CONTACT: Ashley Alvarez, 210-207-2098
Carlos Valenzuela, 210-207-3919
SAN ANTONIO (Oct. 8, 2020) – Two City of San Antonio initiatives were recently honored by the American Planning Association-Texas Chapter (APATX) as exemplary work and outstanding contributions to planning in Texas. The COVID-19 Emergency Housing Assistance Program, Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP) were evaluated and selected based on originality and innovation, engagement, implementation and effectiveness, quality, and promotion of planning. Additionally, the Center for Digital Government recognized the City’s COVID-19 resident portal for its innovation, use-friendliness and best practices.
“This is a proud moment for the City of San Antonio and the residents we serve,” said City Manager Erik Walsh. “The COVID-19 Emergency Housing Assistance Program, Climate Action and Adaptation Plan and our COVID-19 website are innovative, effective solutions to solve problems San Antonio is facing and help us build a more resilient community. The recognition is well-deserved by the public servants who continue to do exceptional work for our community.”
The City’s COVID-19 Emergency Housing Assistance Program (EHAP) is a recipient of the 2020 Advancing Diversity and Social Change Planning Award. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Neighborhood and Housing Services Department (NHSD) led the creation and implementation of the EHAP in April 2020. The goal of this program is to provide emergency funding to San Antonio’s most vulnerable residents and provides qualified residents funds for rent or mortgage, utilities (including internet) and direct cash assistance. EHAP is a $76.6 million program that has served over 17,000 qualified San Antonians. Funding is still available to serve the need in the community as the effects of the pandemic continue to impact residents.
Citywide program outreach with a special focus in neighborhoods with high concentrations of people of color and people with low incomes was crucial at program launch. Block walkers provided program information to residents who may not have access to internet or television. Immigrants’ rights groups and grassroots organizations were engaged to help spread information further. In addition to the online application, NHSD offered in-person intake sites across San Antonio to make the program easier to access.
“This award is a credit to the pro-active planning by the NHSD team and our partners all of whom worked tirelessly to address the pressing housing needs of those disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said NHSD Director Verónica R. Soto.
The SA Climate Ready Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP) is a recipient of the 2020 Resilience Achievement Award – Gold, which recognizes a strategy that increases the ability of a community to recover from and adapt to things such as natural disasters, human-caused disasters and climate change, resulting in the community becoming stronger and better prepared than ever before.
In Oct. 2019, San Antonio adopted its first CAAP with a goal of carbon neutrality by 2050 to prepare the community for present and future challenges related to the changing climate. The plan prioritizes clean air, public health, water quality and conservation, good jobs, transportation choices, clean and secure energy, and emergency preparedness. Led by the Office of Sustainability, the plan is being implemented with the guidance and oversight of community-based committees, internal and external stakeholders. Throughout the planning process, more than 11,000 residents attended 368 events and a total of 6,557 surveys were completed. The City also worked with CPS Energy to develop the plan.
With San Antonio facing increased extreme heat, flooding, wildfires and vector-borne illness, the CAAP builds upon a Vulnerability and Risk Assessment to identify twelve high and medium risk focal areas and 45 prioritized adaptation strategies to increase infrastructure resilience; strengthen public health systems; enhance emergency management and community preparedness; promote, restore and protect green infrastructure and ecosystems; protect local food security, increase resiliency awareness and outreach; and ensure equity in adaptation.
“This award acknowledges the work of the thousands of residents and stakeholders in our collective commitment to a healthy and equitable future,” said Chief Sustainability Officer Doug Melnick. “Building on a legacy of renewable energy and energy and resource conservation, our path forward will continue to leverage collaborative partnerships, technology and innovation to strengthen resiliency.”
The Center for Digital Government also announced winners of its fourth annual Government Experience Awards, honoring U.S. governments who are leveraging innovative IT to enhance services and citizen experience during the pandemic.
The City of San Antonio’s Office of Innovation and Information Technology Services Department was recognized for its quick delivery of an accessible COVID-19 portal to help residents easily locate information, services and data needed during the pandemic.
“I’m very proud of the entire City team for their dedication to duty and passionate commitment to get this resident-friendly portal designed and live for our community in a very short time,” said Chief Information Officer Craig Hopkins. “At a time of uncertainty and turmoil, we wanted residents to know we had their backs and were doing everything we could to help them get access to the information and services they needed to make their lives better.”