© 2024 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Bexar County continues to allocate federal COVID relief dollars as recovery from pandemic continues

Brian Kirkpatrick
CPS Energy meter

Bexar County Commissioners continue to shuffle and allocate the last of several million dollars of the $389 million in COVID relief funds where needed locally as the recovery continues from the pandemic.

The relief funds were allocated to local governments across the nation under the American Rescue Plan Act to help. The funds must be requested by local governments by the end of this year and fully spent by the end of 2026 or they must be returned to the Treasury Department.

Some funds previously allocated by commissioners for programs or organizations were not needed or not spent and are now subject to local re-allocation.

On Tuesday, commissioners allocated $3.6 million for a supplemental low-income household energy assistance program to ensure there are enough resources available to qualified residents through February 2025.

Virginia Jimenez of the county's economic and community development department told commissioners 2023 was hard on low-income residents trying to pay their power bills.

She said inflation and a CPS Energy rate hike just under 4% ate into household budgets, and then came the weather extremes.

"There was record heat in 2023, with 75 days over 100 degrees and... seven in a row of over 105 degrees. There was record cold in 2023, with 10 days under 35 degrees," Jimenez said.

COVID relief dollars for utility assistance are on the decline and will eventually run out, but local bill paying assistance includes the county's Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program or CEAP. and the Residential Energy Assistance Partnership or REAP.

CPS Energy contributes $1 million annually to REAP and works to raise more while the county and city handle the application process to assist low-income residents pay their bills.

REAP benefits are limited to a maximum of $400 a year.

TPR was founded by and is supported by our community. If you value our commitment to the highest standards of responsible journalism and are able to do so, please consider making your gift of support today.