City Council Approves SAVES Resolution for Vital Economic Sector Assistance

The Austin City Council approved the Save Austin’s Vital Economic Sectors or “SAVES” Resolution late last night. The resolution (item 62 here) calls for the city manager to investigate a wide variety of funding sources that could contribute to financially supporting local music venues, art venues, restaurants, bars, and child care centers as the economic fallout from the pandemic continues. 

Acknowledging the need for creative ideas, there were many funding ideas proposed. Detailed plans regarding those proposals will be investigated by the city manager and presented at the September 29th work session for voting at the October 1st council meeting. While funding is not immediately available, this is an important step towards more financial support from the city for Austin’s struggling service industry. 

Imminent and generous state and federal funding are still needed to ensure the recovery of these and other hard hit industries in Austin.

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Global pandemic or not, AIBA works tirelessly to support and advocate for Austin’s local business community. Reach out to us via email at hello@ibuyaustin.com

Austin Small Business Relief Grant Stats

The City of Austin’s Small Business Relief Grant Program awarded grants to 885 small and local businesses with a total of $16.2 million in funds dispersed. The demand far outstripped the supply of funds almost immediately, and 35% of applicants received funds.  The top sector, with 180 grants awarded, was Restaurants, Clubs and Bars with $4.3M in grants. Arts, Entertainment and Recreation businesses, with 101 grants awarded, received $1.4M followed by 104 Personal Care Services businesses who received $1.3M. Further details about the funding received by sector are available here.

This grant program provided much needed financial help to small and local businesses who were selected, but the need for more funding like this is urgent and ongoing. 

Austin City Council continues to explore other ideas to provide more assistance to Austin’s small and local businesses. Stay tuned for updates!

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Global pandemic or not, AIBA works tirelessly to support and advocate for Austin’s local business community. Reach out to us via email at hello@ibuyaustin.com

New Stage 3 COVID-19 Risk-Based Guidelines for Austin

A press release from the City of Austin (and Travis County) yesterday announced the move to Stage 3 risk restrictions for our area. It goes with out saying that residents and business owners but continue to be vigilant and practice good hygiene, social distancing, wearing face coverings and adhering to occupancy requirements to ensure we continue to reduce the COVID-19 positivity rate. The authorities request that individuals “continue to act as if we are still in Stage 4 as much as possible so that we can be in a better place as school starts.”

As noted in the provided Risk Based Guidance Chart, Stage 4 called for expanded essential businesses only to open. In contrast Stage 3, calls for essential and reopened businesses to return to operations. Everyone, regardless of risk, should avoid social gatherings and any gatherings greater than 10 people. Occupancy guidelines by business type can be found here.

The release from the city notes that “one of the goals we are trying to reach is to have a positivity rate (defined as the number of positive cases divided by the number of overall tests being performed) below five percent by September 8, when most Austin-Travis County students start their school year. In addition to an overall positivity rate below five percent, every individual race and ethnic group in Austin should have a positivity rate below five percent.”

For the latest information and updates, visit AustinTexas.gov/COVID19

Updated COVID-19 Orders from Austin-Travis County

The City of Austin and Travis County have extended the “Stay Home, Mask, and Otherwise Be Safe” Orders to stay in place through December 15, 2020. Among other things, these orders require residents of  Austin and Travis County to continue to practice social distancing, increased hygiene, and face-covering behaviors for the remainder of the year. In addition to these personal hygiene guidelines, both orders also suggest that social gatherings up to 10 people be avoided or minimized, and that socializing in groups of 10+ individuals outside of the same household is prohibited. You can get more details by reading the full City of Austin and Travis County Orders at these links.

Relief of Emergency Needs for Tenants (RENT) Program To Launch August 19

Another round of rent relief is coming to the citizens of Austin from our city government. Please share this with your employees and staff who are struggling to pay rent due to reduced income caused by COVID-19. A full explanation of the program and program requirements is below from the City of Austin “Recent News” email:

“The City of Austin’s Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Department (NHCD) and the Housing Authority of the City of Austin (HACA) are launching the Relief of Emergency Needs for Tenants (RENT) Assistance Program, a $17.75 million program providing $12.9 million in direct rent support for income-eligible Austin renters who are financially impacted by COVID-19.  The RENT program will also offer related support for tenant stabilization, eviction prevention and direct community outreach.

