San Benito offers COVID-19 aid to hard-hit residents

City, EDC set aside money as part of local programs

Downtown San Benito.

SAN BENITO — The city is setting aside federal money to help residents strained during the coronavirus pandemic.

As part of the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES, the city’s federal Community Development Block Grant program is offering $403,000 to help hard-hit residents pay their bills.

“These funds are available only for individuals and families that live inside the San Benito city limits and have experienced financial hardship specifically related to COVID,” city spokesman David Favila stated.

The program is earmarking the money to help low-income residents.

“The CDBG-CV funds will be used to assist qualifying residents pay their utility bills and rent or mortgage payments,” Favila stated.

To qualify for the program, residents’ household incomes must fall below 80 percent of U.S. Housing and Urban Development income limits, he stated.

The city will accept applications, available on its website, on Nov. 2.

The program requires residents hand-deliver applications to the San Benito Municipal Building, 401 N. Sam Houston Blvd.

City offering help

At City Hall, officials are offering a total of $180,000 in CARES funding to help residents impacted by the pandemic pay their rent, mortgage and utilities.

Under the SBCARES program, qualifying residents can receive up to $500 to make utility payments including water, sewer and trash pick-up bills for up to a three-month period.

Meanwhile, homeowners and renters can receive up to $1,000 for as long as three months to pay their mortgages and rent.

To qualify for the program aimed at covering overdue accounts during the period of March 1 to Dec. 30, 2020, city residents’ household incomes must fall below 120 percent of the area’s median income while they “must demonstrate a financial hardship due to loss of income from employment due to COVID-19 and provide documentation that renders the household unable to pay rent, mortgage or utilities,” city officials stated.

To qualify for mortgage and rent assistance, residents must “be the primary lease or mortgage holder in a single-family home in the city limits” and “may only apply for rent, mortgage or utility assistance related to one primary property,” officials stated.

The program is not open to residents receiving federal housing subsidies or living in federally subsidized housing or housing paid through federally insured mortgages.

Applications available on the city’s website will be accepted through Jan. 29, 2021.

EDC’s help aimed at businesses

Meanwhile, the city’s Economic Development Corporation is offering a total of $100,000 to help businesses impacted by the pandemic.

Under the COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Loan Program, the EDC is offering qualifying businesses zero-interest loans of up to $10,000, deferring payment for 12 months while allowing three years to pay back the money.

So far, 10 businesses have applied for loans as part of the program whose application period ends Dec. 31 or at the time funds are depleted, Executive Director Rebeca Castillo said.