When Kylah Johnson, 25, lost her job as a line runner at a DeSoto restaurant due to COVID-19 lockdowns, she didn’t expect to be out of work for so long.
Just as she was starting to feel the financial squeeze, Johnson received an email from her former employer about emergency housing assistance from Dallas County.
“I didn’t know if it was actually going to go through so I just emailed the people and they emailed me back really fast,” Johnson told Dallas Express. “They sent papers to my landlord. After they were filled out, all I had to do was sign.”
The mother of three daughters was granted the financial aid and expects to have her rent paid until the end of the year while she searches for new employment.
“It’s good to know they are helping us,” she said in an interview.
Johnson is among the more than 1,000 Dallas residents who have received financial aid to make rent, mortgage, water, and electricity payments through the 2021 Emergency Housing Assistance Program.
“We continue to receive applications on a daily basis,” said Christian Grisales, public information officer with the Dallas County Health & Human Services. “A number of people have been able to get the benefit.”
Although originally the program was a lottery, now it operates on a first come, first serve basis.
“The reason why is because the program was expanded,” Grisales told Dallas Express. “Now we have more funds available and we want to be able to help as many people as possible.”
The amount of funds totals $60 million, which originated from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, according to media reports.
“Roughly, we have close to $59 million left or a little bit less than that and there’s more money that was funded from another program,” Grisales said in an interview. “The point is that we do have the funds available and we want people to apply because we understand there is still a lot going on out there in the community. People can’t find work or they can’t pay the rent.”
Those other programs include the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), which is funded by The U.S. Department of Treasury through the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. ERAP can pay up to one year’s rent and utilities including back rent. If there is consent, landlords and property owners are permitted to apply on behalf of their tenants.
In lieu of a statewide eviction ban, the Texas Eviction Diversion Program provides a way for Dallas residents to secure financial aid in order to remain in their homes.
“We’ve been working with the local courts [to] help those folks and prevent evictions,” Grisales added.