Bexar County, through its Bexar County Strong programs, aims to distribute more than $79 million in COVID-19 federal relief funds to support different parts of the San Antonio area.
Various types of aid remain just as the local virus positivity rate hovers around 5% and local officials continue to promote the availability and importance of such assistance programs.
Meanwhile, a state agency has signed off on the county’s plan to reopen more than 400 closed bars as early as this weekend.
“We know businesses and families are hurting and are doing their best to navigate and overcome economic hardship as a result of COVID-19,” Precinct 2 Commissioner Justin Rodriguez said in a statement.
“The purpose of Bexar County Strong programs is to provide our community financial relief to help them get through this difficult time.”
Small Business Grants: Commissioners Court on Oct. 6 approved a third round of funding that will be administered through the San Antonio Growth on the East Side (SAGE) program.
Applications opened Oct. 9. Bexar County held two application rounds of small and micro business grant funding administered by LiftFund. A total of $11.75 million in grant funding distributed in the first two rounds provided relief to 850 small businesses and helped retain more than 1,836 employees, according to a county news release.
“This program will help small businesses that fell in the gap between the PPP and the other programs that were offered,” SAGE Executive Director Tuesdae Knight said in the release. “The need is there, and I am so proud to be able to provide hope to this city that prides itself on small businesses.”
Arts and Culture Resiliency Program: Commissioners Court on Oct. 6 allocated $750,000 for non-profit arts businesses and groups the suffered interruption from required closures due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Local Community News recently published pieces on how galleries, artists and arts organizations on the North and South sides have gotten creative in adapting to crowd restrictions and other limitations brought on by the pandemic.
Workforce Programs: Any qualified Bexar County resident can still apply for career training or job placement opportunities available in programs developed by Bexar County, Workforce Solutions Alamo, Project Quest, SA Works and other local organizations.
“For those who are currently unemployed due to the pandemic, our Economic Development Department has created this holistic workforce program and I would urge anyone who is out of work to reach out and see if they qualify,” Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said in the release.
Utility Assistance: Bexar County, in cooperation with CPS Energy, offers grant funding from the Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program (CEAP) to help low-income residents and other customers financially affected by COVID-19 with past-due and current electric and gas expenses.
Temporary Rental Assistance Measure (TRAM): Qualified residents whose income has been impacted by the pandemic have until Dec. 7 to apply for rental assistance to cover past due and current rent charges through December.
Relocation Assistance Program (RAP): In partnership with St. Vincent de Paul, qualified Bexar County residents facing homelessness during the outbreak can receive aid with fees related to relocation from a moving company, storage unit rental, utility connections, and temporary living accommodations on a limited basis.
Visit www.bexarcountystrong.org or call 210-335-1777 for more information on the county’s program.
Additionally, Bexar County Commissioners have approved $4 million in relief grants for bars and restaurants, which may apply with the county Oct. 26-Nov. 2. Grant disbursements begin Nov. 30.
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has approved Bexar County’s plan to permit the reopening of 425 bars at 50% capacity. These bars have not yet reopened unlike 3,000 other bars and similar establishments that have reopened in recent weeks with food service permits.
The newly reopening bars must follow a range of requirements, including having employees wear masks at all times, having customers wear masks when not seated, prohibition of large congregations, and ensuring the availability of proper ventilation systems.
Judge Wolff has said if a significant spike in COVID-19 cases occurs, bars could be among the first establishments to face another lockdown.