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Relocation program? Tenants facing eviction claim no knowledge of Bexar County moving assistance

Bexar County set aside $100,000 to help tenants from a northeast side mobile escape squalor, but some who need the money claim they did not know that.

SAN ANTONIO — Dominick Barreras complaints about the Jasper Mobile Home Park are deep, layered, and on-going. He’s lived there for five years.

He said if he had the resources he’d move.

“This is ridiculous,” Barreras said.

According to Bexar County officials, Barreras is one of 14 households at the mobile home park who received an eviction notice from the property manager. County records show the soon-to-be former trailer park had more code infractions than residents.

“We found a slumlord,” Commissioner Tommy Calvert said. “One of the worst properties in my entire precinct  in terms of the condition.”

Calvert’s Precinct 4 said the 6725 Walzem Rd property failed a County Fire Marshal’s Office visit. On May 27, 53 ordinance violations were assessed to the owner. If the owner did bring the housing back to compliance and livable conditions in 45 days Class B misdemeanor charges would be lodged.

Bexar County Deputies said they found an individual sleeping in an abandoned mobile home with a pistol which had a 30 round magazine inside.  Investigators said the man had an active family violence warrant and the weapon in question had the serial numbers scraped off.

Deputies also found a tractor at the mobile home’s office with fake VIN numbers on it. It remains under a theft investigation.

Calvert’s office also revealed the property’s owner, Robert ‘Bob’ Ripley, was arrested for diverting multiple lines of water which incurred thousands of dollars towards the San Antonio Water System.

Twice before in the same month, May 15 and May 19, the property racked up 50 violations including vacant structures considered fire and life safety hazards.

But among the distress and dilemma were tenants who needed a place to stay. The inability to overcome the code violations and economic crush of the coronavirus left tenants with few options.

Bexar County set aside $100,000 in COVID-19 funding for a Relocation Assistance Program for anyone who lives outside of San Antonio. The money is to help those impacted by the coronavirus regain housing.

Jasper Mobile Park tenants were eyed as a key benefactor.

“We want to make sure we’re meeting the residents where they’re at and meeting their needs,” Deborah Carter said.

Carter is the county’s Economic Director. So far, the county has spent $7,000 to help families who need relocation assistance. $93,000 is still available for use. The St. Vincent de Paul Society was selected as the local steward to disseminating the funds.

Executive Director Valerie Finley from the Archdiocesan Council of San Antonio deferred comment about their role to Bexar County.

Meantime, Barreras was not familiar with the program even though some of his neighbors have used it. He also pointed out a Spanish-speaking family with a young child very likely lacked knowledge of the program too.

“I know there are programs like that—that exist,” Barreras said. “But I haven’t heard directly about the program.”

Calvert isn’t sure how that can be, but intends to find out.

”I’m investigation now to find out what was the means of outreach,” Calvert said. “But what I have is a report that five have been moved into stable housing, seven are in transition and, then, I think three were unresponsive.”

An obstacle for some to qualify for the program is having the lease in their name. Barreras faces that issue.

“Now they trying  to say that I’m a squatter, and y'all aren't on the lease,” he said. “I was like, when was the lease signed?”

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