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City Council Approves $25 Million COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund For San Antonians

Click here to read this story in Spanish

The San Antonio City Council has approved creating a $25 million  COVID-19 emergency housing assistance during the coronavirus pandemic.

The fund will help San Antonio residents pay rent, mortgage, utilities, internet, groceries, medication and gas. It would assist up to $3,500 in rent or mortgage payments and up to $1,500 for utilities based on annual income plus a maximum of $300 for groceries or gasoline based on family size.

City Council members voted 10-1 to approve its creation and place additional money into the fund.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg says the city and county are prioritizing the most disadvantaged residents.  

“We know this is stressing every household in San Antonio especially those who are without jobs and so this will help shore up a safety net for them and increase the amount of resources we have to do it,” Nirenberg said.

The Bexar County Commissioners Court approved a similar fund earlier on Tuesday.

The city’s emergency fund uses relocated and reassigned money from the city budget - like the affordable housing program - as well as stimulus money from the recently passed CARES act and other federal funding.  It’s expected to help about 15,000 to 20,000 families pay essential necessities.

Residents who would like to apply must show economic hardship related to the pandemic.

The fund was initially set to have $15.8 million, however, an additional $9.2 million was earmarked by city staff after council members requested additional funding. District 1 Councilman Roberto Treviño made the motion to approve adding the $9 million.

“It’s not that we don’t know how much we need, it’s that we are going to need more. We know that there’s people that are falling between the cracks that’s the bottom line,” Treviño said. “They depend on us to represent them, they depend on us to recognize that many of them especially in our community are not getting federal assistance, we can’t let that happen.”

The additional money is coming from the general fund – mainly $2.5 million that was reserved for the city’s parking enterprise fund that’s used for developing parking facilities in order to leverage affordable housing. Other money is coming from the San Antonio Housing Trust, and tax increment reinvestment zones.

District 10 Councilman Clayton Perry was the only no vote. However, the council said he supports the creation of the emergency assistance fund but did not support Councilman Treviño’s amendment for the additional $9 million. The councilman said there was a lack of data.  

“To me 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.

Those who are interested in applying can call 210-207-5779 or visit the city’s website at it’sFair Housing Program Page.

This is story will be updated.

TPR’s Joey Palacios can be reached at Joey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules.

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Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules