Deadline looming as Travis County works to get federal rent, utilities money to people in need

Travis County
Pride flag-raising ceremony at Travis County building

FILE — The Travis County Government building June 29, 2021. (Frank Martinez/KXAN)

KXAN (AUSTIN) — After speedbumps early in the county’s attempts to get roughly $10.7 million out the door for rental and utility assistance, Lawrence Lyman, the director of research and planning for Travis County, said Tuesday they are moving quickly to identify ways to get money from the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) to people in need faster.

To meet requirements set nationally, the county has to get at least 65% of the funding they received from the federal government to the community by September 30. Travis County has a ways to go to meet that requirement, they’ve distributed roughly 23.74% of that total money, as of the numbers shown to the court Tuesday.

According to Lyman, 137 applications were paid this week, that does not include newer payments that are still being confirmed by the auditor’s office. There are 4,789 total applicants, as of Tuesday’s update.

Tuesday commissioners voted unanimously to direct the county to explore alternatives to getting money out the door faster.

Judge Andy Brown floated the idea before executive session of sending some of the existing money from the county to the City of Austin, which Brown says is getting money to people who need it faster. The legalities of that option was set to be discussed in executive session, that discussion was not heard by the public.

“I think that we need to do everything we can to make sure more families are not evicted,” Judge Andy Brown said.

Last week, Austin City Council and Travis County Commissioners voted to enter an agreement that would allow them to share data to cut down on the number of people applying for both city and county help. That is also against the federal regulations for the money.

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