As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to adversely impact citizens, there may be some help in sight for tenants and landlords.
Kerr County Emergency Management Coordinator William B. “Dub” Thomas announced Tuesday that relief is in sight for qualifying renters and landlords who find themselves behind in rental payments/collections due to the circumstances caused by the novel coronavirus.
“Starting Monday, Feb. 15, renters and landlords who are financially impacted in a negative way by the pandemic can begin applying for relief from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs,” Thomas explained.
The TDHCA has received $1.3 billion in emergency rental assistance funds from the newly passed Texas Coronavirus Relief Bill.
Landlords who have tenants behind on their rent, and renters who can’t pay rent or their utility bills during this COVID-19 pandemic can submit an application, starting at 8 a.m. Feb. 15 at www.TexasRentRelief.com or by calling 833-9TX-RENT (which is 833-989-7368.)
“Both landlords and tenants can use the website to create an account and submit their applications,” Thomas said, noting that while the TDHCA office will be closed for Presidents Day on Monday, the state agency’s staff will be available to provide assistance by calling the same phone number listed above on Tuesday, Feb. 16.
“The program can also help tenants and landlords with past due costs dating back to possibly 11 months ago to March 13, 2020,” Thomas said.
The Texas Relief Fund can assist with the following expenses:
Past-due costs the Texas Rent Relief Program will address include:
• Past due, current and up to 3 months of expected rent costs;
• Past due, current or up to 3 months of expected utility and home energy expenses;
• After the initial 3 months of forward assistance, renters can apply for 3 additional months of assistance if funds are still available.
For landlords applying for unpaid or future rent on behalf of tenants:
• All payments must be used to satisfy the tenant’s rental obligations;
• The tenant must sign the application
For more information, visit https://texasrentrelief.com/.
COVID-19 Call Center, CodeRed And COVID-19 Testing Clinic
During his Tuesday report, Thomas said the Kerr County COVID-19 Call Center had received 1,558 phone calls from citizens seeking information on the pandemic and the vaccine.
Anyone who would like information can call 830-315-5900. (The phone bank’s number will roll over to multiple lines if there are multiple callers at the same time.)
Additionally, since last week, 253 new people have registered for the free CodeRed emergency notification system. It is where local citizens can first hear alerts related to the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccine availability.
Sign up for CodeRed by clicking on the button with the CodeRed logo on the Kerr County website homepage: https://www.co.kerr.tx.us/. Or visit the City of Kerrville at www.kerrville.tx.gov and look under “Helpful Links.”
For those who do not have the internet or who need assistance registering for CodeRed, Thomas recommends phoning the COVID-19 Call Center at 830-315-5900.
Last week, the county hosted a drive-through COVID-19 testing event at the Hill Country Youth Event Center. With Friday’s counts added in, there were 881 people receiving the diagnostic test, which was a lower nasal swab (not the deep nasal swab used in tests early in the pandemic.)
Results of last week’s mobile clinic tests have not been received by the county yet. For anyone who took a test last week and did not receive their results, they can call 1-888-998-3568 to get their results.
As of today, Feb. 9, there was still no word from the state regarding when Kerr County could expect its next allocation of the vaccine that protects people against severe COVID-19.
“Last week, we finally received a shipment of vaccine – the first since the initial shipment at the end of last year. We successfully inoculated hundreds of people in a single day, proving to the Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel (the state entity in charge of vaccine distributions in Texas) that we could handle a massive vaccine shipment,” Thomas said. “We hoped that it would lead to certain distributions, but we again find ourselves this week without a shipment that would enable us to put shots in arms.”
“We want our citizens protected and as fast as possible, so the local stakeholders – the county, city, Peterson Health, HEB pharmacy, volunteers and others -- are working as hard as we can on different angles to try to make sure that happens soon, and in an organized, stress-reducing way,” Thomas said.
“What we’ve learned in recent weeks is that we are not alone. There are other counties in Central Texas who are having the same issue with not getting vaccines, while other places are,” Thomas said. “We will get everyone who wants a vaccine their shots in time.”
As of Tuesday, Thomas compiled a report on local case counts from information supplied by the Texas Department of State Health Services’ Region 8 and Peterson Regional Medical Center.
“It’s good to see the hospitalizations dropping,” Thomas said. “I believe these are the lowest hospitalizations we’ve seen since Oct. 27, 2020. The DSHS Region 8 data also shows a drop in hospitalizations across our area of the state, and that data matches where hospitalizations were on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2020.”
“This is good news, but it by no means we can relax. We’re far from out of the woods on this virus and its spread. With new variants popping up that are more contagious and faster spreading, we cannot relax on our basic safety precautions of washing our hands, wearing our face masks, socially distancing ourselves from others by at least 6 feet and more,” he added. “But keep up your efforts. It seems to be working.”
Tuesday’s case counts for Kerr County were as follows:
• 186 active cases of COVID-19;
• 3,649 recoveries of local residents from COVID-19;
• 5 hospitalizatios of patients in Peterson Regional Medical Center receiving treatment for COVID-19, and;
• 79 fatalities of permanent Kerr County residents (1 added by DSHS over the weekend, Feb. 6-7).