WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — During uncertain times, one thing remains certain: the rent is still due. For Wichita Falls Housing Authority resident Quintisha Johnson, working two jobs and taking care of four boys is not only stressful—it’s necessary.
“Oh it’s been hard on just like paying bills period, it’s been real hard,” Quintisha said.
Yet, rental assistance is here to help many tenants like Quintisha, many just aren’t aware. In September, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued a nationwide evictions moratorium, blocking millions of renters from being evicted through December 31.
$171 million in Cares Act funding has also been put toward rental assistance programs all throughout Texas, as pushed by Gov. Greg Abbott.
ROSS program coordinator with the Wichita Falls Housing Authority, Paris Ward said through Cares Act funds, they’ve been able to provide a year’s supply of PPE and financial help to low-income renters who have been directly impacted by COVID-19.
“We have paid for childcare, transportation through taxi and bus passes, we’ve also paid for the internet for any household that has a child grade kindergarten through 12th, whether they’re remote or face to face, we’re paying for their internet services from September through December,” says Paris.
The one thing they can’t do however, is pay other people’s rent. Something the Housing Authority’s Executive Director Donna Piper said is a misconception that’s resulted in 60 tenants falling behind on their rent.
“I think there’s a confusion as to what a rent moratorium is,” says Donna. “It doesn’t mean the rent is going away, it is still going to accumulate, what it means is we can’t evict you. On this CDC declaration that came out, they need to come in and sign it if they meet the guidelines and work with us to try to get their rent paid up so that we can do some payment arrangements, and starting this month October 1, late fees are accumulating.”
Donna adds that falling behind on rent not only hurts you in the long run, but it also hurts the staff at the Housing Authority, which can’t afford to evict anyone and create a boom in vacancies.
I think people are kind of scared, ‘oh my god, I owe them $2,000’ that’s a lot of money!” Donna said. “But, if you come in and talk to us, my goal right now is to work with you and get you back on track.”
“It was a church program that helps people pay rent, it helped me get my rent paid and to where I could continue to stay here,” Quintisha said.
Paris said current or future tenants can come to the WFHA leasing office Mon-Fri, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and request the CDC form among other things.
For a link to the Wichita Falls Housing Authority website, click here.