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Texas County Returns Millions in Unspent Federal Rent Relief

Ebanisha Wiley has been on the brink of eviction for months. She lives in Montgomery County, an area north of Houston where officials decided to return much of their federal rental assistance money.

“I need it,” Wiley said. “I need it. I am desperately in need for help.”

The federal government is working on an effort to reallocate rent relief money, taking it from communities that haven’t spent theirs and redistributing it to others that have. In late November, officials in Montgomery County voted to return $7 million, almost one-third of the money that was meant to help renters struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic. The county had spent less than 2% of its allocation, according to federal data. 

The day after commissioners voted to return the money, Wiley stood outside the Montgomery County courtroom where a judge had ruled that she could be evicted.

“I don’t have any parents, grandparents, any immediate family I can turn to. It’s just me and my kids. It’s a struggle that wouldn’t nobody understand unless they were in my shoes,” Wiley said.

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