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Bexar County will contribute $1 million over the next five years to support the City of San Antonio’s program to replace failing roofs for low-income residents if funding is approved by the Commissioners Court, county Judge Nelson Wolff said Tuesday.
“The easiest thing for you to do [to strengthen a home structurally] is the roof,” Wolff said, adding that he’ll be working with commissioners on where exactly the money will come from in the County’s budget. “That’s the best program.”
Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1), who is running for re-election in the May 4 city elections, announced the County’s investment during the annual State of the Center City address on Tuesday. Treviño started the Under 1 Roof program as a small pilot in his district four years ago with a $200,000 budget, and it has expanded citywide. If the proposed City and County funding is approved for the fiscal year 2020 budgets, the program will receive a total of $5.45 million from public and private sources.
More than 400 roofs will be replaced this year for low-income homeowners in all 10 City Council districts, according to City estimates. With the funding from Bexar County, Wolff said, the program will be able to reach residents outside city limits.
The program’s increased funding was one of several notes of progress in the urban core that Treviño cited in his speech, delivered during a luncheon hosted by downtown advocacy nonprofit Centro San Antonio. The half-dozen construction cranes that can be seen on the downtown skyline are often cited as evidence that San Antonio’s so-called “Decade of Downtown” has been a success.
“It takes vision of leadership to understand how these investments downtown will pay dividends to us all over time,” said Treviño, who is seeking his third City Council term. “The state of the center city is thriving, it’s flourishing, and it’s second to none.”
But that growth comes with challenges, and the neighborhoods surrounding downtown have felt negative impacts in terms of rising property tax bills and denser residential development. Concerns of gentrification and preservation emanate from the city’s core that has received multimillion-dollar public and private investment. That tension among residents, the City, and developers was perhaps best illustrated by the formulation of new development incentives that now focus on affordability of housing stock. That program, originally developed in 2012, was criticized for giving incentives for luxury apartments.
“It was a difficult conversation, but I think we got where we needed to be,” said Centro San Antonio board chair Trish DeBerry. “Some say downtown has had enough [investment]. … I would tell you they haven’t had near enough.”
Councilman Greg Brockhouse (D6), who is running for mayor, has criticized the City for focusing too much on downtown and not enough on other parts of the city.
But a thriving downtown, Treviño said, is “part of everyone’s neighborhood” and supports thousands of residents by providing job opportunities, culture, entertainment, and education. Click here to download a copy of his prepared remarks.
Since being elected in 2015, Treviño has led efforts to form the City’s first sidewalk master plan, downtown lighting plan, and short-term rental regulations and played a key role in the Alamo Master Plan.
However, the councilman has his detractors, most notably challenger Justin Holley, a local hotelier who has gained significant community and business support. He has criticized Treviño for making decisions that negatively impact business and tourism interests, namely Treviño’s support for a paid sick-leave ordinance, passing on San Antonio hosting the Republican National Convention, and the removal of Chick-fil-A from an airport contract because of the restaurant chain’s anti-LGBTQIA reputation.
Treviño has been able to balance the needs of residents that live in and around downtown with those of the commercial and business interests, said DeBerry, a prominent local marketing executive. “That’s a difficult balance that he has to strike and he does it beautifully.”
The event hosted several video testimonials of downtown residents declaring their love for life downtown – but none was applauded as much as San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich.
“I love the whole area. It’s great to be here,” Popovich said. “We still kept our culture. Although the growth and development ballooned, we’re still San Antonio. That’s what makes us all so special here and hopefully we can continue that with more private and public investment.”