AUSTIN, Texas - Mayor pro-tem Delia Garza, and council member Greg Casar have both filed partner resolutions to dig into an emergency fund to help Austinites during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We thought this was something we can do now quickly and possibly have to allocate more later and hope the federal funding helps us react helps us address this increase in need we are seeing in our community,” said Garza.
The council will take up the resolutions at their next meeting. If it passes, $15 million dollars will be allocated to existing non-profits like the Central Texas Food Bank.
“It's really providing the same services they already were providing but allowing services for new clients and increasing the capacity for those people now,” said Garza.
Garza said COVID-19 has created a substantial crisis for many families.
“We are seeing an increased need from families who need basic things like food, diapers, and rental assistance,” she said.
The number of confirmed cases in the area keeps growing. The city shuttered non-essential businesses, including construction. However, this week, the governor changed that, reopening commercial and residential projects.
“The City of Austin had taken those measures to keep essential sites open. We think that was the right public health decision and the governor's order creates confusion, further exposing construction workers and their families to the disease. We did see the city was starting to take measures to provide the economic necessities for these families,” said Emily Timm, co-executive director at the Workers Defense Project.
Sean Forkner with Central South Regional Carpenters Regional Council said he has been hearing from his members that workers were happy to go back to work.
“A lot of guys in the industry, they, are living check to check, and it's a big risk to weigh. I reached out to my membership. A lot of the guys say they want to continue working, that was our stance. So we can put in safety standards,” said Forkner.
Forkner said that is what they are doing, taking temperatures at worksites, and putting in handwashing stations.
The city continues to urge all to follow social distancing and stay home orders, which the mayor's office said could be extended.
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