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Woman contacts Ted after a $3,000 rent reduction mistake nearly cost her her eviction

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — Whenever the pandemic hit, Katashia Dewalt said she lost her job. Her small business, which decorates cookies and treats, was also hit, and she said the loss of income eventually caught up with her when her unemployment benefits expired.

Dewalt has lived in the same apartment complex since 2015 and said she’s never had trouble paying her rent on time until 2021.

“I was about three months behind,” Dewalt told ABC13’s Ted Oberg.

She said she reached out to everyone for help paying her rent, including applying to the Texas Rent Relief Program, which is run by the state, and the local Houston-Harris County Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

Dewalt said the locally operated program helped cover her monthly rent during two different rounds of rent relief in 2021. She said the funds went directly to her landlord, who used them to pay her rent balance.

“No problems at all. I thought everything was fine,” she said.

But in mid-February, Dewalt said her landlord shared a notice she received alleging Dewalt had applied for and received rental subsidies from both the local and state programs. It was seen as doubling the benefits and the complex would have to pay back three months’ rent.

Dewalt said that was not true and that she only received help from the local program.

“I didn’t get any money from Texas Rent Relief. All my money came from Baker Ripley,” she said. “I haven’t completed my application to Texas Rent Relief.”

Still, she said her landlord told her that if she couldn’t pay the $2,925 that the Houston-Harris County Emergency Rental Assistance Program was asking the complex to pay back, she would end up losing her apartment.

Dewalt reached out to Baker Ripley, one of the program’s administrators, to explain how she only got help from one program, but said she couldn’t get any answers. When time was running out, she turned to Ted.

“I knew who to go to. I knew if someone did it, you guys would help me because I had no other options,” Dewalt said.

We reached out to Baker Ripley and the next day Dewalt got a call from them explaining everything.

“I got a call back at 8:00 a.m. Friday morning, ‘We made a mistake,'” Dewalt recalled. “‘You owe nothing. We’re sorry we scared you.'”

The email Dewalt received said the local program is working with the state to screen addresses for duplicate benefits, but in her case it was a mistake as she only received help from one program.

Baker Ripley told us: “Although we have taken safeguards to maintain the data accurately, a few errors can occur. However, this number is small.”

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https://abc13.com/houston-rental-assistance-covid-texas-rent-relief-baker-ripley/11695910/ Woman contacts Ted after a $3,000 rent reduction mistake nearly cost her her eviction

Dais Johnston

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