Texas Funding For Rental Assistance, A&M, California Wildfires, Telehealth, Blue Ribbon Schools

Abbott Announces Over $171 Million In CARES Act Funding For Rental Assistance, TX Eviction Diversion Program

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott Friday announced the allocation of over $171 million in funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act which will primarily be used for targeted rental assistance for Texans at risk of becoming homeless due to eviction.

The funding will also allow the Supreme Court of Texas, the Office of Court Administration, and the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) to work in partnership with local governments and non-profits and the newly created Texas Eviction Diversion Program to help renters stay in their homes, catch up on missed rental payments, and avoid an eviction on their records.

Out of these funds, $167 million will go to targeted rental assistance and $4.2 million will be allocated through the Texas Supreme Court to help the state’s legal aid providers and pro bono lawyers provide basic legal services to eligible Texans through this pandemic. 

“The Texas Eviction Diversion Program is crucial to our state’s response to COVID-19, and it will help many families recover from the impact of the pandemic without the looming threat of eviction,” said Governor Abbott. “This innovative partnership, coupled with the renter’s assistance provided through CARES Act funding, will strengthen our economic recovery efforts and provide a lifeline to renters and property owners alike.” 

“Judges across Texas have a duty to ensure that justice is delivered in a timely, fair, and impartial way. In times like these, sometimes that means that we search for creative ways to meet the needs of landlords and tenants,” said Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht. “The Texas Judiciary is happy to work with Governor Abbott and the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs to provide a way for tenants to stay in their homes and ensure that landlords are made whole.”

“The rental assistance and Texas Eviction Diversion Program will help courts deal with the anticipated deluge of eviction filings by reducing filings and diverting cases to an agreeable solution. Courts have worked hard to maintain access to justice during the pandemic, but we anticipate difficulty with timely handling a large number of eviction cases likely to be filed soon,” said David Slayton, Administrative Director of the Texas Office of Court Administration. “The program announced today by the Governor, TDHCA, the Supreme Court, and OCA will permit courts to focus on those cases that need the most attention and ensure that landlords and tenants are able to resolve their issues timely.”

“The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been devastating for many Texans, especially for some of our most vulnerable households,” said Bobby Wilkinson, TDHCA executive director. “TDHCA, along with state leaders and program partners have worked expeditiously to get the CARES Act funds out to those in need, and I believe our efforts can make a difference not only in these particular communities but throughout the state as we work toward more long-term recovery solutions.”

“This CARES Act funding to help Texans who need help with their rent as we continue to fight COVID19 is critically important. These federal funds will help ensure that Texas families can remain in their homes as our economy recovers and we get on track to come back stronger than ever,” said Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick.

“Over the course of the pandemic, the State of Texas has made providing support for renters and property owners experiencing financial hardship a top priority, and this funding for rental assistance, combined with the Texas Eviction Diversion Program, reinforces that very commitment. This partnership will go great lengths to help stimulate our economy, equip our courts with the tools needed to ensure justice in eviction cases, and relieve many of the financial burdens that landlords and tenants are facing as a result of COVID-19,” said Speaker Dennis Bonnen.”

“These funds are targeted to help renters at risk of becoming homeless and will give them time to catch up on payments amid these difficult economic times,” said Senator Jane Nelson.

“I strongly support this effort as it will assist families to stay in their homes at a time of financial stress for so many Texans. This funding will help keep families together and provide them with the rental assistance and legal support needed to prevent homelessness,” said Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa.

“I’m pleased to have worked with my colleagues, stakeholders and others on a program which will assist many Texans during these difficult times,” said Representative Giovanni Capriglione

“COVID-19 is having a devastating economic impact on many families. Some are facing the reality of eviction when they’re at their most vulnerable,” said Representative Oscar Longoria. “This new program will provide crucial help to them and ensure their lives aren’t upended.”

Abbott Announces Deployment Of Two Texas Resources To Assist With California Wildfire Relief

AUSTIN — Governor Greg Abbott Friday announced that nine members of the Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team (VET) and six agents from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will deploy to Butte County, California on Saturday to help care for animals displaced by the ongoing wildfires.

The VET deployed to the same area last December to provide oversight on sheltering, inventory and data management, veterinary medical support for injured and ill animals, and efforts to reunite animals with their owners.

