Program helping low-income families rehabilitate homes not up to city code

SAN ANTONIO – Low-income families who can't afford to get their homes up to code have the chance to apply for help from the city of San Antonio.

The city's Owner Occupied Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Program is now accepting applications from homeowners to help fix their homes. While the program isn't new, it has drastically grown over the past year.

Eighteen families were helped last year. This year, thanks to $6.5 million in federal and city funds, the program helped 80 families.

The city received the same amount of funding this year, so it can help 81 low-income families rehab their homes in 2020. 

Pablo and Esperanza Herrera have lived in their house on the Southeast Side for 22 years. Their home hasn't always had the fresh coat of new paint and new floors.

The Herreras' home was built in 1952. The plumbing was corroded. The electrical wiring was not up to date. There was no insulation and no central heating or air conditioning.

“We didn't get to enjoy the whole house because, for some reason, we never had central air,” Esperanza Herrera said.

Pablo Herrera is in his late 60s and is disabled. He said there is no way they could afford the $70,000 of renovations to his home to keep it up to city code until the city stepped in.

“Never dreamed that something like this was possible,” Pablo Herrera said.

Thanks to the program, the Herreras have a new kitchen, bathroom, roof, electrical wiring, plumbing, insulation and central heating and air conditioning.

The city can invest up to $90,000 per home. There are several qualifications that applicants must meet. Below is the full list of the requirements:

The 80% limit per household size is as follows:

Household size annual income

The funding for the program more than doubled after a 2017 Housing Policy Task Force found that many city residents couldn't afford to keep their homes up to code.

The goals of the program are to avoid having families abandon their homes and to improve low-income neighborhoods.

“We hope it improves the quality of life for that family but also the quality of life of the neighbors, as well,” said Veronica Soto, director of Neighborhood and Housing Services.

The city is accepting applications until Sept. 24.  Those interested in applying can click here for more information.

Eighty-one families will be chosen through a lottery system Oct. 1. Construction for the selected homes will take place next year.

About the Authors:

Sarah Acosta

Sarah Acosta joined the KSAT12 News team in April 2018 as a morning reporter for Good Morning San Antonio. She is a native South Texan girl, hailing from Corpus Christi.