OCTOBER 9, 2020 — Policymakers predicted in September an impending tsunami of evictions and foreclosures on our most vulnerable communities related to the secondary effects of COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an agency order to halt residential evictions to prevent the further spread of the virus. On the surface the move to institute a moratorium on evictions of renters and homeowners from residential properties appears to give vulnerable populations a respite from the ravages of the pandemic, but any temporary relief will likely have a boomerang effect on families that were suffering in silence long before the coronavirus made its way to San Antonio.
Three years ago the Mexican American Unity Council opened the doors to its Community Housing Center to serve as a laboratory for addressing housing-related needs. The central idea was to identify new strategies for keeping vulnerable families in their homes.
Unfortunately, the refrain from low-income residents is too familiar; their ability to preserve their family home is increasingly at risk. Many cannot keep pace with the precipitous increases in property taxes. Others cannot perform needed maintenance and repairs because reputable contractors are scarce or too expensive. Sadly, even when assistance is available to help homeowners to make needed repairs, many do not qualify for necessary city-sponsored initiatives because they lack clear legal title to their home.
To make matters worse, as reported by the UTSA Policy Studies Center, home flippers are all too eager to capitalize on the arbitrage opportunities in the inner city, profiting 35% to 118% in less than six months. The CDC’s order makes it clear, “nothing in this order precludes the charging or collecting of fees, penalties or interest as a result of the failure to pay,” which means that residents who cannot pay can add one more reason to walk away from their homes and straight into the arms of home flippers.
Policymakers are temporarily mitigating the secondary effects of the pandemic, but there is no commitment to implement strategies that aim to solve the long-term consequences of bad housing policies. What is required is a concerted effort to address the issues that place vulnerable communities at risk.
Long before COVID-19 arrived in San Antonio, vulnerable residents needed property tax relief, wanted affordable home repair assistance, and wanted help to clear or keep a clean title to their family home.
With financial assistance from District 5 Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales, the UTSA Westside Community Partnerships initiative has partnered with MAUC to provide relief to 53 families that needed help to keep or clean title to their homes since the outbreak of the pandemic. We worked with the city’s Neighborhood & Housing Services Department to help close the contractor shortage by creating an online course for unlicensed contractors. UTSA students block-walked the West Side to help homeowners learn about and apply for all of the property tax exemptions to which they are legally entitled. The students also informed them of the dangers of predatory buyers. However, these measures only mitigate the crushing loss of affordable housing.
Long-term solutions are urgently needed. Research demonstrates that the relationship between stable, safe and affordable housing and positive health outcomes is undeniable.
Policymakers should offer comprehensive solutions to assist communities that are at risk of losing their affordable housing stock. If not, they run the risk of exacerbating a once-in-a-lifetime health crisis while permanently altering the sociocultural fabric of San Antonio’s oldest communities.
UTSA Main Campus will serve as a designated polling station during the early voting period, today through October 30, and on Election Day, November 3.H-E-B Student Union Ballroom (HSU 1.104)
The Center for Collegiate Recovery presents a discussion series on Recovery. Join the discussion with Dr. Robb Kelly and learn how to build and sustain recovery from addiction. Be prepared to be challenged, encouraged, and enriched!Virtual Event
The tuba and euphonium students of Prof. Gary Poffenbarger will perform remotely in a live-streamed concert to be transmitted via the Department's Facebook page. The students will perform live, from their homes taking turns logging in when they are up and logging off when they are done so the next performer can log in, etc. until the recital is finished.Virtual Event
Are you interested in learning more about how RowdyLink can assist your Student Organization? Are you a new organization leader and want to learn some basics regarding RowdyLink? Please join us at our RowdyLink Lunch and Learn Series. We will be going over various parts of RowdyLink during each series such as Managing your Roster, Mobile Check-In, Managing and Creating Forms, creating events and more.Virtual Event
Chomp and Chat is a series of conversations held casually during lunch on a specific topic. The topic for Oct 28 is cultural appropriation. We will talk the concept in general, but also as it appears during Halloween and Día de los Muertos.Virtual Event
Join Student Health Services as we discuss Spiritual Wellbeing with Counseling and Mental Health Services.Virtual Event
Join us for a drive-thru event from 9 a.m. to noon on Oct. 29 and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Oct. 30 to give back during this election period. Roadrunners will have the opportunity to give back to the community and get the information needed to make your voice heard for your community. During this experience, you can drive up to make a donation to the Roadrunner Pantry and get all of the voting information you need to early vote this election.Outside Recreation Wellness Center
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
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We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.
UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.
The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.