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 29, 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
Council Actions Taken to Address Evictions During COVID19:
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”.
As of May 18, the Texas Supreme Court has let expire a temporary ban on eviction proceedings, meaning that the state now allows a landlord to evict a tenant. However, some federal and City of Austin requirements continue to protect renters from eviction. While only a court can stop an eviction, the Mayor Order 20200326-008 and City Ordinance No. 20203026-090 provide different methods to slow down evictions for nonpayment of rent.
On March 26, 2020, City Council passed Ordinance No. 20200326-090 that requires landlords to provide tenants with a Notice of Proposed Eviction for failure to pay rent at least 60 days prior to providing a Notice to Vacate. During the 60-day time period, a tenant has the opportunity to pay in full overdue rent, fees, or other charges associated with the tenant's lease. The ordinance was extended on May 7 through Ordinance No. 20200507-01, and applies to any fees assessed, according to the lease agreement, on or before August 24, 2020.
Furthermore, under Mayor’s Order 20200507–010 a landlord may not issue a notice to vacate (except under limited circumstances) or change the locks to a tenant’s rental. The Mayor’s Order prohibits a residential landlord from removing a tenant’s property from the rented unit.
Further protections are afforded under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Under the CARES Act, landlords renting out homes subsidized by the federal government, financed by a federally backed mortgage, or paid for by low-income tax credits can’t begin evicting tenants until August 24, 2020. Landlords at these complexes also cannot charge tenants late fees or penalize them another way for unpaid rent. Local groups, including Texas RioGrande Legal Aid and Building And Strengthening Tenant Action (BASTA), have put together a searchable map for tenants in Texas to find out if they're protected under this federal rule.
The City of Austin has made available resources for download which Austinites can refer if they are faced with possible eviction in multiple languages:
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.
- Help paying rent and emergency financial assistance
During the COVID-19 outbreak, several of Austin’s local charities and community service programs now provide temporary, emergency financial assistance in the form of grants or loans for utilities, rental expenses and mortgage payments. To help these organizations, on April 9 Austin City Council voted to create the Relief in a State of Emergency (RISE) Fund to distribute $15 million in assistance. In April, the city distributed at least $5.6 million, and anticipates allocating more funds in the coming months.
In addition, on May 1 the City enacted the Relief of Emergency Needs for Tenants (RENT) program, which provided $1.2 million for rental assistance through a lottery managed by the Housing Authority for the City of Austin. Due to demand, initial funds have been exhausted, but there are ongoing efforts to attract more resources for the coming months. Please continue to check back with this site, and these community organizations, for more information or opportunities for assistance.
Community Programs for Emergency Financial Assistance
Texas 2-1-1 is a program of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to help citizens connect with needed services by dialing 2-1-1, or (877) 541-7905 or going to www.211texas.org. This is a free, anonymous social service hotline available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
Travis County Community Centers partner with state and local organizations to offer basic needs services, including rental/mortgage and utility assistance. Locations and phone numbers for the Seven Travis County Community Centers can be found here (no longer accepting in-person applications) to apply for social services or receive a referral for outside help.
Austin Disaster Relief Network (ADRN) COVID-19 Relief Fund provides individuals and families financial assistance for rent and to purchase essential items. Apply for assistance, complete the ADRN CIOVID Relief websiteand complete the online form. You may also contact the ADRN Survivor Hotline at 512-806-0800, Monday-Friday, 10AM-6PM.
Goodwill Industries of Central Texas will help eligible individuals and families who have been economically impacted by COVID-19. This program helps people with income at or below 200% of federal poverty guidelines, are not receiving economic assistance through the CARES Act, are not receiving an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check), and not receiving unemployment benefits . Undocumented individuals who meet the above requirements ARE ELIGIBLE to apply for assistance. Call 512-637-7445 to apply.
Society of St. Vincent de Paul Diocesan Council of Austin will begin distribution of emergency funding it received from the City of Austin’s Relief in a State of Emergency (RISE) starting June 1. The fund offers residents one-time financial assistance for rent, mortgages, car payments, utilities and some medical expenses.
Greater Mt. Zion Church Community Assistance and Referral Center provides utility and rent assistance to the community for financial emergencies. Call 512-469-9020 to be screened and apply over the phone.
Catholic Charities of Central Texas received $1.6 million from the City of Austin’s RISE Fund to support rent, mortgage, and utility assistance Austin residents impacted by COVID-19 but ineligible CARES Act assistance. To apply, call the phone number which corresponds with the first letter of your last name (see below). If no answer, leave a voicemail to receive a call back as soon as possible. Please call only once; multiple calls may overload our phone system.
Catholic Charities Contact Phone, Alphabetical by Last Name
For more information, please visit the Catholic Charities of Central Texas website.
Austin Area Urban League, Inc. received $500,00 from the City of Austin’s RISE (Relief in a State of Emergency) fund to support rent, mortgage, and utility assistance Austin residents impacted by COVID-19 but ineligible for Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act assistance. To apply, call 512-838-3442 or visit the Austin Area Urban League Coronavirus website.
Family Independence Initiative received $2 million from the City of Austin’s RISE (Relief in a State of Emergency) fund to support rent, mortgage, and utility assistance Austin residents impacted by COVID-19 but ineligible for Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act assistance. There is not an open application process; recipients are identified through the agency. Families are invited to enroll in the initiaitive through the website.
Asian Family Support Services of Austin (AFSSA) [APPLICATIONS ARE CLOSED] received $1 million from the City of Austin’s RISE (Relief in a State of Emergency) fund to support rent, mortgage, and utility assistance Austin residents impacted by COVID-19 but ineligible for Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act assistance. For more information, call 512-358-6318.
El Buen Samaritano [APPLICATIONS ARE CLOSED] received $500,00 from the City of Austin’s RISE (Relief in a State of Emergency) fund to support rent, mortgage, and utility assistance Austin residents impacted by COVID-19 but ineligible for Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act assistance. To apply call 512-714-6917 and be prepared to submit documents, which can be done electronically, proving identity, address, income and that you’ve lost wages because of the pandemic.
- Help for homeowners, mortgage assistance and property taxes
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.
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.
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
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
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
Fleeing domestic abuse. Call/text for more info
Salvation Army – Downtown
(512) 634-5926 (families)
For info or families on waitlist
The Salvation Army –Shelter for Women and Children
Waitlist or request more information
Posada Esperanza (families)
Shelter for refugees and immigrants
ARCH/Front Steps (men only)
Lottery for men every day at 6 pm
PORT (Youth only)
For Youth and teens
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.