Amid efforts to confront the impacts of the COVID-19 virus, both local and federal agencies are working to lessen the impact on vulnerable households facing eviction or displacement.  Neighborhood Housing and Community Development (NHCD) provides this resource for assistance.

NHCD is working with community agencies to deploy funding to assist households impacted by COVID-19.  This information is updated as of May 11, 2020.  We will update and expand on this information as more resources become available.

What renters should know about recent steps to slow down the eviction process

What renters should know

What renters need to know 1

What renters need to know 2

What renters need to know 4

 

On March 26, 2020, the Austin City Council adopted an ordinance that applies when a tenant is unable to pay rent on time because the tenant lost wages, income, or revenue or incurs delinquent payments due to the local disaster and the landlord wants to evict the tenant. The ordinance requires a landlord to give the tenant a “Notice of Proposed Eviction”.

While only a court can stop an eviction, the Mayor Order 20200326-008 (Order) and City Ordinance No. 20203026-090 (Ordinance)  provide different methods to slow down evictions for nonpayment of rent.

Mayor Order 20200326-008 (Order) “Notice to Vacate”

  • On May 7, the Mayor’s Order was extended until July 25, 2020. Until July 25, commercial and residential landlords may not: give tenants a “Notice to Vacate”; remove a tenant’s property or change their locks for non-payment of rent; or take property from a residential tenant’s dwelling unit to hold for non-payment of rent.
  • If a landlord takes any of action prohibited by the Order, the landlord could be prosecuted for a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine not to exceed $1000 or confinement in jail not to exceed 180 days.

City Ordinance No. 20203026-090 (Ordinance) “Notice of Proposed Eviction”.

  • On May 7, Ordinance No. 20200326-090 was amended when Council approved Ordinance No. 20200507-056 (the signed version has not been posted yet). It amended the applicability dates to March 26, 2020 to August 24, 2020; amended the expiration date for the ordinance to 61st day after August 24, 2020; and modified the ways to provide the notice of proposed eviction.
  • Until the ordinance expires, commercial and residential landlords must provide to a tenant a “Notice of Proposed Eviction” that includes certain information, provides a right to respond (including curing any delinquent payments), and a time period to respond that is at least 60 days if the landlord wants to evict the tenant for nonpayment of rent and the tenant lost wages, income, or revenue or incurs delinquent payments due to COVID-19.
  • If a landlord does not comply with Ordinance No. 202003326-090, the landlord will be in violation of City Code. The tenant may raise a landlord's failure to comply with the Ordinance during an eviction proceeding.  Additionally, violation of the Ordinance is a Class C misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.

Download "What renters should know about recent steps to slow down the eviction process" NHCD_Renter_COVID-19Eviction.pdf

 

The Texas Supreme Court suspended eviction proceedings until May 18th, except in situations where there is an imminent threat of harm or criminal activity. The Travis County Justice of the Peace (JP) courts suspended their eviction proceedings until after June 1.


Austin Tenant's Council offers counseling to prepare for and understand the eviction process, including assisting tenants in asserting their rights when fighting eviction. You call them at (512) 474-1961.

INFORMATION ABOUT LATE RENT PAYMENTS AND EVICTIONS

 

 

Help paying rent and emergency financial assistance
 
 
All City of Austin Neighborhood Centers are closed to the public for regular services but they are providing rent & utility assistance to eligible individuals. Call 512-972-5780 for more information.

There are local programs that provide temporary, emergency financial assistance in the form of grants or loans for utilities, rental expenses and mortgage payments.  However, even in extreme circumstances, tenants are legally required to pay their rent.  The City of Austin did not waive your monthly rent obligation.  Not paying your rent could put you at greater financial risk.  Contact your landlord for potential payment options if you are unable to pay in full when your rent is due. 

The Texas Apartment Association has advised landlords to offer tenants payment plans and temporarily waive late fees. However, individual landlords determine their own policies.  Make sure that any rental-deferment agreement is in writing and—if possible—is reviewed by an attorney. 

Austin’s local community programs that normally focus on ongoing housing services for elderly, disabled individuals or homeless populations are re-tooling in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, though many already have waiting lists. Agencies prefer contact by phone or email and are not accepting walk-ins to ensure the safety of community members.  For more information, go to http://www.austintexas.gov/page/resources-renters-help-paying-your-rentutilities

Organizations to consider for assistance:


The Austin Apartment Association provides Renters Resources information in English and Spanish.


Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) Program 

The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) is providing HOME Tenant-Based Rental Assistance to Texans experiencing housing challenges due to COVID-19, These funds are possible through waivers authorized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and help families and individuals with up to 100 percent of the cost of rent, security deposits, and utility bills. Up to $11.3 million will be available. For more information, go to https://www.tdhca.state.tx.us/home-division/tbra.htm 

RENT Assistance program

Applications for May RENT program closed Wednesday May 6th at 11:59pm.

