Mayor Johnson lauds COVID-19 relief measures after City Council approval

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Office of the Mayor, Eric Johnson

April 22, 2020

Tristan Hallman
Chief of Policy and Communications | 469.785.1421

Mayor Eric Johnson lauds COVID-19 relief measures after City Council approval

DALLAS — The City Council on Wednesday passed three significant measures meant to assist those who have been affected by the emergency COVID-19 restrictions.

The City Council created a new ordinance meant to encourage landlords and tenants to work together to overcome COVID-19 hardships; authorized a $13.7 million rental and mortgage assistance program; and committed up to $5 million in loans and grants for small businesses.

"Collectively, these measures represent a significant undertaking meant to help as many people as we can under the financial constraints we have," Mayor Eric Johnson said. "We are looking at how to move forward while maintaining public health as our primary concern. And I want to assure the residents of Dallas that your city leaders are doing all we can to help you recover and rebuild."

The funding comes from new and repurposed federal dollars awarded to the City of Dallas for housing and COVID-19 economic relief.

After significant revisions to the original proposal submitted by a councilmember, the evictions ordinance unanimously passed the Ad Hoc Committee on COVID-19 Human and Social Recovery and Assistance, chaired by Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Adam McGough. The Ad Hoc Committee on COVID-19 Economic Recovery and Assistance, chaired by Councilmember Casey Thomas, approved the small business and rental and mortgage assistance programs.

"We want to put our money where our mouth is and provide relief to the residents of the City of Dallas who are hurting right now," Chairman Thomas said. "These programs, passed expediently and carefully by our committee, help those in need and send a message to our residents that we are putting our people first."

“Thanks to the input of external stakeholders and the transparent and comprehensive committee review process, today we passed balanced policies that provide needed relief for our neighbors," Deputy Mayor Pro Tem McGough said. "While this action is a step to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on our communities, it is only a step. Much work remains to be done as we pave the way towards long-term recovery.”

Mayor Johnson created the two committees, which collectively include all 14 city councilmembers, last month. At the request of the city manager, the mayor also suspended all other committee meetings through April 29 to allow city staff to focus on COVID-19 response and relief efforts.

Here is more information on each of the programs from the City of Dallas:

Mortgage and rental assistance program

The Mortgage and Rental Assistance program passed by Council will offer $6.1 million in rental and mortgage aid. Combined with services and programs that already exist within the city, $13.7 million is available.

Assistance will provide up to $1,500 for a maximum of three months per eligible household. To qualify for the pre-screening process, applicants must be City of Dallas residents who lost their jobs or were furloughed due to COVID-19.

The Mortgage and Rental Assistance program is a collaboration between the Office of Community Care and the Office of Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization.

The program is expected to open during the first week of May.

Small Business Continuity Fund (SBCF)

The Office of Economic Development will launch the $5 million Small Business Continuity Fund. The fund will provide up to $10,000 in grants and up to $50,000 in low-cost loans to small businesses affected by COVID-19.

The businesses must be able to prove they were in operation for a minimum of six months prior to March 16, 2020 and demonstrate a 25% drop in revenue due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

The goal of the fund is to ensure continued operations of small businesses and job retention by those businesses.

The application is expected to go live in May for grants and loans to begin in June.

Evictions notice ordinance

The COVID Notice Ordinance requires residential landlords to issue a “COVID Notice of Possible Eviction” that provides tenants information on rental assistance and at least 21 days to negotiate lease payment agreements with landlords.

The ordinance also allows for a 60-day eviction notice if a substantial financial hardship can be proven.

The proposed ordinance explicitly excludes any delays of evictions when there is evidence of abatable criminal activity and does not excuse any requirement for the tenant to pay rent under the agreed-upon lease.

The ordinance would only remain in effect in conjunction with the declared disaster declaration and is limited in its application to residential properties.