AUSTIN, Texas — In an effort to ease the burden on Austinites struggling to pay rent during the coronavirus pandemic, the Austin City Council voted on an emergency ordinance, allowing for a 60-day grace period for rent payments.

The anti-eviction ordinance voted on Thursday protects those unable to pay April or May rent from being evicted. The Council announced it would consider extending the ordinance to future months if needed.

The ordinance creates a 60-day grace period after rent is officially due before eviction proceedings can begin due to nonpayment.

The ordinance applies only during this local disaster, as it is meant to protect public health by ensuring that people are not displaced from their homes during a time where the public is being asked to quarantine and social-distance from home.

RELATED: 

List: Here's what's open during the order to stay home

Austin-based TurnKey Vacation Rentals refuses to refund customers canceling because of coronavirus

Councilmember Greg Casar is sponsoring the ordinance, along with co-sponsors Mayor Steve Adler, Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza and council member Kathie Tovo.

“No one should be kicked out of their home or business during a pandemic,” Casar said. “During the pandemic, a lot of things have been stopped in their tracks: but, for working families, the bills have not stopped. So, we’re stepping in.”  

Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza said more than 50% of Austin residents are renters who, during coronavirus, are experiencing uncertainty and instability. 

“We are taking emergency action to give people the relief they need," Garza said. "No one should lose their home during this pandemic."

The ordinance is posted as an emergency item, in order to protect renters and small businesses before April 1 rent is due. If residents can pay rent, they should pay their rent. But for those who have lost income and cannot afford rent, the ordinance can provide critical protections during this crisis.

WATCH: The economic impact of the coronavirus

PEOPLE ARE ALSO READING:

Dozens of Austin swimmers spotted near Barton Springs Pool amid social distancing, 'stay-at-home' order

List: 100 things to do while stuck at home social distancing

If you were really sick in January, is it possible you already had the coronavirus? Infection control expert answers your questions