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Supporting Greater Houston's Rental Assistance Distribution

The Rental Assistance Dashboard presents data and provides measures of equitability for the City of Houston's and Harris County's rental assistance programs (RAP) that were implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Problem

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, renters in Houston were faced with an impending eviction crisis that left countless households unsure of how they would be able to make their next rent payment. In response, the City of Houston and Harris County secured funding to develop a rental assistance program to support renters in the Greater Houston area through direct payments. Both governments partnered with BakerRipley and Connective to implement the program.

The rental assistance program staff needed a way to track the progress, effectiveness, and equitability of their rental assistance program. Our partners needed to make sure that as they implemented the program and disbursed funds that vulnerable communities were not left under-served.

Due to the severe need in the community, the program received over 700,000 applications for rental assistance in 2020.

Solution

Moksha developed an interactive dashboard to visualize the rental assistance program's data in real-time so that our partners could ensure effective and equitable implementation of the program and track progress as they worked to disburse funds. The dashboard showcased important program information such as rental assistance requests and distributions, and relevant social vulnerability data.

Moksha also developed a methodology for estimating the equitability of fund distribution by using social vulnerability and rental data from the Census Bureau. This allowed our partners to not only react to changes, but be proactive in targeting under-served communities.

Impact

The City of Houston and Harris County were able to distribute over $60 million in rental assistance over the course of the program. Our dashboard provided crucial and timely information to our government partners about the effectiveness and equitability of their rental assistance program.

The dashboard was also made public during the course of the program to allow residents of Houston and Harris County to maintain an understanding of how rental assistance funds were distributed and inform policy for future rental assistance programs.