San Antonians have helped reduce the spread of COVID-19 by staying at home and engaging in social distancing.
Although the coronavirus likely will be part of our lives for a long time, I am happy to confirm that our efforts to slow down the virus have been successful.
The number of COVID-19 cases is far below what we would have seen in our city if we had not halted non-essential activities.
Across the nation, one necessary side effect of the fight against COVID-19 has been the loss of income by many workers due to their employers’ temporarily closing. And many San Antonians have been furloughed or laid off, creating financial hardships through no fault of their own.
But help is available to get San Antonians through this crisis.
One of the most important acts by City Council since the COVID-19 crisis changed our lives was last month’s vote to approve the creation of the COVID-19 Emergency Housing Assistance Program to respond to the growing need for housing assistance.
We voted to allocate $25 million from various sources so San Antonians who are having trouble paying their rent, mortgages, utilities and other expenses can get some much needed relief to help them get through this crisis.
I am proud of this vote to ensure that San Antonio workers who aren’t working because of the COVID-19 pandemic are able to stay in their homes. It is our duty to help our neighbors in times of need, and that is what we are doing.
This new program provides rent, mortgage, utility and internet help in the event of a hardship. Funds are paid directly to the landlord, financial institution, internet provider and utility provider.
Also, as much as $300 in cash assistance for groceries, medicine and fuel will be distributed directly to individuals or families.
The program is scheduled to continue through July.
Many San Antonians need the help. Earlier this year, the city’s Neighborhood and Housing Services Department (NHSD) received on average 57 inquiries each week for housing assistance. That number jumped to 5,370 during the week of April 13.
The assistance fund is piggybacking on the Risk Mitigation Fund, created in 2018 at the recommendation of the Mayor’s Housing Policy Task Force.
Learn more about the program or apply for the COVID-19 Emergency Housing Assistance at https://www.sanantonio.gov/NHSD/Programs/FairHousing. Residents can also call 311.
Here are the basic rules from city staff. To apply for assistance you 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.
· provide proof of financial hardship that makes you unable to pay rent, mortgage or
· have an income at or below 100 percent of the Area Median Income. Under
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) guidelines, a San Antonio
family earning $72,000 a year or less would qualify for the program.
Ron Nirenberg is mayor of San Antonio.