SAN ANTONIO – The impending end to San Antonio Housing Authority’s eviction moratorium sent some scrambling last month to apply for rental help through the city’s Emergency Housing Assistance Program.
“We’re talking about poverty-stricken communities where we reside that definitely need some type of assistance,” Gabriela Garcia said last month as she waited to apply for assistance.
“Focus and stay positive and pushing myself so I can get back to work, so I don’t have to keep looking for help out there,” Patricia Mesch added as she waited in the same line.
Many applications were submitted right before the March 1 deadline.
“We still have about over 6,500 applications pending processing,” said Veronica Garcia, deputy director of the city’s Neighborhood and Housing Services Department.
Overall, Garcia said the city had awarded almost $200 million in assistance.
“We had over 106,000 people applying for Emergency Housing Assistance Program since April 2020, which is when that program opened,” Garcia said.
While the city is not accepting more applications, they’re assisting those who have pending applications.
San Antonio Housing Authority Chief Operating Officer Brandee Perez said they’re being flexible with their families during this time and have not started evictions.
“We are waiting to make sure that any amounts that they were getting assistance with are going to get posted to their accounts,” Perez said.
On top of continued work with the city, SAHA met with CPS Energy Wednesday to begin utility assistance.
“Many of them are behind as we figure it on their utilities, and we just didn’t want that disconnect. We didn’t want another barrier for them,” Perez said.
Perez explained they’re planning on dates for CPS Energy representatives to meet with SAHA families at their properties.
Perez and Garcia say they’re committed to helping families and keeping them in their homes.
“Whatever we can do to help them get caught up, we’re going to do it for our families,” Perez said.
“Keeping people housed is a top priority. We know that the most affordable housing out there is the home that you’re already in,” Garcia said.
In April, Garcia says the city will open the housing assistance program. It’s a rebranding of their Risk Mitigation Fund.
“So under our previous program, only families experiencing hardship due to the pandemic would qualify for that assistance. Now, under the Housing Assistance Program, it’s much broader,” Garcia said.
It’s open to families experiencing any kind of financial hardship, like relocation, divorce, or even job loss.
“Lots of different things would qualify as a financial hardship and then hopefully help them qualify for that short-term rental assistance,” Garcia said.
Another program available is the Texas Housing Assistance Fund, which is state-run and opened for applications on March 2.
“It provides financial assistance to qualified Texas homeowners that have fallen behind on their mortgages specifically due to the pandemic,” Garcia said. “So these funds can be used to help families get current on their mortgage. It can help them pay for any back taxes, property taxes that they may owe homeowners insurance or everything that comes with being a homeowner.”
Per the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs website, TDHCA will administer $842,214,006 in Housing Assistance Funds.