Council to vote on resources for nursing homes, revisit rent ‘grace period’


AUSTIN (KXAN) – Here’s what’s expected on Thursday during the Austin City Council meeting:

Citywide ‘grace period’ for renters would be extended: Approved

The local disaster declaration passed in March due to COVID-19 is in effect indefinitely, and so will Austin’s 60-day grace period for renters if council passes an amended ordinance Thursday.

City Council has required landlords to create a 60-day grace period after rent is due in April and May, so struggling renters can come up with the funds to pay rent or set up a payment plan before being evicted.

Resources for nursing homes: Approved on consent

As COVID-19 cases in nursing homes continue to climb, Austin City Council will vote on a resolution Thursday to dedicate resources towards the problem and try to slow the spread.

Council member Ann Kitchen is one of the sponsors of Item 59 on Thursday’s council agenda that reads: Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to plan and collaborate with outside entities, develop, fund, and implement programs, and report status updates to Council regarding efforts to prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 among the residents and staff of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, and other vulnerable persons.

Kitchen explained the resolution would bolster some efforts already underway:

  • Immediate testing of all staff and residents at all facilities with clusters
  • Testing of all staff at all facilities as soon as possible
  • Deploying “Strike Teams” to enhance staff resources at all facilities with clusters
  • Ensuring all facilities have sufficient PPE and testing equipment

She said the resolution also directs city staff to work on a few new items:

  • Providing for incentives and funding for hiring and retaining facility staff
  • Collaborating with the Dell Medical School to identify preventive strategies to protect residents in vulnerable facilities
  • Providing ongoing updates to the Council on results and status of actions
  • Identifying any additional actions/funding needed to prevent

MORE: ‘We’re not moving fast enough’: Austin City Council to consider nursing home resolution

Meals for local students, caregivers: Approved on consent

City Council is expected approve $2.2 million in emergency funds for meals to feed local students and their caregivers. The meals would be delivered through Austin-area school district distribution sites.

Council documents say “the City’s Food Access Working Group has received reports of caregivers splitting student meals in order to fill the gap created by the job and income loss they are experiencing due to COVID-19.”

Council members push for urgency on resilience plan: Approved as amended

Council is directing the City Manager to return in June with implementation options for a Community Resilience Plan, headed by an executive with a six-figure salary. The plan would aim to help Austinites survive catastrophic such as the current COVID-19 crisis with a focus on addressing economic, social and racial disparities.

Last May, City Council asked the Office of Sustainability to review climate resilience plans in other cities, look for funding opportunities and present recommendations on how best to create a city-wide climate resilience plan.

MORE: Austin looking to add new six-figure salary to combat climate change

Drivers speeding more during pandemic: Approved on consent as amended

City Council will vote on a resolution that aims to create safe, socially distant spaces for people looking to get out.

It’s called the Healthy Streets program, and city leaders believe it could turn neighborhood streets in temporary safe spaces for people to exercise.

According to the Austin Transportation Department’s Vision Zero Program, vehicular traffic volume has gone down under the Stay Home – Work Safe Order by approximately 50%, but serious injury rates have risen by 20%.

Council documents say the statistic suggests drivers on Austin’s streets are “operating their vehicles at higher speeds than usual during the COVID-19 disaster.”

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