Rent assistance program could last until September, city staff say

$133.6M Emergency Housing Assistance Program helps struggling San Antonio and Bexar County residents pay bills

City staff members said that they have helped over 91,000 people in the community through the program.
City staff members said that they have helped over 91,000 people in the community through the program.

SAN ANTONIO – A popular rental assistance program could have enough money to last into September, city staff said during a committee meeting on Tuesday.

The Emergency Housing Assistance Program run by the City of San Antonio has already allocated more than $93 million to help more than 34,000 households around the city —and even in the wider county area—pay rent, mortgage, and utility bills.

Through a variety of funding phases over the past year, the program has grown to a $133.6 million budget, and staff hope to add at least $5 million more for county residents.

The city recently increased the limits on assistance up to nine months worth of payments, depending on income. Since then, city staff say they’ve seen an increase in how much they’re allocating every week - though they think it’s leveling out.

“So I think and I anticipate that this number will stay true to about in that $2.2 to $2.5 million range per week. Now, what that does is that gets us funding - or that allows us to have enough funding for the program through September,” Neighborhood and Housing Services Department Assistant Director Ed Gonzales told council members during Tuesday’s Culture and Neighborhood Services Committee meeting.

The city has been helping county residents with rental assistance as well since January using funds from the Texas Emergency Rental Assistance Program and county general funds. That $2.1 million has already been expended, though, Gonzales said.

The city is working with the county to accept an additional $5 million in U.S. Treasury funds, which Gonzales said would bring the total EHAP budget to $138.6 million.

Bexar County residents also have some protection through a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moratorium on evictions over unpaid rent. It’s not automatic, though. Residents have to file a declaration with their landlord about their inability to pay rent and affirm they’re trying to make at least partial payments.

Gonzales told council members that Bexar County Justices of the Peace have said they will honor the moratorium through its June 30 expiration date.

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About the Authors:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.

Before starting at KSAT in August 2011, Ken was a news photographer at KENS. Before that he was a news photographer at KVDA TV in San Antonio. Ken graduated from San Antonio College with an associate's degree in Radio, TV and Film. Ken has won a Sun Coast Emmy and four Lone Star Emmys. Ken has been in the TV industry since 1994.