San Antonio/ Politics & Govt
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Published on May 21, 2024
San Antonio Councilmember Gavito's Initiative Assists Seniors and Disabled with Code ViolationsSource: City of San Antonio/Marina Alderete Gavito

Slicing through the red tape to help the elderly and disabled, District 7 Councilmember Marina Alderete Gavito's Senior Assistance Pilot Program (SAPP) is bearing fruit. Gavito's initiative, introduced in San Antonio's budget for fiscal year 2024, aims to offer a helping hand to seniors and individuals with disabilities, facing potential citations for property code violations. According to a recent city release, over the past six months, dozens of households have evaded the sting of city fines with the help of SAPP.

“Last year, my team and I identified a serious issue regarding how our city addresses compliance issues within our disabled and senior citizen communities,” Gavito said. “I proposed the Senior Assistance Pilot Program because this is about showing the same type of compassion to our older adults that we learned growing up when we’d assist our neighbors down the street.” Her approach signals a shift from punitive measures to preventative care, ensuring that concerns such as overgrown yards or hazardous trees are dealt with before they spiral into costly legal battles. Thus far, the program has spent, or committed, $69,560 out of its $105,000 budget.

The SAPP's report card shows solid numbers: 37 households have already received assistance, while another 11 await services. The program provides direct assistance for code violations like overgrown vegetation, improper outside placement, and trash, or debris lying around. Property owners in financial hardship on a fixed income who occupy a single-family home are the prime beneficiaries. It's an inclusive initiative where the burden of property maintenance is eased, thereby sparing seniors the additional worry of accruing fines.

Despite its success, the program's funds are not bottomless. Districts 2, 4, and 5 have already used up their allocations, according to the city's report. The average cost of cases approved for assistance hovers at $1,449. The program, which originally had a citywide budget of $15,000, saw Gavito champion an expansion to $100,000, earmarking $10,000 for each council district. What remains is a balance of $35,480 to continue aiding those in need.