San Antonio City Council voted March 9 to approve $6.31 million in federal COVID-19 relief money to help boost local organizations that provide mental health care, youth and senior citizen services.

The money comes from the city’s allocation in American Rescue Plan Act funding, city staff said.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg said ARPA money has helped numerous communities to stabilize their finances and experience levels of social service recovery in the three years since the pandemic fully emerged.

But city officials said public and private agencies and organizations concentrated on social services are still struggling to help meet the needs of people who have been adversely affected by the pandemic, be it through job, food or housing insecurity or mental health or substance use challenges.

“The worst of the health impacts may be over, but don’t let anybody convince you that the long tail of COVID still remains,” Nirenberg said.

According to local officials, the city set aside $4.63 million for mental health care programs, $647,916 for youth-focused programs, $500,00 for senior citizen programs, and $500,000 for other nonprofit social services that mainly affect area youths and older adults.

City officials said the money for mental health care will help select organizations and agencies aiding youth aging out of foster care and at-risk youngsters with access to such services as housing and employment.

The $4.63 million allocation also includes funds for groups helping to respond to family violence service calls as well as organizations and agencies assisting people coping with substance use.

The remaining ARPA monies approved by the council March 9 are designed to help youth and older adults who were directly affected—financially or otherwise—by the pandemic.

Local officials said the next step involves the city releasing a request for proposals March 13 to local eligible agencies and organizations. Responses are due April 27, and the city will evaluate and score respondents May 5-10.

Officials said the council will award specific amounts of the ARPA funds to select agencies and organizations June 1.