Bexar County and San Antonio residents who earn less than $80,000 per year and are behind on either mortgage or property tax payments due to the pandemic may qualify for assistance through a new federal grant program.

The Texas Homeowner Assistance Fund Program, with $842 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, will pay up to $25,000 for property taxes and $40,000 for mortgages and other fees to qualifying residents.

Applicants must own and occupy their home, be behind on mortgage or property tax payments, have experienced a financial hardship (lost income or increased expenses) related to the pandemic and earn 100% or less of the area median income (AMI) or the national AMI — whichever is higher — to qualify.

That means an individual up to a family of four earning $79,900 per year qualifies, according to the calculation determined by the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. The income level increases for larger families; $80,050 for a family of five, $86,000 for a family of six.

Though some money is available for households earning 150% AMI, the bulk of the federal funding is directed to those earning 100% of AMI and earmarked for mortgages. More than $80 million is aimed at property tax relief. Payments are sent directly to the mortgage servicer or tax authority once the homeowner’s application is approved.

The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs launched the program statewide in early March and staff at the Bexar County Tax Assessor-Collector’s office have been assisting residents to apply for the funds for about two weeks, said Tax Assessor-Collector Albert Uresti.

The office has helped over 200 people apply and has sent out 15,000 letters to residents who may qualify for the grant, Uresti told Bexar County Commissioners during a briefing on the program Tuesday.

“These grants are not loans — they don’t have to be paid back,” he said. 

The Tax Assessor-Collector’s Office is essentially operating as an intake center for the state’s program, but it doesn’t have an official contract with the state, which could provide the office with additional funding for staff and outreach. Uresti said the program was too important to wait.

“Our mission at the tax office is to help keep families in their homes with an emphasis on helping our senior citizens, our disabled, our veterans and ultimately our children,” he said. “This [fits] right into what we’re trying to do.”

Visit the program website or call 1-833-651-3874 for more information.

Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at iris@sareport.org