 
Help for homeowners, mortgage assistance and property taxes

HELP FOR HOMEOWNERS, MORTGAGE ASSISTANCE AND PROPERTY TAXES

Mortgage Assistance

If you are unable to make your mortgage payment, it is advised that you contact your Mortgage Lender for options.  FHA-insured mortgages are under a moratorium for foreclosures of at least 60 days. For other mortgages, there are a number of resources including financial counseling, negotiating payment options with mortgage lenders, and federal foreclosure prevention programs that may help.

If you have a mortgage guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, you may be eligible for reduced or suspended mortgage payments for up to 12 months if you've been impacted by COVID-19. Reference the links below for more information on assistance for homeowners and guidance for lenders and servicers.

Fannie Mae's Assistance Options for Homeowners Impacted by COVID-19

Freddie Mac's Assistance Options for Homeowners Impacted by COVID-19

 

Property Taxes

The Travis County Tax Office is temporarily stopping any new legal actions against those with delinquent property taxes (however, state penalties and interest continue to accrue). Property owners who need to set up a payment plan for property taxes, or need to renegotiate a current payment plan, can call the Travis County Tax Office at 512-854-9473 or email  TaxOffice@TravisCountyTX.gov and to learn more about available programs, such as homesteads property tax deferrals for those age 65 and older, and for disabled persons and veterans.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced the suspension of foreclosures and evictions for 60 days for FHA-insured and Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac-backed mortgages.

HUD's Statement on Homeowner Relief

FHFA Suspends Foreclosures and Evictions

 

Protection when dealing with house flippers

PROTECTION WHEN DEALING WITH HOUSE FLIPPERS

At a time of increased financial stress, some Austinites may be pressured to sell their homes to a "house flipper," whose goal is to buy the house at the cheapest price and sell it for the maximum profit.  That may not be in the seller’s best interest, which is to get the best price as a return on their property investment.

To avoid getting taken advantage of, the NHCD has developed an informational campaign for residents who may be targeted by real estate investors looking to buy properties, then flip or sell, these properties for a profit once the market price appreciates. This information is available at the Austin Is My Home website

Help to pay utilities

Austin Energy and Austin Water have suspended utility disconnections due to unpaid bills for electricity, water, trash collection and recycling. Those who have trouble paying a utility bill can get on a deferred-payment plan or receive direct financial assistance from the City.  This coincides with the Texas Public Utility Commission banning disconnections of water and power service for Texans financially impacted by COVID-19 and put them on deferred payment plans.

Austin Energy Customer Assistance Programs https://austinenergy.com/ae/residential/your-bill/customer-assistance-programs

Resources for Renters: Help Paying Your Rent/Utilities

In addition, the Austin Financial Support Plus 1 Program partners with local churches and nonprofits to arrange for funding assistance.  Go to the Financial Support Plus 1 website or call the Customer Care Contact Center at (512) 494-9400 for more information.

Homelessness services

HOMELESSNESS SERVICES

Austin has several community organizations that assist persons experiencing homelessness.  Austin Public Health Homeless Assistance (APH) manages partnerships and provides funding to social service providers to serve homeless individuals and families with outreach and navigation, emergency shelter services, rapid rehousing, permanent supportive housing, homelessness prevention, and planning with the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition.

The first step to access services is to complete a Coordinated Entry survey, which helps you find housing by identifying, assessing your current housing situation, and connecting you to housing support services and a case manager to help you find housing.

Especially as we confront the COVID-19 health crisis, please keep in mind that completing the housing assessment does not guarantee housing, nor does it serve as a housing waitlist or a housing application.  There is no fixed timeline of when an agency may contact you for housing, but it will keep searching for a program until a housing opportunity is identified, or an application is withdrawn. 

Emergency Shelter Providers

Agency

Phone Number

Additional Information

SAFE Alliance

(512) 267-7233

Fleeing domestic abuse. Call/text for more info

Salvation Army – Downtown

(512) 476-1111
(512) 634-5926 (families)

For info or families on waitlist

The Salvation Army –Shelter for Women and Children

(512) 933-0600

Waitlist or request more information

Casa Marianella
Posada Esperanza (families)

(512) 385-5571

Shelter for refugees and immigrants

ARCH/Front Steps (men only)

(512) 305-4100

Lottery for men every day at 6 pm

PORT (Youth only)

(512) 735-2400

Youth only

Lifeworks

(512) 735-2100

For Youth and teens

Foundation for the Homeless

(512) 453-6570

Families

Veterans Administration

(512) 635-2769

Veterans only

This information can also be found on the city’s main COVID-19 website at www.austintexas.gov/COVID19, the Neighborhood Housing and Community Development website at www.austintexas.gov/housing, and further resources can be found on the www.connectatx.org webpage

NHCD will update and expand on this information as more resources become available.