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$14.5 million grant awarded to city for housing and homelessness mitigation efforts

City, county, and federal officials stand together holding a huge check showing how much money HUD awarded the city.
Josh Peck
City, county, and federal officials present the check HUD is awarding to the city's homelessness and affordable housing organizations.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced on Monday that it awarded the city 47 new housing vouchers and a $14,572,376 grant to be distributed to SA Hope Center, Haven for Hope, SAMMinistries, and Opportunity Home over the next three years.

HUD Regional Administrator Candace Valenzuela announced the funding at a press conference held at The Hudson Apartments, an apartment complex SAMMinistries owns and operates. City and county officials, including Mayor Ron Nirenberg and County Judge Peter Sakai, attended the event.

“The funding is also going towards housing navigation services to help people locate apartments with their identification, and steps like that,” said Katie Vela, executive director of the South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless (SARAH), which applied for the HUD grant. “It’s also going towards positions to help people get their benefit income secured more quickly, and then street outreach, rental assistance, and some other programs.”

She added that some funds would be used for administrative costs associated with managing permanent supportive housing, which is subsidized housing that can last for months or decades for residents in need.

Katie Vela, the executive director of SARAH, speaks at the podium during the HUD press conference.
Josh Peck
Katie Vela, the executive director of SARAH, speaks during the HUD press conference.

Critical to earning the grant funding was SARAH’s Lived Experience Advisory Board (LEAB), which helped write the application for the grant.

The LEAB is made up of individuals who have personally experienced homelessness and bring those experiences to city policymaking discussions and decisions.

“We can come to the table from our lived experience and say ‘hey, that did work, that didn’t work, maybe this’ll work,’ and for SARAH to give us this space for our voices to not only be heard, but [make] actual movement, guys this is life-saving work,” said Valerie Salas, director of Homeless Services at Christian Assistance Ministry and a former member of the LEAB.

Nirenberg thanked HUD and the White House for the funds.

“Words cannot express the gratitude because these resources are now going to make it possible for hundreds, if not thousands, of more San Antonio families to thrive,” he said. “And we are all in on ending the cycles that contribute to housing insecurity: lack of economic mobility, socioeconomic inequity, generational poverty.”

Vela said SARAH’s plan was to apply for additional funding in three years after the current grant expires.

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