Dallas council approves rental relief fund, eviction pause, small businesses assistance

The city of Dallas plans to distribute nearly $10 million to people in danger of being evicted after losing their jobs from the COVID-19 crisis or to small businesses needing help.

The city of Dallas also extended its emergency disaster declaration through May 12. That gives the mayor and city manager the ability to extend emergency regulations past this month. The city will adjust to state guidelines.

City officials say it’s a two-pronged approach to help people who have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

The city will start accepting applications for rent assistance May 4. But the $4.5 million in mortgage and rental assistance is expected to be exhausted in only a matter of days, officials said.

The funds will be capped at $1,500 a month for three months for people who earn 80 percent of the area median income. That would be around $69,000 a year for a family of four.

“We’re just not going to have enough funds for everybody,” said Dallas Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Adam McGough. “So we’ve got to try to use what we have strategically.”

But Dallas City Councilwoman Cara Mendelsohn pointed out that the city will only be looking at an applicant's last couple of pay stubs. She believes people with large assets, in say a 401k, may wind up getting the money before the most vulnerable do.

“We need an asset or home value test. We just had a news cycle about Shake Shack. Dollars should be going to those most in need,” Mendelsohn said.

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For those who can’t be helped with dollars, the city also passed a 60-day pause on evictions that will extend beyond the disaster declaration.

Councilman Adam Bazaldua proposed the 60-day rent eviction moratorium ordinance. He specifically wanted to extend the ordinance to last 60 days beyond when the COVID-19 disaster declaration is lifted.

“Those of you who are suffering, you don't know when next stimulus check is coming,” said councilman Omar Narvaez.

The city also passed a resolution that will provide $5 million in assistance to small businesses hit hard by COVID-19 crisis. The money from the federal CARES Act will be distributed in the form of either $10,000 grants or $50,000 loans.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of the Dallas economy,” said Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson.

Applications for Dallas businesses also go live on May 4. Owners could get the dollars as early as June 15.

Businesses will be required to retain 80 percent of the workforce they had February 29. The city has not yet released information about where people and businesses can apply for these funds.

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More than a million dollars of that funding is specifically directed to historically under-invested communities. It’s intended to be a very thorough process.