Austin City Council votes to extend eviction protections to April


AUSTIN (KXAN) – Here are some of the notable items on Thursday’s Austin City Council agenda.

Several agreements for COVID-19 relief

  • Approved – An agreement with United Way for Greater Austin to administer an additional $5 million in emergency relief grants for childcare providers in Austin. The total contract, including compensation for United Way, is more than $6.1 million.
  • Approved – A $500,000 agreement with Health Alliance for Austin Musicians to provide resources and health insurance access to Austin musicians because of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Approved – A $500,000 contract with Alliance Work Partners to provide a COVID-19 support line offering short-term counseling and support to Austin workers and families impacted by the pandemic.

Approved – A separate agenda item accepts more than $7.2 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for COVID-19 relief programs. Here is the breakdown of how the city says it plans to use that money:

  • Child care services for essential workers: $2,500,000
  • Small Business eligible activities: $2,500,000
  • Emergency Rental Assistance: $2,262,074

Criminal offenses for environmental code violations? – Approved

One council action creates new environmental offenses with the possibility of civil or even criminal penalties for violators.

One violation relates to regulations for Onsite Water Reuse Systems at large development projects. Another violation imposes administrative penalties of up to $500 for companies who fail to submit required documentation to ensure cooling towers are meeting all water efficiency standards and equipment requirements.

Momentum for HealthSouth property – Postponed until Jan. 27

Council voted to postpone an item to exclusively negotiate with Aspen Heights Partners, related to the redevelopment of the former HealthSouth Rehabilitation Facility at Red River Street and East 12th Street.

City leaders have expressed a desire for low-income housing there and have more recently brought up its potential as a new home for the Downtown Austin Community Court.

City to retire five public works of art

Another item green lights the deaccession, or removal, of five works of art that are part of the city’s Art in Public Places program, based on city staff evaluations of their conditions. They works of art include:

  • “Moments” by Carl Trominski, 2003, at the Lamar Underpass – Approved
  •  Republic Square Fountain” by James Turner, 1988, at Republic Square Park – Approved
  • “LAB” by NextProject, 2009, along the bikeway from MoPac to Airport Blvd – Approved
  • “Bicentennial Fountain” by Ken Fowler, 1976, at Auditorium Shores – Approved
  • “Karst Circle” by W. Gary Smith, 2004, at Austin Fire Station 43/EMS Station 31 – Approved

Other agenda items to watch

  • Approved: A $7.5 million agreement with Caritas of Austin to house individuals experiencing homelessness who are currently living in city-converted hotels that are being used as protective lodges during the pandemic or are at high risk for contracting the virus.
  • Approved: An extension of citywide eviction protections to April 1, 2021. The protections, in effect since March, require landlords to provide a notice of a proposed eviction to a tenant 60 days before they issue a notice to vacate. During those 60 days, tenants have an opportunity to respond and to pay the amount owed to avoid an eviction.
  • Approved: A new Customer Assistance Program discount for Austin Water customers who live in multifamily buildings. If passed, a $17 monthly credit will be applied to those customers’ bills.

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