Federal COVID-19 grant can help recipients pay past due mortgage, taxes & utilities

SAN ANTONIO – Many people in Bexar County are still living with the financial consequences of COVID-19 on top of any lingering physical effects.

As of last year, a federal COVID grant has been helping people through some tough times.

“This can give people that are suffering from either a decrease in revenues or an increase in expenses — it will give them up to $25,000 in property tax assistance, up to $65,000 in mortgage assistance, and up to $10,000 in utility assistance,” said Albert Uresti, Bexar County Tax Assessor-Collector.

Uresti said applicants must have been impacted by COVID-19 as of January 21, 2020, to qualify for the grant. He said these federal grants don’t require repayment.

Uresti said his office is the only tax assessor-collector to administer the program, perhaps because of the work involved.

“Just because it’s a lot of work doesn’t matter. It’s important that we take care of our citizens,” Uresti said.

He said that’s why the nearly $55 million Housing Assistance Fund has been renamed locally as “Operation Home Rescue: Tax Assessor Style.”

Dora Veale said she’d seen the sign each time she came to drop off the payment on her property tax.

Veale told herself, “No, they’re not going to help me.”

That is until Veale said she realized it was worth a try, given she and her entire family on a limited income had come down with COVID at one time.

Veale said the best part was that the staff helped her through the entire process, even filing her application online as required.

“Couldn’t have done it by myself because I don’t know how to even turn a computer on,” Veale said, laughing.

Uresti said because there are so many others like Veale, his staff takes the time to take the applicants through the process, step-by-step, even uploading documents.

“You just have to turn in the paperwork that they need, and that’s it,” Veale said.

She said the grants paid off the $3,000 she owed on her mortgage payment and her nearly $1,000 utility bill.

“Thanks to God, they helped me, and I’m so grateful,” Veale said.

Uresti said the program has helped more than 5,400 people since last year and will continue until the money runs out.

“There’s still a lot of money left,” Uresti said.

He said he urges anyone delinquent on their mortgage, utility bills or property taxes because of COVID-19 to apply for the grant.

“Please come in. We’d be glad to help. We enjoy helping people,” Uresti said.

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