Today, March 26th,  Austin City Council approved several measures to assist our community during the COVID-19 crisis, including help for small businesses, workers, and residents. Council Member Pool supported these measures and helped with a plan to reduce utility bills, which may rise significantly with most of us having to remain home during this time.

Help for Small Business, Workers, and Residents:

  • The Council created a temporary “Bridge Loan Program” that is an initiative brought by the Economic Development Department to help fill growing financial gaps for small businesses (Item 88 ). Council also worked to amend the proposed criteria for those loans to include “commercial and multifamily real estate” to help small property landlords, and reduced the number of required employees for small business to one (1) which is intended to help contract-type workers such as hair stylists.
  • The Council approved another Economic Development Department initiative that raised the amount of money available for small business loans through the city’s Small Business Program (Item 89 ).
  • Council passed an initiative to quickly craft further programs and options (Item 91 ) to support small and local businesses and workers affected by the economic challenges with COVID-19.
  • Another measure approved by Council, and co-sponsored by CM Pool, will identify multiple ways to reduce utility bills for those affected by the coronavirus pandemic (Item 92 ), including adjusting the criteria for emergency financial aid.
  • And finally, Council approved a longer time period of eviction protection for tenants (Item 90 ) by requiring landlords to give 60 days for tenants to make payment arrangements before notice to vacate can be given.

There are other measures that can be explored, such as expanded rental assistance for our community; Council requested that the Economic Development Department craft some options for that expanded assistance for the next meeting on April 9.

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