Austin-Travis County expected to begin easing eviction ban on Saturday

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — An eviction moratorium issued by Austin-Travis County leaders to protect those financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic is set to expire on Saturday, May 1.

While certain protections will be extended for renters, the ban on evictions is expected to be eased.

“It’s still being worked out, but I would anticipate something that would allow an eviction to go forward if there’s a sufficiently large amount of back rent owed and if the landlord has availed himself or herself of the programs and opportunities that are available to get assistance,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler told KXAN.

Adler and Travis County Judge Andy Brown will likely announce the updated protections on Friday, city and county officials said.

Jamie Lee, a single mother of two, avoided eviction earlier this month because of the moratorium.
She hasn’t missed a rent payment in five years, but her landlord wanted to move on after the lease expired in March. After relying on unemployment payments for the past year and a half, Lee didn’t have the money to find a new place.

“You have to make three times the income, so that’s really hard to accomplish with the pandemic that’s going on,” said Lee, the owner of a small business dependent on Austin’s event and festival scene. “It’s a difficult situation, and it’s really hard to find anywhere to rent right now.”

Lee worked on an agreement with her landlord to stay in her home through June 30, the same day a federal ban on evictions expires. The federal ban, though, was deemed unconstitutional by a Texas federal judge in February, and eviction cases have proceeded unless local orders are in place.

Help for renters

The Texas Relief Program has received more than $1 billion in federal funds and expects another billion soon to help renters at risk of eviction.

The program can cover past due and current expenses for households with incomes at or below 80% of the Area Median Income and meet other criteria. You can find more details at TexasRentRelief.com.

Bobby Wilkinson, executive director of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, said the program works to prioritize claims facing imminent eviction.

“For landlords, don’t kick anyone out, because then you can’t get paid,” Wilkinson told KXAN. “There’s a lot of money available.”

The Texas Relief Program is approving an average of $3.5 million in support every day, according to the agency.

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