City considers federal money ‘Recovery & Resilience Plan’

Job training, small business grants, domestic violence intervention all options in efforts to use CARES Act money

Plan coming together to distribute millions of federal stimulus dollars to help San Antonio recover after the COVID-19 pandemic

SAN ANTONIO – City staff presented San Antonio city council members with proposals Wednesday on how to use some of the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund money the city received to help the community recover.

The City of San Antonio received $270 million in CRF money through the CARES Act that it can use to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency. The so-called “COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Plan” focuses on how some of the money could be channeled, along with other funding sources, for community support.

The plan was presented more as a framework, based on four major pillars: workforce development, small business support, digital divide and housing security.

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Other expenses, such as testing, contact tracing, PPE, or extra personnel costs, were not included in the plan but are still being handled by the city.

Instead, proposed programs under the plan included ideas, ranging from cash assistance through the Family Independence Initiative, grants for businesses with 20 or fewer employees, providing additional homeless shelter options and helping with job training.

City Manager Erik Walsh told council members that staff recommended a balance between immediate needs and addressing potential long-term economic damage from the pandemic.

“I think some of these there’s an obvious timeline or are obvious priority. At least some of these we’re going to need to wait for additional funding to come in, and then some of them could be potential efforts, as Dr. Bridger said in her presentation, that is kind of a road map for the next 18 months,” Walsh said.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg said he liked that the city was viewing the plan as a resilience strategy.

“We’re not trying to get back to the way things were. If we’re doing it effectively, we’re not shooting for a normal that means that there’s still 60,000 families in our food bank lines as the economy continues to ramp up but that we are better than that,” Nirenberg said.

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A budget on how exactly the funds might be divvied up won’t be presented until May. 28. As part of the “guiding principles” of the plan, staff said they are looking to use all of the funding available to them - not only the CARES Act money.

Any of the CRF money the city uses must be for expenses incurred on or before Dec. 30.

The council could vote to ratify the plan as soon as June 4.

Read more COVID-19 coverage from here.

About the Author:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.