The City Council on Thursday allocated $500,000 from the city’s general fund for the installation of air conditioning units in 20 public housing complexes after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rejected the city’s request to use federal dollars for the project.
The $500,000 was originally earmarked for the city’s owner occupied rehabilitation and reconstruction program, which helps low- to moderate-income homeowners repair their homes, as requested by Neighborhood Housing and Services Department (NHSD). The federal funds HUD rejected, $500,000 from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), a $13 million federal fund used in programs aiding low- to moderate-income residents, will be routed into the city’s home rehab program.
The $1.5 million program to purchase and install air conditioning units at San Antonio Housing Authority (SAHA) properties now has four financial sources:
» $500,000 from the city’s general fund
» $500,000 from SAHA
» $300,000 from the Gordon Hartman Family Foundation, a local nonprofit that funds organizations servicing Bexar County residents with cognitive and physical disabilities
» $200,000 from the San Antonio Housing Trust
SAHA began installing the air conditioning units earlier this month.
The housing authority estimates all installations, approximately 2,500 across 20 public housing complexes, will be finished by the end of June, according to the council’s meeting agenda.
So far, 408 air conditioning units across nine complexes have been installed, according to Michael Reyes, SAHA’s director of communications and public affairs.
Recently, HUD rejected the city’s request to use CDBG funding for the project because the window air conditioning units SAHA are installing are not “permanent upgrades,” the San Antonio Express News reported recently.
[ Read more from the Express-News: "Thousands of San Antonio public housing units lack air conditioning” ]
In February, state Rep. Diego Bernal, D-San Antonio, informed the city and SAHA of the lack of air conditioning in some public housing properties after a local resident, who lives in a SAHA property, said her complex didn’t have air conditioning.
“The idea we have (residents) living in concrete boxes, with summers that have over 30 days of 100 degree heat, strikes me as somewhat behind the times,” Bernal told the city’s comprehensive plan committee during a meeting on Feb. 20.
“Considering the relatively cheap cost of doing this, to change the everyday life experience of someone, it’s not a high price to pay,” he continued.