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New rental, utility assistance program approved

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Hays County Commissioners Court voted unanimously to approve the use of American Rescue Plan Act Funding for a Rental/ Utility Assistance Program for Hays County residents at their regularly scheduled meeting last week. The program will be run through the Blanco River Regional Recovery Team.

Hays County Budget Officer Vicky Dorsett said the contract is for $980,000 with $20,000 for the part-time position at the auditor’s office.

Hays County Commissioner Precinct 1 Debbie Inglasbe said she also wanted to thank Hays County Commissioner Precinct 2 Michelle Cohen and Hays County Commissioner Precinct 3 Lon Shell for financially supporting the Rental/ Utility Assistance Program alongside her. She said the Blanco River Regional Recovery team has worked with the county in the past and is currently working with the city of San Marcos on a similar program.

“This is a countywide issue, and I appreciate their participation,” Ingalsbe said. “We still have a large number of families and individuals who are struggling with housing instabilities. And for me, I think the intent is to provide financial support in order to prevent homelessness.”

Cohen said it isn’t easy to navigate resources like this in Hays County.

“I definitely look forward to seeing how many families we can help and just seeing the results of that work,” Cohen said.

Hays County Commissioner Precinct-4 Walt Smith said he wasn’t interested in contributing at first due to the outcome of the previous program of this type, but he said he was willing to match the contributions by putting in $25,000.

He said the previous program had very little outreach to the community in his precinct, and he wanted to ensure that more outreach would occur this time around “I don’t disagree that there’s a need,” Smith said. “The functionality of the program is what is important to me.”

Sr. Project Manager at Ardurra Eric Boehning said that he has been managing the American Rescue Plan Act Funds for Hays County. According to the ARPA website, the emergency fund, which was created due to the COVID-19 pandemic to help stabilize communities, has deadlines upcoming next year.

All funds must be obligated to a cause, including newly eligible activities, by Dec. 31, 2024, and the counties must expend the funds obligated by Dec. 31, 2026.

“I just want to note that this will probably be the final project necessary of this type of presentation,” Boehning said. “I just wanted to thank the court. It’s been a pleasure to work with you all. Whether it be county-wide, individual precincts or the checks and balances that are in place. … It’s just been a pleasure to see how y’all have taken the efforts and the process and procedures to really use this money effectively and efficiently for your communities.”

Ingalsbe thanked Boehning for his service to the community.

“For me he has been a wealth of knowledge,” Inglasbe said. “[He] has just done a great job for Hays County.”

Smith said that Ardurra contributed greatly to ensuring that everything was done properly in regard to the ARPA fund delegation.

“I don’t know if you’re aware, but the Department of Justice has about a half a billion dollars for enforcement that has been dedicated to looking at those ARPA funds and how they were spent and doing audits of it,” Smith said. “Just the sheer paperwork and the background documentation that Ardurra was able to produce for each and every one of our chosen expenditures under ARPA, I think will save us a whole lot more money than it will ever cost.”

To learn more about the Rental/Utility Assistance program in San Marcos to get a better idea of what the program would look like for the county go to sanmarcostx. gov/4026/36431/Cityof- San-Marcos-Provides-Rent-and-Uti?activeLiveTab= widgets.

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666