The Hays County Emergency Rental Assistance Program has expanded and added a new program called the Community Assistance Program that partners citizens in need with community-based case managers to help get them back on their feet. The Hays Commissioners Court approved the county auditor's office to adopt best practices in accordance with U.S. Treasury Department guidelines as they are made available at their regular meeting Oct. 19.
"The importance is the ability to work with the ever changing guidelines of the U.S. Treasury because they’re coming out with best practices almost weekly. And from that we’ve created documents that really help people that don’t have traditional rental agreements," ERAP administrator Wesley Matthews said.
In June, the court approved ERAP guidelines, but since then there has been more information released from the U.S. Treasury regarding the appropriate uses of the funds. The move by the commissioners will help streamline the process and help citizens faster.
The CAP is a 90-day rehousing program, Matthews said in his presentation, and came about as over 400 applications were submitted to the four individuals who work in the ERA office, according to Matthews. Members of local organizations such as the Hays County Food Bank and the Homeless Outreach, Mitigation, and Emergency Center will be trained to act as the case managers for those in the CAP.
If approved into the CAP, those in need will be booked a hotel room, where they will have a temporary address that will allow them to apply for government-issued identification, state benefits, jobs and more for 90 days. Additionally, every 30 days the citizen in need and the case worker will be evaluated to ensure adequate progress is being made to get closer to a job, permanent living and more.
"I'm all for helping these individuals and families. I know that's it's been extremely tough these last couple of years. but I think we also need to help them to get out of programs, help them get jobs and sustain their families," Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe said. "We can put as much money into a program, and if they're not receiving the real help they need, then they just continue in a program, and we run out of money."
More information can be found on the county's ERA page.