AUSTIN (KXAN) — The City of Austin and Travis County announced they’re extending eviction protections for tenants and residents that they put in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic through April 1.

Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Andy Brown discussed their decision to prolong eviction moratorium orders during a virtual news conference Thursday morning.

“This is the most effective means to promote public health and economic welfare during this ongoing global pandemic,” Brown said, “both because keeping people inside and housed curbs the spread of the virus and because ensuring housing stability contributes to job retention and it strengthens local economies.”

Adler added that these eviction moratorium orders first put into place in March 2020 have saved lives in the community.

“Here in Austin-Travis County, we have one of the lowest mortality rates in the country,” the mayor said. “We know if we can keep as many people as possible in their homes, in a home, that we have a better chance at saving lives.”

The other leaders who joined the mayor and county judge’s news conference included Travis County Commissioner Ann Howard, Austin City Council Member Greg Casar, Travis County Health & Human Services Director Sherri Fleming and Building and Strengthening Tenant Action Project Director Shoshana Krieger.

They also talked about additional relief funding for people struggling to pay rent during the ongoing pandemic while highlighting the amount of financial assistance doled out so far.

Adler said the City of Austin has given out almost $13 million in rent relief to 4,300 Austin families since the pandemic began. Casar shared that the city received another $29.5 million from the federal government to utilize for additional rental assistance that it’s now working to create ways to get out the money to people still struggling.

Fleming said the federal government recently awarded Travis County an additional $10.7 million to provide relief to tenants. She said the county is also working on a system to get that funding to the community.

Since the pandemic began, she pointed out the county has thus far provided financial assistance for more than $13 million in rent and mortgage relief to nearly 6,000 households.