City shifting focus on housing relief funds to recovery, stabilization

(Source: KCBD)

LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The City of Lubbock’s Community Development department has been helping people pay rent and avoid eviction for nearly a year.

That will continue, but it’s slightly shifting its focus.

“It still is an emergency to some point but, now we’re looking at recovery and stabilization,” Director Karen Murfee said.

That includes helping people who’ve been affected by COVID-19 recover after using money they wouldn’t normally have to for rent.

“They’re now realizing, I’ve depleted every other avenue, resource that I can, now I’m going to come in and ask for help. I think we’re still going to see a lot of that,” Murfee said.

Murfee says along with the pandemic came higher building costs. So, HUD is recommending a shift in focus.

“Housing and making sure they’re still housed and that they’re in affordable rentals, and those kind of things that are, you know, being able to be developed and move forward from here,” Murfee said.

Murfee says the funding is still coming in.

On top of Community Development’s normal entitlement grants, they’re using federal Cares Act and American Rescue Plan money.

On top of that, it still has funding from the U. S. Department of Treasury’s second round of the Coronavirus Relief Fund.

“That was a $7.8-million grant. So, we still have probably half of that funding left and, like I said, we’re still getting funding,” Murfee said.

She says HUD is also suggesting a focus on infrastructure, like creating more congregated living facilities in case of emergency.

“It can be where they can be social distancing and being able to respond and be prepared for another type of pandemic like this,” Murfee said.

Community Development is still accepting applications for emergency rent, mortgage and utility assistance.

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