Haven for Hope or crime?

Residents living near homeless campus share concerns with city leaders

Author: Tim Gerber , Reporter, tgerber@ksat.com
Published On: Aug 09 2012 10:30:32 PM CDT   Updated On: Aug 09 2012 11:05:48 PM CDT
SAN ANTONIO -

Residents who live near the Haven for Hope campus are hoping a meeting with city leaders Thursday will be the help they need to solve some long standing problems.

The residents say they've seen an increase in crime and other problems since the campus opened.

Mari McBay said she supports the mission of Haven for Hope. She wants the city's homeless to get the help they need. But living across the street from the sprawling campus has it's challenges.

"Haven for Hope is a wonderful thing however, the security is just here." McBay said. "The loitering, the trespassing, the lewd acts they do in public, we have a problem with that."

McBay and dozens of other residents who live in the neighborhoods surrounding Haven are fed up with the problems created by the homeless who are kicked out of the program and end up on their streets.

Many feared this is what would happen and they expressed those fears before the campus was built. After complaining about the increasing crime, they now have the city's attention.

"This is something that we need to move extremely fast on and take immediate action," said District 5 Councilman David Medina.

Medina called the community meeting to hear the resident’s concerns in person. He was joined by the chief of police and representatives from several other city agencies.

Chief McManus told the crowd his officers can keep arresting the vagrants causing trouble but it won't solve the problem. The crimes committed by the homeless are often non-violent in nature and they end up right back on the streets.

"There's got to be a coordinated effort with other city departments as well as the Haven. We're all in this together," McManus said.

Residents were asked to come up with a list of concerns that can be addressed by police, code compliance, animal care services and other agencies. The city will then prioritize them and start tackling each one.

""They may come up with a list of 50 things. We can't tackle all 50 at one time. We might want to take a shot at the top 5," McManus said. "We want people to stay with it and be persistent with it until we can declare we resolved the issues."
McBay was hopeful the new approach will work.
"It's better to work with other agencies as a group, as a community to solve the problem," McBay said. "Let's not just put a band-aid on it. Let's solve it."

For a list of recent stories Tim Gerber has done, click here.