SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) – San Antonio City Council has approved a $25 million emergency housing assistance package to help residents make ends meet as the coronavirus crisis continues.
“I am proud of this vote to ensure that San Antonio workers who have been laid off or furloughed because of the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to pay their rent and stay in their
homes,” said Mayor Ron Nirenberg. “It is our duty to help the most vulnerable among us, and this crisis has created a true emergency.
In addition to the $15.8 million Risk Mitigation Fund, which is primarily federal dollars, the city council on Thursday approved $9.2 million in local tax money to help those who are not eligible for federal funds, such as undocumented immigrants.
“We will not leave the neediest among us behind, ” said Nirenberg.
The council unanimously approved $15.8 million for the Risk Mitigation Fund, but Councilman Clayton Perry was the only one to vote against using $9.2 million dollars in local tax money for the COVID-19 Emergency Housing Assistance program. Perry questioned why that money is being approved before they have data on the number of people who actually need the help.
“We’re putting the cart before the horse. We don’t even know what federal money is going to be available for this,” Perry said.
City Manager Erik Walsh said they’ll have an update for city council in 30 days, but they want to have the housing assistance program in place before May 1st when many local residents who have lost their jobs will be having to come up with rent money.
Walsh said they’ll have a better understanding in 30 days to quantify what the need is, but “I think it’s safe to say that there is a need right now.”
Perry agrees that there’s a need, but he disapproved of the idea that they’re taking an additional $9.2 million dollars out of other city funds to fill, what he called, “a perceived need.”
In addition to helping residents pay their rent or mortage with funds from the city’s Risk Mitigation Fund, the COVID-19 Emergency Housing Assistance Program will provide direct cash up to $300 for help with buying groceries, medicines and gasoline.
Applicants must show proof that their income has been reduced because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They must be the primary lease or mortgage holder in a multifamily unit, mobile home, or single-family home within the city limits of San Antonio, have an income at or below 100% of the Area Median Income. Under these Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) guidelines, a San Antonio family earning $72,000 a year or below would qualify for the program.
You can get more information on the program or apply for the COVID-19 Emergency Housing Assistance at https://www.sanantonio.gov/NHSD/Programs/FairHousing. San Antonio residents can also call 311.
“The reason San Antonio can adapt quickly to develop the largest emergency housing assistance program in the state, and maybe the country, is because we have been focused on making housing affordable for several years,” said District 5 Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales. “During this difficult time, families should not have to worry that they won’t have a place to live, especially as we tell residents to stay home to slow the spread of COVID-19.”