COVID-19 May 4 Updates: Eligible Austinites Can Apply For Rent Assistance Monday Through Wednesday

May 4, 2020

We'll be updating this story throughout the day Monday with the latest local news on the coronavirus pandemic. If you have a news tip or question, email us at news@KUT.org.

Update at 8:21 a.m. — Starting Monday, Austinites can apply for rental assistance until Wednesday night

If you need help paying your monthly rent, you can apply for the City of Austin's $1.2 million fund for one-time emergency rental assistance starting Monday at 9 a.m. through 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.

The payments, which will be distributed through a lottery system, are expected to help about 1,000 families, the city said. Residents can apply on the Housing Authority of the City of Austin's website.

Eligibility is limited to households that are at or below 80% of the median family income and to those who can document both a financial impact by COVID-19 and need of rent relief, including — for example — paystubs, unemployment notice or notice of rent due. 

Applicants do not need to have a Social Security number to apply, and the city says immigration status will not disqualify someone for help.

Read more about the rental assistance program here.

Update at 7:56 a.m. — Leander ISD moves its high school graduation dates to July

The Leander Independent School District has moved its 2020 high school graduations to July 9 through July 11.

The district says it will choose from among three potential commencement scenarios based on logistics and guidance from public health officials.

The first option includes a regular ceremony, full audience and livestream. The second scenario would be a regular ceremony with a limited number of guests seated at least six feet apart and a livestream. The last option is a shortened ceremony with pre-recorded speeches and no audience, though parents could watch their student receive a diploma.

Leander ISD graduations are being planned for the H-E-B Center. A final decision will be made by June 19. Austin ISD has postponed graduations until August 10-13 at the Erwin Center, depending on conditions at the time. Virtual graduations for AISD are also being planned for around June 15.

Update at 7:55 a.m. — Free pet food will be distributed for those having difficulty taking care of their animals

If you or someone you know is struggling to provide food for a pet, the Austin Humane Society is holding a Pet Food Pantry event Tuesday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. at 124 West Anderson Lane. Those in need of assistance must register for a specific time slot to pick up pet food.

The organization is expecting to serve at least 800 dogs and cats during the event. You can find more about the event on Austin Humane Society's website

Catch up on what happened over the weekend

Cases increase to 1,756 locally and to 31,548 statewide

Travis County reported 73 more COVID-19 cases over the weekend — 31 new cases were reported on Saturday and 42 were reported on Sunday. No new deaths related to COVID-19 were reported on Saturday, but one was reported on Sunday. There have now been 1,756 cases reported in the area and 52 deaths. 

Texas reported 2,319 more cases of COVID-19 over the weekend — 1,293 new cases on Saturday and 1,026 new cases on Sunday. Saturday’s number was the second-highest increase since the state began reporting cases. The highest was April 10 when 1,441 cases were reported. The increase in cases comes as testing ramps up in Texas. There have been 31,548 known cases in Texas, and 867 fatalities, according to the Department of State Health Services.

This was the first weekend of Gov. Greg Abbott’s new order that allows retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters and malls to reopen provided they limit occupancy to no more than 25%. Some restaurants and businesses began opening in Austin and across the state, while others opted to remain closed. 

Other local coronavirus news from the weekend:

  • For the second Sunday in a row, Travis County Parks had to close Pace Bend Park and Reimers Ranch Park because there were too many visitors. The parks were closed for the day “to manage the safety of visitors and staff,” according to a tweet from the department. 
  • Austin Animal Shelter announced it will remain closed to the public until May 29, after it received guidance from the city manager. Adoptions, stray pet registry and other operations are continuing from a "safe distance," the shelter said on Twitter.

What's happening statewide? Check out special coverage from KERA for North Texas, Houston Public MediaTexas Public Radio in San Antonio and Marfa Public Radio.

If you find this reporting valuable, please consider making a donation to support it. Your gift pays for everything you find on KUT.org. Thanks for donating today.