The team’s mission will be to support three area shelters that have taken in almost 500 animals that have been displaced by the wildfires.

The VET will bring their experience in managing emergency shelters and situations to help ease the stress being put on the local responders. The initial team deploying includes four veterinarians, two veterinary technicians, and three logistics and support personnel.

“Texas is always ready to answer the call to help our fellow Americans in their time of need,” said Governor Abbott. “The dedicated men and women of VET and AgriLife will help strengthen California’s efforts to rescue and provide care for animals displaced by the fires. The Lone Star State will continue to offer any assistance needed for California’s ongoing wildfire relief efforts.”

“Our deployment to the camp wildfires in December 2018 and January 2019 set the stage for this request,” said VET director Dr. Wesley Bissett. “We have a close working relationship with the community we are being deployed to and our capabilities are well known to them. Our primary role will be to provide consistency in operational management and veterinary medical care. They have an outstanding group of people at the local level and I know we will all work together for the sake of the animals, their owners, and Butte County, California. Anytime you go into out-of-state deployments, there is an element of uncertainty that is based on being so distant from the impact area. There is always a discovery phase during which you work to understand, specifically, what is needed so that your team can contribute to the success of the jurisdiction you are serving.”

This isn’t the first time this year that the VET has assisted with the ongoing wildfire efforts.

Dr. Deb Zoran, VET member and professor in the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, recently deployed to Oregon to assist with the Texas A&M Task Force search and rescue dogs working in a particularly hazardous area.

This support is provided to the state of California through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact administered by the Texas Division of Emergency Management.

Governor Abbott Announces Agreement With Health Insurers To Continue Payment Parity For Telehealth

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today announced that Texas’ major health insurers have agreed to continue reimbursing network health care providers for telehealth appointments at the same rate which they pay for office visits through the end of 2020.

While the agreement applies only to state-regulated plans, both the Employee Retirement System and the Teacher Retirement System will continue telehealth payment parity through the end of the year as well.

“Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the State of Texas has expanded telehealth options and availability so that Texans can continue to access the health care services they need,” said Governor Abbott. “Millions of Texans have chosen to use telemedicine over the past several months, and this new agreement with Texas network health insurers will help ensure that Texans can continue utilizing telehealth options. I thank the health plans for stepping up to meet the needs of our state during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Telehealth allows patients to receive health care services in a location separate from their provider through virtual and other technological communications platforms. According to a new study by Accenture, an estimated 4.5 million Texans have begun using virtual healthcare services since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Governor Abbott Congratulates Texas’ Blue Ribbon Schools

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today congratulated the 28 Texas schools that have been recognized as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2020. The recognition is based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.

“Congratulations to the hardworking students, teachers, administrators, and parents of the 28 Texas schools recognized as Blue Ribbon Schools this year,” said Governor Abbott. “This prestigious honor is a testament to the Texas’ educational excellence and our teachers’ dedication to their students. The State of Texas will continue to build a brighter future for every Texas student.”

The following Texas schools were recognized:

Alvarado Elementary South Alvarado ISD
Desertaire Elementary School Ysleta ISD
Dr. Wright L. Lassiter Jr. Early College High School Dallas ISD
Early Childhood Development Center Corpus Christi ISD
Early College High School Carrollton Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD
Edward Roberson Middle School Spring ISD
Edward Titche Elementary School Dallas ISD
Heights Elementary School Laredo ISD
Henry W Longfellow Career Exploration Academy Dallas ISD
High School for Law and Justice Houston ISD
Hobbs Williams Elementary School Grand Prairie ISD
John Z. Leyendecker Elementary School Laredo ISD
Kelly-Pharr Elementary School Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD
Langham Elementary School Nederland ISD
Maude Mae Kirchner Elementary School Eagle Pass ISD
Memorial Elementary School Houston ISD
Milam Elementary School El Paso ISD
Redwater Junior High School Redwater ISD
Reilly Elementary School Austin ISD
Saint Theresa Catholic School Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston
Texas Academy of Biomedical Sciences Fort Worth ISD
The Shlenker School The Shlenker School District
Transmountain Early Collee High School El Paso ISD
Vista Academy of Austin-Mueller Texas College Preparatory Academy
West Main Elementary School Lancaster ISD
Windsor Park G/T Elementary School Corpus Christi ISD
Windthorst Elementary School Windthorst ISD
Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy Houston ISD

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