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Commissioners approve ERA program manager

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

The Hays County Commissioners Court awarded a contract to Ardurra Group, Inc. to serve as the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Program manager during Tuesday’s court meeting. 

“There’s a lot of eyes on this and it’s important that we move forward as quickly as we can to bring somebody on board that can assist us,” Precinct 1 Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe said. 

The approval of this item also entails the authorization of staff and General Counsel to negotiate a contract and the authorization of execution of a standard Professional Services Agreement once negotiated and approved.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Walt Smith also shared his experience with reviewing the firm responses. 

“Looking at those proposals, I’m really excited because it appears this firm can hit the ground running in a few days and have a program you know, improve upon the program that we have and offer some assistance that I think is probably needed,” Smith said. 

During the meeting, the court received updates on the program from the Director of Countywide Operations, Tammy Crumley. 

According to Crumley, efficiency overall with the program has increased since January and changes have been implemented to ensure a better payment process within the program. 

“As of yesterday at 5 [p.m.] we had 357 open cases and of those, 185 were pending citizen completion, 139 were under ERA staff review and 33 were under the auditor’s review,” Crumley said. 

She further explained that hiring staff both full and part-time has been challenging due to a lack of applicants and that the program is still working with the nonprofit organizations that assist those in their programs for housing stability. 

Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra also sought clarification on the application process, specifically eviction hearings and how justices of the peace (JPs) are notified that some of the program applicants are in the process of receiving assistance. 

“The applicant is able to provide those JPs with documentation that they have applied or in the process of the program,” Crumley said. 

Hays County Auditor, Marisol Alonzo also expanded on the misconceptions regarding income verification when applying for the program. 

“I think there was a misconception that in the beginning, we had guidelines that were approved by the Treasury, then the treasury made some changes and we made changes as well,” Alonzo said.  “In addition to the income verification, we also have to report to the U.S. Treasury whether we are paying rent in arrears, whether we paying rent in the future, where we’re paying utilities in arrears, our future utilities so, we have to itemize what the rent payments are for, whether they’re arrears or  future and so we do require a ledger which shows us what month is, are you behind on your rent and it is all again because we are required by the U.S. Treasury.”

Alonzo went on to explain that a W-9 tax form is also required in order to provide a tax identification number. The reason for the form is due to the county issuing 1099-G forms for those receiving assistance.

“In order for me to submit those 1099s to the Internal Revenue Service, I do have to have a taxpayer identification number,” Alonzo said. “For landlords who might not have a business tax ID, they use their social security number and that form is their official statement that, ‘this is my tax identification number and obviously they must fill out that form with their signature.” 

Alonzo also talked about the absence of staff in the auditor’s office to review the ERA tickets which is usually done by three to three individuals. 

“We do stay late to work on them, I have dropped off payments at apartment offices and slipped payments under the door,” Alonzo said. “We’ve had staff, our assistant who’s dropped off payments, I’m sorry, checks at the hotels, we’ve met the hotel managers in the parking lot to give them tickets, we’ve called landlords to let them know that tickets are available.”

Alonzo said that while it’s a time-consuming process, the staff is working hard to get things done. 

Assistant County Auditor, Vickie Dorsett also spoke regarding the program guidelines and the guidance given by the U.S. Treasury and how it has changed over time. 

ERA 1 funding could pay 12 months and an additional three months and future rent for stability purposes in three-month increments. Since then, treasury guidance has allowed the payment of arrears for a full 12 months. The attestation of income and rental agreements came later from the treasury. 

Guidelines were then brought to the court in October. When the court approved the housing stability program, the guidance from the treasury was updated and the court gave the auditor’s office and ERA team the ability to update county guidelines based on guidance from the U.S. Treasury. 

To view the complete meeting and agenda, visit 

San Marcos Record

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