I Belong in Austin
The I Belong in Austin program provides tenant rental assistance to residents vulnerable to eviction.
The Housing Department’s goal is to provide financial assistance with rent, moving, storage, and relocation costs to keep people in their homes in Austin, preventing individuals and families from experiencing homelessness, and assist households in the case of emergency events (weather, public health, fire, etc.)
- Who is Eligible
Client Eligibility includes:
1) Eligibility shall be based on the client’s gross annual household income and may not exceed eighty percent (80%) of the Fiscal Year 2023 Area Median Family Income (AMFI) limits for the Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, TX MSA. This means that the income of every adult, as provided by the applicant, that resides in the eligible property, must be factored into the income calculation. Please use the table below to calculate the AMFI.
Median Income Limit 1 Person Household 2 Person Household 3 Person Household 4 Person Household 5 Person Household 6 Person Household 7 Person Household 8 Person Household *80% 65,450 74,800 84,150 93,450 100,950 108,450 115,900 123,400
(80% MFI is defined by HUD as low-income)
2) Housing is located in the City of Austin full-purpose jurisdiction.
- Application Process & What You Can Expect
Visit the El Buen Samaritano Financial and Rental Assistance page to find the Application Portal and next steps after applying. Application assistance is available in multiple languages.
- Applications can be submitted 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from any smartphone, mobile device, or computer with Internet access until program funds are spent.
- A Call Center is open every Monday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Call (737) 214-7406.
- Walk-ins are available every Tuesday from 1 - 4 p.m. at the El Buen campus located at 7000 Woodhue Drive, Austin, TX, 78745
What You Can Expect
Applicants will complete and submit applications using an online portal. Please submit only one application per household. Applying multiple times will not increase your chances of being selected.
Applicants will be led through a series of questions to determine preliminary eligibility, which requires applicants to input their rental location, income, and contact information.
Each applicant will receive confirmation that the application has been successfully submitted and received. If applicants don't pass the preliminary eligibility, they will be informed. Note: Applicants who do not pass the preliminary eligibility will not be placed in the application selection process.
2. Weekly Random Selections
Applications are selected every Thursday.
For Renters: If an application is selected, the applicant will receive an encrypted email with next steps and instructions to set up access to their Client Profile in the I Belong in Austin (IBIA) Client Portal. Note: this is not required, but this tool will be available for all selected applicants.
El Buen will assist clients who do not have the necessary technology to submit the required documentation. Clients who do not speak English or Spanish will be given a link to call the IBIA Call Center (737-214-7406) for assistance with submitting documents.
Using the IBIA Client Portal, clients will be able to:
- View their profile
- Check their application status
- Review instructions for next steps
- Upload necessary documentation
For Landlords/Vendors: If a renter’s application is selected, and after the client signs the consent form, an IBIA Program representative from El Buen Samaritano will contact the Landlord/Vendor to confirm participation and request the required Landlord/Vendor documents (see step 3).
Staff will review documents and request additional documents if needed.
Renter Required Documentation:
- Proof of identification (any form of ID with photo and name, any government-issued ID or passport, school ID, organization ID, or public assistance card *may link to library card*)
- Income eligibility determination/documentation (Ex: paystub, employer letter, tax documentation, proof of SNAP or Medica benefits)
- Documentation to display eviction risk (Ex: notice from landlord or any intent to vacate notice from landlord, referral from legal entity assigned to client assistance case, or ledger that has an outstanding balance)
Landlord/Vendor Required Documentation:
- W9 Form Request for payment
- Acknowledgement of Payment
- Rent/lease documentation
If moving and storage services are needed:
Clients are responsible for the Vendor selection and booking of approved services. Vendor documents must be secured within 5 business days of contacting the vendor. If vendors have questions or concerns about the program or documentation process, El Buen staff will be available to speak with vendors at (737) 214-7406.
4. Eligibility Determination
El Buen Program staff will verify information and determine the renter's eligibility. The eligibility decision is provided to the renter and the landlord.
