SAN ANTONIO – In a 10-1 vote Thursday afternoon, San Antonio City Council members passed a nearly $191 million plan that would provide job training, rent assistance, and small business grants, among other programs, for residents struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Councilman Courage talks about our annual budget as a moral document,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg told his fellow councilmembers before the vote. “Well now, this is where we put our money where our mouth is, which is why we’ve got to double down on the people in this community, the small businesses in this community, the services that are essential in this post-COVID economy, right now. And it goes beyond just this COVID plan. It goes on into FY 21 and then FY 22, and years and years after that. This is going to be an ongoing conversation for us to change the economic and social trajectory of this city."
The “COVID-19 Community Recovery and Resiliency Plan” provides money across four major areas, or “pillars”:
• $75 million for workforce development
• $50.5 million for housing security
• $38.1 million for small business support
• $27.3 million for digital inclusion
The plan stems from council members’ directions on how they wanted to spend some of the $270 million in CRF money the city received from the federal CARES Act. Funding will come from $96.3 million worth of federal money and $94.6 million from the city’s general fund.
Most of the federal funding comes from the CRF money, which must be used by Dec. 30.
Little changed from what city staff presented council members a week earlier - a switch of $5 million from the workforce development into small business support. The money will be used to develop a three month on-the-job training program for 1,000 people at businesses that have 500 or fewer employees.
City staff called the plan a “living document,” and City Manager Erik Walsh said the city will need to adjust based on need.
Staff members will work with city council committees through the rest of June to develop implementation plans, beginning July 1.
District 10 Councilman Clayton Perry was the lone vote against the plan.
Several groups, such as the Texas Organizing Project and Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, pushed unsuccessfully for the vote be delayed because they did not feel there had been enough opportunities for community input.