Real Estate

HUD rejects plan to bring air conditioning to hundreds of San Antonio renters

City loses out on a $500,000 grant because new units aren't considered permanent

San Antonio’s public housing has a major problem– hundreds of its renters are without air conditioning.

As the countdown to summertime begins to heat up, the San Antonio Housing Authority launched an initiative aiming to bring its renters some relief.

However, the rejection of a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development threatens major momentum in SAHA's plan, according to an article written by Marina Riker for San Antonio Express-News.

From the article:

The federal government has rejected the city’s request to spend $500,000 on air conditioners for public housing, jeopardizing the installation of window units in roughly 800 apartments before sweltering summer temperatures arrive.

The denial represents one-third of $1.5 million earmarked to provide air conditioning in 2,400 apartments managed by the San Antonio Housing Authority. Under the agreement, SAHA pitched in $500,000; another $500,000 came from private donors; and the city pledged the remaining $500,000.

HUD rejected San Antonio’s initial request because the organization refuses to allocate federal grant money to fund non-permanent upgrades. And although the window units are fixed with heavy-duty fastenings they don't technically count as permanent, according to Riker.

From the article:

SAHA oversees 6,137 public-housing units, roughly 40% of which are uncooled unless tenants purchase and install the appliances themselves. Hundreds of those apartments were built in the 1930s and 1940s, decades before air conditioning was widely available.

But even today, HUD doesn’t mandate air conditioning in housing subsidized by federal tax dollars. It doesn’t provide funding for the appliances and generally discourages local housing authorities from installing them, unless electricity costs are paid for by tenants.

Despite these guidelines, SAHA began installing the units in early May. As of now, the organization aims to complete the project by June 30.

But without HUD’s backing, the fate of the city’s renters remains undetermined as the project's completion is contingent on receiving HUD's funding, SAHA spokesman Michael Reyes told the paper.  

“While we are disappointed in HUD’s decision …. we plan on continuing the initiative to provide heat relief for our elderly and disabled residents and families first,” Reyes said.

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