.
So far, at least, eight have refused to accept the money on behalf of their tenants and an unknown number have delayed a decision.
Meanwhile, the city says it still has $3 million in rent assistance available.