City gets homeless grant; Money is part of $2.2 trillion CARES Act

The city of Brownsville has been awarded more than $1.9 million in federal funds to prevent, prepare and respond to people at risk of homelessness or who are already experiencing it.

The Emergency Solution Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is part of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act emergency relief package signed March 27. The office of U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville, announced the award Thursday. Hidalgo County will receive $4.2 million under the ESG program.

Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez said the city appreciates support for communities through the CARES Act to offset expenditures related to the pandemic.

“This allocation will go to serve those that need it the most and I look forward to working with Congressman Vela to continue advocating for Brownsville’s needs in adapting to a post-COVID-19 reality,” he said.

Vela said an increased incidence of homelessness as a result of the pandemic and ensuing economic fallout is a problem across the nation, and that homeless people are among the most at-risk groups for becoming infected by the virus, which disproportionately affects the homeless community. He said t he ESG funds will be well spent in Brownsville.

“There’s a pretty good deal of coordination within the city of Brownsville on homelessness efforts,” Vela said. “This money will be put to good use. … I am grateful HUD is providing funds to offer much needed support to South Texans struggling to maintain a roof over their heads during these unprecedented times.”

Meanwhile, the $3 trillion HEROES Act, the next-phase emergency relief package passed by the U.S. House on May 15, has gotten a chilly reception from Senate Republicans and the White House so far, though Vela said he thinks something’s got to give eventually. For example, Senate Republicans are coming around to the idea of extending emergency funding for unemployment benefits to the states, an idea Senate Republicans had earlier flatly rejected.

“I think there’s going to be a breakthrough, maybe three or four weeks,” Vela said.