San Antonio City Council approved a resolution Thursday that supports renter rights and launches an awareness campaign to further educate tenants about local, state and federal housing protections.

This may seem to some as a redundant measure, but to folks who actually rent and have suffered at the hands of neglectful property owners, it’s an official declaration of support for them by their city leaders,” said Councilwoman Adriana Rocha Garcia (D4), who expedited the resolution earlier this year.

The resolution outlines local laws, those in the state constitution and federal laws that aim to protect tenants, including the right to demand home maintenance that impacts health and safety, advance notice requirements, the right to file suit against landlords who don’t make repairs and to be free of retaliation after a complaint is made or if residents choose to organize or participate in a tenant organization.

The resolution does not add additional protections for tenants, but it formalizes the council’s commitment to support “the rights of tenants to live in safe, decent, and quality housing’ to live free of retaliation and discrimination, and to exercise their rights under local, state, and federal laws to ensure the health and safety of tenants in the City of San Antonio in furtherance of the goals of the city’s Strategic Housing Implementation Plan.”

About 625,000 renters live in San Antonio and rental units make up about 46% of the city’s housing stock, according to a 2022 Texas Housers report. Almost half of renters here are cost-burdened, meaning they pay more than 30% of their income toward housing.

The city’s 10-year affordable housing plan, approved in 2021, calls for a public awareness campaign on fair housing laws and eviction prevention.

The Neighborhood and Housing Services Department will work with other city departments, city facilities, the San Antonio Apartment Association and fair housing advocates such as Texas Housers and Texas Organizing Project (TOP) to distribute reader-friendly educational materials in English or Spanish to tenants and landlords, said Veronica Gonzalez, assistant director of the housing department.

The city will continue to provide free, monthly know-your-rights trainings in the community, Gonzalez said and “will email thousands of landlords and tenants who have applied for rent or relocation assistance with tenants rights … and resource documents.”

Landlords are not required to share the bill of rights with tenants, but they are required to provide a Notice of Tenants’ Rights document when a notice to vacate is issued to a tenant for non-payment of rent.

The Notice of Tenants’ Rights Ordinance was enacted in 2020 and provides residents facing evictions with an overview of the eviction process and available assistance. Council also approved clarifications to that document, which is available in 10 different languages, on Thursday.

Texas Housers, TOP, My City is My Home and the Coalition for Tenant Justice have been advocating for a local Tenant Bill of Rights for more than a year.

Members of TOP, some of whom were residents of the infamously derelict Seven Oaks Apartments, have pushed for more explicit language in the resolution regarding renters’ rights to organize — such as what kind of activity is protected — and to require landlords to provide tenants with an outline of their rights.

Still, they celebrated the resolution’s passage with raucous cheering and applause.

“I am here today to declare victory,” said Silvia Flores, who lived at Seven Oaks. “We started organizing and the property owner started retaliating against us. And then comes the eviction notice. … While this is the day for celebration. We know our fight doesn’t stop here. San Antonio is still in a housing crisis where tenants can easily be taken advantage of.”

Last summer, and for years before, Seven Oaks residents lived with mold, leaky pipes, swollen ceilings, broken air conditioners, unchecked crime and unresponsive management.

In response, the city established a new proactive apartment inspection program in March that fines landlords who allow unsafe living conditions at their apartment complexes.

Outgoing Councilman Clayton Perry (D10), the lone conservative on the dais, abstained from voting on the resolution.

With NIMBY fight over, YWCA gets public funding

Council unanimously approved more than $2.3 million toward the first phase of YWCA San Antonio’s Live and Learn Campus, which will house about 30 women ages 17 to 25 who are unemployed and not in school, women with young children or who are aging out of foster care.

The nonprofit is still fundraising to complete the renovation of the former St. Andrew’s Convent in the West Side and the construction of a new services and administration building.

“What’s special about this investment, though, is that this campus will not only just provide 30, deeply-affordable housing units,” said Councilwoman Teri Castillo (D5), whose district includes the property. “It’s also going to provide job training and placement educational services, counseling services, health care, childcare and adult education, even financial literacy and home ownership and renter training.”

The project faced significant neighborhood opposition last year as a zoning change was required for the property. It was unanimously approved in March last year.

“There’s nothing more toxic in instances like this than the NIMBY,” Councilman Manny Pelaez (D8), referring to the “not-in-my-backyard” mentality many residents harbor when it comes to affordable housing or homelessness mitigation services.

Pelaez and Mayor Ron Nirenberg praised Castillo for standing up against NIMBYism.

“Each and every one of these developments or projects or policy changes requires that steel in your spine when it comes down to sometimes neighborhood debates,” Nirenberg said. “And last year, Council member Castillo demonstrated that for all of us in recognizing that this was a critically important development — and we were going to face a little bit of heat, perhaps — but it was certainly the right thing to do.”

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Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and mental health. Contact her at