The City of San Antonio’s Covid-19 emergency housing assistance program has served 20,317 households since the program launched in late April, according to the city’s online dashboard. The program helps renters and homeowners, whose employment has been impacted by the coronavirus, stay housed, and has doled out an average of $2,808 in aid per household, of which more than 85% are renters, according to the city.
» To apply for the City of San Antonio’s emergency housing assistance and right to counsel programs, click here.
» Call the St. Mary’s University hotline at 210-570-6135 if you need legal advice.
» Browse the city’s other Covid-19 relief options
Earlier this week, a City Council committee approved a measure that will allow more San Antonio college students to benefit from the program. Students whose parents either signed or co-signed a lease will now be eligible to receive rental assistance. Previously, these students were not eligible because they weren’t the sole signers of the lease. Eligible students would be those who rent apartments in the private sector, rather than on-campus housing. Under the program, the landlord is paid directly.
“We want people to stay in their homes, but we also want them to continue in school,” District 1 Councilman Roberto Treviño said during the Culture and Neighborhood Services Committee meeting on Monday.
Assistant City Manager Lori Houston told council members that the student’s family has to qualify, just as any San Antonio family must qualify, by making at or below 80% of the area median income (AMI), which is $57,600 for a family of four in the San Antonio-New Braunfels region. It’s unclear whether the family must meet the AMI threshold in the city they live in, should they live outside San Antonio.
The family also has to prove their income was negatively impacted by the coronavirus.
The majority of recipients make an average of 30% AMI, or an annual income of $21,600 for a family of four in the San Antonio area, according to the city data that spans from April 23 (when City Council approved the program) through Oct. 31.
[ Scroll down for a chart showing AMI levels. ]
If they qualify, households making 50% AMI or less receive full benefits the first two months, which includes rental or mortgage assistance; utility and internet bills paid; and a cash grant up to $300. The third month, the household would get a $500 grant.
So far, San Antonio has disbursed $55.2 million in cost of living assistance.
» $45.6M — rent or mortgage
» $3.9M — CPS Energy
» $600K — SAWS
» $200K — internet bill
» $4.9M — cash assistance
Residents making between 51% and 80% AMI would receive rental or mortgage assistance only during the first two months, then $250 the third month.
Treviño, who’s taken the lead in augmenting the program’s coffers throughout the year, wants the income eligibility requirement to be raised to 100% AMI, which was the eligibility threshold until the council scaled it back recently.
During the council meeting on Monday, Vero Soto, director of the city’s Neighborhood and Housing Services Department, said her the city recommends keeping the income requirement at 80% AMI or below, and cited what she described as a low number of people served between the 81% to 100% AMI range—or 694 families since the program started in late April.
Treviño, referencing the same figure, said families in those income ranges shouldn’t be left out of the program going forward.
District 3 Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran wanted more information on where college students in need of assistance are living in San Antonio. She’s concerned about opening up the program to more college students, who may be from elsewhere, while San Antonio families still need assistance.
“We’re trying to assist as many families here in San Antonio as possible,” Viagran said. “Now we’re going to open it up to college students whose name is not on the lease, but their parents are—but their parents don’t necessarily live in San Antonio.”
To date, $76.7 million has been allocated for the program, and there’s another $19.8 million remaining. The city estimates the funding to last through mid-February.
The City of San Antonio also received $600,000 from the Texas Eviction Diversion Program, a statewide rental assistance program, which was created by Gov. Greg Abbott in late September.
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