San Antonio – A $191 million plan to help San Antonio residents, workers, and businesses recover from the COVID-19 pandemic has broad support among registered voters, according to the Bexar Fact-KSAT-Rivard Report poll results released Tuesday.
The COVID-19 “recovery and resiliency” plan was approved by city council earlier this month and is expected use a mix of federal and local dollars. Its various facets include providing job training and stipends for workers, grants for small businesses, housing assistance for people who can’t make their rent or mortgage, and providing in-home internet access to students.
While the general idea has been approved, council committees are still working to flesh out the details of the specific programs. The city expects to begin their implementation in July.
The results of the Bexar Facts-KSAT-RIvard Report poll showed that 77 to 93 percent of registered Bexar County voters supported various aspects of the plan:
- 93 percent support providing small business support, including counseling and grant payments to small businesses.
- 92 percent support providing workforce development support, including job training and child care for essential workers.
- 87 percent support providing Wi-Fi networks, technology, and other infrastructure to connect K-12 and college students to the internet.
- 77 percent support providing housing assistance, including rental and mortgage support payments and direct cash to low-income residents.
“I think folks recognize the kinds of personal costs, an enormous dislocation that the pandemic and the response have created in our community,” said UTSA Professor of Public Administration Heywood Sanders.
Housing assistance is one area where the council has previously taken concrete steps. It approved growing the Risk Mitigation Fund, now known as the COVID-19 Emergency Housing Assistance Program, to $25 million dollars back in April. The new recovery and resiliency plan would provide even more money to help keep people in their homes.
However, housing assistance was also the area with the least enthusiastic support among poll respondents. Only 46 percent of respondents “strongly” supported that initiative, compared to at least 65 percent for the other three, and 21 percent opposed the idea.
Sanders suspects that has to do with the inclusion of “direct cash” payments in the polling question.
“Handing out money to people often can can be a rather more divisive issue. It involves perception of need and merit, et cetera, that the others don’t,” Sanders said.
The cash payments from the program passed in April were a secondary benefit, though. While bills for rent or utilities were paid directly by the city, the families also received up to a few hundred dollars, depending on the number of family members, to help pay for expenses like gas and groceries.
The Bexar County-KSAT-Rivard Report poll was conducted online and over the phone on June 10-14 in English and Spanish with 616 registered Bexar County voters.