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Commissioners receive update on ERA program
The county-implemented Emergency Rental Assistance Program was created to assist those that need help with their rent and utility bills after the impact of COVID-19. Recently, the rental process has been sped up thanks to the Community Assistance Program.
During Tuesday’s Hays County Commissioners Court meeting, ERA Program Manager Wesley Matthews presented the court with the processes that applicants go through to receive assistance from the program.
“This is a program to get all of the communities to work together, to meet people exactly where they’re at and to just empower the agencies to say that ‘We have the funds,’” Matthews said.
Matthews spoke about the guidelines implemented by the U.S. Treasury that change frequently and the program’s attempts to keep up with them. Matthews also talked about the 90-day rapid rehousing program that individuals can qualify for to further receive assistance.
“In that, the agencies certifying that they’re going to help the person apply for housing, rehouse, obtain a voucher, they’re going to help them obtain ID, they’re going to help them with employment,” Matthews said.
Clients will receive verification every 30 days through the agencies such as the HOME Center and Together for A Cause through a survey to track their progress over time.
“The whole idea is to make progress,” Matthews said. “Working together as an agency we can accomplish a lot in a short amount of time.”
The goal now is to ensure funding to the hotels being used as resources for the clients. Matthews has plans to present a proposal to the City of San Marcos to help with that funding.
“Anyone that enters our program if they’re qualified, the ERA can cover them back from the day they entered it, if the person doesn’t qualify for our program, we’re partnering in asking the city to pick up that cost,” Matthews said.
If agencies helping the clients sign an individual up that doesn’t qualify for the program or doesn’t go through proper screening, the agency would be responsible for providing the funding for the hotel.
Regarding guidance from the U.S. Treasury, the ERA program was seeking to keep up with the changing guidelines.
The court ultimately approved the motion to authorize the county auditor's office to adopt best practices for the ERA program pursuant to the United States Treasury guidelines as they are updated and published.
In other business, the commissioners went on to approve the grant for Hays County HazMat Monitor Maintenance in the amount of $10,000 to provide annual maintenance of the HazMat Team monitors. The court also approved the $5,479.58 grant to provide financial assistance in the purchase of bulletproof vests for the county law enforcement officers.
The three grants from the Office of the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division with a combined total of $137,859.72 were approved with $39,505.49 going towards the Victim Assistance program for the Hays County Victim Assistance Coordinator. The Family Justice Center will receive $40,979.92 and the Hays County Mental Health Crisis Intervention will receive $57,374.31.
Nonprofit organization Nosotros La Gente was recognized by the court for celebrating its 25th anniversary. Nosotros La Gente has provided assistance with medical needs to citizens of the community.
The organization created the “Viva Zapatos” shoe distribution 25 years ago to provide a free pair of shoes to needy children from San Marcos Consolidated ISD.
“It’s really a blessing to be a part of seeing such a great group of people work so hard,” Commissioner Debbie Gonzales Ingalsbe said.
To watch the meeting in full, visit https://hayscountytx.com/commissioners-court/court-video/.