By Jason Allen

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – For months cities pushed to get the word out.

Anyone during the pandemic who lost a job, lost money, and might lose a place to live, had a lifeline.

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Millions of dollars were available.

Now in November, the applications are piling up.

Fort Worth has hired more people to keep up with the phone calls and emails.

Arlington has put 32 people to work since the spring and is trying to bring in more.

Tarrant County on Tuesday adjusted its policy to make approvals easier, and move applications through faster.

“We’ve also pulled some people working on other assignments in our department to assist us as well,” said Terrance Jones Tuesday, in Fort Worth’s neighborhood services department.

The rush of applications comes as the state rental assistance program stopped accepting applications last week, calculating it would soon run out of money to disperse.

It was the first place people were directed when facing possible eviction during the pandemic.

Now local programs are seeing evidence of the need they said all along was out there, but just wasn’t making it to them.

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“There is ample funding available at the local level,” said Kristen Camareno, an assistant administrator in Tarrant County.

Though she estimated the county had either dispersed or committed $6 million so far, it still has another $40 million left.

Fort Worth has expended as much as $20 million in assistance, but has another $35 million available.

Arlington has committed more than $7.6 million from its first allotment of funds, with another $4.4 million still available, and a second allocation of $9 million just starting to be tapped.

Mindy Cochran said her team in Arlington is working overtime, prioritizing applications based on how close people are to eviction.

Applications are coming through fast enough that the city’s first round of funding could run out by March or April of 2022.

At the Tarrant County Commissioners meeting Tuesday the commission approved changes to eligibility requirements.

Hardship doesn’t necessarily have to be directly due to the pandemic, but just during the time period. It also removed some requirements for financial documents, allowing renters to simply attest to their situation.

Agencies in each government encouraged applicants to go online to start the process here.

And they asked for patience from tenants and landlords, as they worked through the surge.

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“If they were impacted during the pandemic, no matter what that is, if they have a need we can assist them,” Jones said.