Payments by ACH (electronic transfers to a provided bank account) or check made directly to the landlord.
Once all documentation from the applicant and landlord is received, El Buen will then submit requests for payment to pay the landlord or vendor. Note: applicants can check their application status at any time through the I Belong in Austin (IBIA) Client Portal.
The I Belong in Austin program provides up to *$6,000 of assistance (*based on the applicant’s needs assessment) per funding year while funds remain available.
6. Applications Not Selected
All submitted applications will remain active and eligible for random selection until January 1st.
After January 1st, all applicants not selected by the random process will be notified to reapply again on a quarterly basis (90 days). You will receive a notice of not being selected and can reapply again.
Note: Only one application per household will be accepted per quarter. Applying multiple times will not increase your chances of being selected.
- Previous Programs
The RENT program has disbursed all currently available funding. The application portal is now closed. Please sign up here to be notified (Web) should additional funding become available.
El programa RENT ha desembolsado todos los fondos disponibles actualmente. El portal para presentar aplicaciones está cerrado. Inscríbase aquí para ser notificado (Web) en caso de que se disponga de financiación adicional.
The RENT Assistance Program helped renters financially impacted by the pandemic pay rent as far back as April 2020 and up to 3 months in the future, up until December 2021. This program helped pay for:
- Up to 18 total months of rent incurred between April, 2020, through December 31, 2021. This includes rent that is due now, rent that is overdue (including late fees), and future rent during this time period.
- Other items described in your lease agreement, including internet services, utilities included with rent, and fees for garage use, storage, service animals, and pets. The funds may not be used to pay for tenant damages.
- Rent payments are made directly to the landlord/property manager/property owner who is owed the rent.
- Multiple months of past-due rent can be approved at once. Future rents are screened for eligibility every 3 months.
The call center is available 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and is fluent in English and Spanish. If you speak Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Burmese, Urdu, or Vietnamese, you will be prompted to select your primary language and leave a voicemail. Your call will be returned within 24-48 hours with an interpreter on the line.
Reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities are available. Please tell us if you require reasonable accommodation to apply for RENT. The RENT Assistance Program receives and accepts Video Relay Service (VRS) calls from people who are Deaf or hard-of-hearing.
The Relief of Emergency Needs for Tenants (RENT) program launched on May 1, 2020, as part of the City's response to the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). The program distributed one-time rental subsidies for persons impacted financially by COVID-19 through a lottery system similar to HACA’s Housing Choice Voucher program. Funds were paid directly to the landlords/property owners.
The RENT program served nearly 1,680 households, providing more than $1.2 million in emergency rental assistance.
Of the households served, nearly two-thirds earned at or below 30% of the Median Family Income (MFI).
Total Amount Duration Funding Source Persons Helped Initial $1.2 million May 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021 Housing Trust Funds 1,681 households
The City of Austin, together with the Housing Authority of the City of Austin, launched an expansion for rental assistance on August 17, 2020. The program distributed up to $12.9 million in rental assistance to serve an estimated 4,300 households with an average of 2.64 months of assistance.
Of the households served, more than 60% were at 30% Median Family Income (MFI) and below.
The program received a funding injection of $3.2 million to serve participants in the RENT application pipeline.
Among those most served were LatinX populations, at 38% of the total assisted households, who continue to be disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. The 2020 RENT Program Progress Dashboard (Web) provides additional aggregate data on the distribution of rent assistance by demographic, zip code, occupation type, and median family income (MFI).
Total Amount Duration Funding Source Persons Helped Initial $15.5 million August 19, 2020 to December 31, 2020 CARES-CV, CDBG-CV, General Funds, HTF 4,844 households Additional $25 million March, 2021 to September, 2021 CDBG-CV, Housing Trust Funds 4084 households Additional $35.4 million October, 2021 to January, 2022 CDBG-CV, Housing Trust Funds 8288 households TOTALS $77.2 million 18,897 households