Travis County commissioners took an emergency step toward eviction prevention for local families at a Jan. 3 meeting after a city of Austin program that would typically provide the relief ran out of funding.

The county approved $80,000 in one-time ARPA funds to provide financial assistance, such as rent and deposits, for 23 local families who have entered what the county refers to as “an immediate crisis situation.”

The families had been working with Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid—a nonprofit that provides free legal services to low-income residents—and El Buen Samaritano, and were deemed eligible and negotiated a stay with their landlord.

The $80,000 serves as emergency relief while the families facing eviction are in limbo due to a gap in city and county programming. The city of Austin’s Relief of Emergency Needs for Tenants program has exhausted federal funds, according to a city spokesperson. Continuing the program will require a full procurement process, which could take up to several months to complete, according to county documents.

“The county is stepping in because the city has run out of money to provide that assistance. So we are helping those 23 families to avoid eminent eviction,” Commissioner Brigid Shea said at the meeting.

Austin’s Housing and Planning Department has an item going to council on Jan. 26 to add $600,000 to an existing contract with El Buen Samaritano that will enable the city to help additional residents needing rental assistance.

Further, Travis County is working on a long-term program for rental assistance, which would provide local fiscal recovery funds—funding given to the county due to COVID-19—to TRGLA and the Austin Tenants Council. The court will take the next steps on the program after deciding how to allocate the remainder of the funds, according to county documents.