DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The Texas Rent Relief program has helped tens of thousands of renters avoid being evicted.
But the $1.3-billion federally funded program has also been plagued with backlogs and mistakes, including sending payments to the wrong people.READ MORE: Denton Police Mourning Passing Of Detective Rodney Mooneyham To COVID
When Patrice Hill of Dallas lost her job as a substitute teacher when schools went online during the pandemic, she struggled to keep up with her bills.
In June, Hill applied online with Texas Rent Relief program. For weeks, she didn’t hear back.
Then earlier this month, she logged onto her account and noticed she had been approved.
She also noticed something odd on her account.
Listed under landlord was not the landlord she listed on her application. It was a name she had never seen before.
“I’m was like, ‘who is this person?’” recalled Hill. “I emailed my landlord I’m like, ‘hey do you know who this is?’ He said, ‘absolutely not.’”
Hill said she immediately called the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs and told the state agency it had the wrong landlord on her account.
“They said, ‘Well, ma’am, we’re sorry. We can’t unattached this person.’ That was the explanation,” Hill recalled.READ MORE: Dak TD Pass To CeeDee Lifts Dallas Cowboys To 35-29 Overtime Win Over Patriots
Hill said she was told her account would be “escalated” but a couple weeks later $7,200 from her account was sent to the wrong landlord.
“I actually cried,” she said. “I was hesitant to even apply because I have never applied for any government help before. Then I was like why did this happen to me. I did everything the right way.”
Hill called for weeks trying to get someone to fix her account.
When Hill was unable to get anyone with the state’s department of housing to help, she reached out to the CBS 11 I-Team.
The I-Team contacted Texas’ housing department and the state agency said it would investigate Hill’s case.
A couple days later a government spokesperson told the I-Team somewhere in the application process they made a mistake – calling it a “human error”.
The spokesperson said, “This is frustrating for everyone involved and we’re doing everything we can to help this applicant by redirecting the funds as quickly as possible. We wish it didn’t happen.”
Hill said she is fortunate that her landlord has been understanding while they wait for the state to fix the problem.
“We all make mistakes but I think this is a situation that could have been fixed before it became a mistake,” Hill said.MORE NEWS: Police Arrest Adan Garcia For DWI Crash That Killed 3, Including Pregnant Woman And Her Child
The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs said it has started a thorough review of what led to this error to prevent further occurrences.