The RENT Application Portal will open Wednesday August 19, 2020 at 8:00a.m. (CST) and remain open through January 2021, or until funds are expended.  Eligible renters may submit their application for random selection.  If selected and the application qualifies, a payment will be issued directly to the landlord in the full amount of the contracted rent.  All applications, regardless of when they are submitted after the initial opening of the application period, will be given an equal chance for random selection.

One month of paid rent may be available to households whose income is between 30 percent and 80 percent of the Median Family Income.  Up to three months of paid rent may be available to households whose income is between 0 percent and 30 percent of the Median Family Income.

“The City and Housing Authority are thrilled to be able to offer this critical support to help Austin renters stay in their homes during this difficult time,” said Michael Gerber, CEO of the Housing Authority of the City of Austin. “Mayor and City Council provided much needed funds for this emergency rental assistance program as a critical step in assisting with the financial impacts of COVID-19 in our community.”

NHCD Director Rosie Truelove “We are thrilled to partner with HACA to move funds quickly to help as many Austin renters as possible, recognizing that while the $12.9 million provided by the RENT program is not enough to meet the overwhelming need, it is a proud step we can take to help Austin renters in need.”

The Austin Apartment Association Executive Vice President Emily Blair shared support of the RENT program stating “Austin Apartment Association members work closely with our renters in the community to help connect them with resources and meet immediate needs.  Working together, the RENT program will provide much-needed assistance to Austin renters impacted financially by COVID-19 and help keep Austin’s supply of rental housing intact.”

RENT Assistance Program Eligibility Requirements:

• Applicants must live within Austin’s full purpose city limits;
• Applicant household gross annual income must be 80 percent or less of the Median Family Income (See income chart below)”

Small Business Relief Grant Preliminary Metrics

The City of Austin has posted preliminary metrics taken from applications for the Small Business Relief Grant Program, which closes tomorrow, July 24 at 5PM. As of Tuesday evening, July 21, there were 1,333 applicants. 67% of these businesses have been partially operating during the pandemic, 22% have been completely closed, and 11% have been fully operational. The vast majority (784 applicants) are LLC’s, with 231 being sole proprietors and 237 operating under a different business structure. 1,105 applicants have received some other form of recovery funding, reporting an average of 6.9 employees with an average annual revenue of $974,000.

44% of businesses applying for funding have been in business for five years or under, 24% for six to ten years, 17% for ten to twenty years, 10% for over twenty years, and 4.35% for less than a year. 49% of executives applying are white, 18% are Asian, 14% are Hispanic/Latino, 7% are Black/African American, and 5% prefer not to answer. 700 executives are male and 606 are female. 440 applicants are between the ages of 30-39, 436 are between the ages of 40-49, 255 are between the ages of 50-59, 139 are over 60, 55 are between the ages of 20-29, and 8 prefer not to answer.

The top ten industries applying for the grant are, in order: Restaurants, Commercial Kitchens, Bars (268); Personal Care Services such as Barbers, Salons, Nail Salons, etc. (149); Arts, Entertainment, Recreation (145); Other Services (137); Retail (118); Health Care and Social  Assistance (112); Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services (77); Educational Services (70); Information, Software, Telecommunications, Media, etc. (43) and Finance, Insurance, Real Estate Rental and Leasing (42).

You still have a little over 24 hours to apply for this grant. If you are unsure if your business qualifies, take a minute to go over the eligibility criteria and grant FAQ, which has been updated with a list of questions received from businesses (refresh your browser window!) This page also contains charts of the metrics mentioned above. If you still have questions after reviewing the grant information page, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Better Business Bureau, who is administering the grant. They can be reached at 512-318-2683 and businessreliefgrant@austin.bbb.org. You can also reach out to us at for assistance at hello@ibuyaustin.com .

Gather your documentation, take a deep breath, and good luck!

 

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