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Central Texas experienced historic winter weather the week of Feb. 14, with a stretch of days below freezing. Sleet followed snow followed freezing rain, leading to a breakdown of the electric grid and widespread power outages. Water reservoirs were depleted and frozen pipes burst, leaving some without service for days.

Travis County Halts The Eviction Of 85 Families Who Were Told To Leave Because Of Damage From The Texas Freeze

A sign outside of a home calling to stop evictions.
Gabriel C. Pérez
/
KUT
A sign outside of a home calling to stop evictions on Sept. 1. The Travis County Commissioners Court ordered Tuesday to halt the eviction of 85 families in an affordable housing apartment complex in South Austin who had been told they had to leave to repair damage caused by February's winter storm.

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Nearly 90 families living in a Travis County-backed affordable housing complex will not be evicted at the end of the month.

Residents at the Rosemont at Oak Valley apartment complex in South Austin were given notices to vacate at the start of the month by Capstone Real Estate Services, which manages the property. Capstone cited winter storm-related repairs and renovations as the reason why the 85 families were being evicted.

After backlash last week, county commissioners on Tuesday invited testimony from residents, who argued the repairs were longstanding issues related to mold and flooding that predated February's winter storm. After hours of testimony, commissioners voted to halt the eviction process and directed county staff to find housing alternatives and resources for those who may need to relocate.

"I don't think it's acceptable to any of us to have that notice hanging over your head," Travis County Judge Andy Brown said.

Travis County has owned the 85-unit affordable housing apartment complex since 2019. It's overseen by the Housing Authority of Travis County and has been managed by Capstone since March.

Patrick Howard, the CEO of the county's housing authority, told commissioners that the agency had heard that complaints about the property were a "persistent problem" that started before Capstone took over management.

"It does sound like there were issues going on for some time," Howard told commissioners.

Rosemont resident Claudia Wilson was one of the more than a dozen residents who said they were being evicted, even though their homes were not damaged during the historic Texas freeze in February.

Wilson said she's a mother of five and she's expecting another child, and that it would be impossible for her to find a three- or four-bedroom unit that she can afford in Austin if she's evicted. On top of that, she lost her job during the pandemic, she said.

"My kids will be starting school here in the next maybe few weeks, and I just don't see how we are going to be able to be moving farther from ... the school and also looking for a place and I also have a new baby coming," she said. "So it's very stressful for me to worry ... [and] the expectation for me to be out by the end of the month is not realistic."

"We need your help," Wilson told commissioners ahead of the vote.

KUT reached out to Capstone for comment Tuesday, but has not yet heard back.

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