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Austin woman can't pay rent as May approaches

Denise Seay was part of the one-third of Americans who couldn't pay April rent.

AUSTIN, Texas — Rent and mortgage payments are due in a few days and many Americans will once again not be able to pay them.

Nearly a third of tenants in the U.S. didn't pay their April rent, including people in Austin. Now, they're scrambling to figure out what to do for the next month.

Denise Seay cleans houses for a living, but not as many as before COVID-19. Seay said she lost many clients after the pandemic hit.

But after KVUE featured her on April 1, she got several offers and donations.

"I got three new jobs that are stable jobs," she said.

It was enough to pay her car note and some of her rent. But in a few days, Seay faces another round of bills she can't pay, and she doesn't know what to do.

"I still haven't completely paid last month's rent. I'm looking at a new month – new rent coming, new car payment, things are coming back around. I'm struggling again," she said.

RELATED: Austin cleaning woman receives community support

She's not alone. Austinites having the same issue reached out to KVUE through the Nextdoor social network.

One told us about her struggles after being hit by a car and then losing her job because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Hyde Park woman won't be able to pay her May rent.

Another wrote and simply asked, "Where will people get the money to pay bills much less rent in May?"

RELATED: Travis County judge prohibits evictions, notices to vacate due to COVID-19

There's a federal bill that proposes to eliminate rent and mortgages for an entire year, as long as COVID-19 is around.

Seay said that sounds great but she has doubts.

"Is that reality? Is that something that's really going to happen?" Seay asked.

With little congressional support now, it's a good question.

RELATED: Second stimulus plan proposes to send Americans $2,000 per month for 6 months

In the meantime, Seay sees more panhandling on the streets, a new sign of the times.

"People are desperate," she said.

Last month, the Austin City Council passed an ordinance allowing a 60-day grace period on rental payments for tenants coping with effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Two weeks ago, the council also passed the RISE fund, with money for low-income residents to help with essential needs and rental assistance.


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