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Social services expect further demand as COVID-19 safety nets expire

More requests for help likely on top of already bigger caseloads

SAN ANTONIO – The Family Service Association and the House of Neighborly Service are two of the city’s oldest social service agencies, helping those in need for over a century.

Yet, since the COVID-19 pandemic, Mary Garr, Family Service president and CEO, said the agency has seen “a significant increase in the number of people and services.”

Garr said she expects even more requests for help as the safety nets set up by the state of Texas for those affected by the pandemic begin to expire.

"These rents didn't go away. The utilities didn't go away. They've just been pushed back a little bit," Garr said. "So how are they going to be able to meet those needs?"

Although the moratorium on evictions has expired, the Texas Workforce Commission has yet to reinstate searching for a job as a requirement to obtain unemployment benefits. Also, a spokesman for CPS Energy said its temporary suspension of disconnecting service remains in effect.

Josephine Garza who picked up five days of food from the House of Neighborly Service, said despite losing her job, her landlord is willing to work with her.

"But even at that, we're still struggling with either this or that or diapers or milk or what not," said the mother of two children.

Garr said the Family Service Association assisting in developing the recovery plan in the works by the city of San Antonio and Bexar County.

She said it will take a "comprehensive community effort" to help hard-hit families recover, but not just for the immediate future.

Garr said, "It's how do we set them up for a lifetime sustainable path for success?"

She said it will take job training, learning new skills, and tackling issues like food and housing insecurities.

Garr said, “All of these play together. It’s not just one need. It’s a whole host of them.”


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