SAN ANTONIO – A program to help residents who are struggling because of the pandemic pay their rent and other bills still has tens of millions of dollars to dole out.
The Emergency Housing Assistance Program (EHAP) has received a total of $133.6 million in chunks over the past year from various funding sources. The latest funding top-off, $46.8 million of U.S. Treasury funding in February, is one reason it still has nearly 44% of the money available -- $58.4 million.
That’s before any additional rent assistance money from a stimulus bill passed by Congress is added to the mix.
The EHAP has been a popular program since it started in April 2020 and has distributed money to more than 29,400 households, with assistance for rent, utilities, internet service and even cash.
San Antonio and Bexar County residents who can show hardship because of the pandemic and earn less than 80% of the Area Median Income are eligible for help. Bexar County residents appear only to be eligible for rental assistance, while city residents can also get help with water, power and internet service.
The city has also expanded the amount of help recipients can get to either six or nine months, depending on their income. It has also “reset” the allowances, so residents who previously maxed out how much help they could get under prior guidelines are once again eligible.
However, they won’t be able to get assistance for the same period of time for which they already got help.
“So if that person got -- or received April, May and June of last year, we cannot pay for April, May and June of last year. We would be -- we could only pay for, as an example, if they were in arrears for December, then we could pay December. We could pay January, February, March and a future rent -- one month of future rent,” Neighborhood and Housing Services Department Assistant Director Edward Gonzales told a city council committee on Wednesday.
Gonzales acknowledged that the turnaround time for dispensing payment has been drawn out because of lost days of work during the February weather and power crisis. However, he said they now have additional staff on board, which should help increase processing time.
For more information on the program, visit the city’s website HERE.