Committee proposes using California company to help SA's homeless population issues

SAN ANTONIO – A California company could be hired by the city of San Antonio to help tackle the homeless issue in the area. 

The Department of Human Services presented a contract proposal to City Council, asking that the Center for Common Concerns/Homebase be allowed to conduct a plan to identify a short-term and long-term sustainability strategy to address homelessness.

The $128,898 contract will be paid with extra funds allocated in the general fund in this year’s budget.

Phase I of the plan would include gathering feedback from stakeholders and finding alternatives. Phase II would assess the current homeless services offered, identify gaps in those services and work with stakeholders to address the gaps.

The goal is to have the company formally hired so that a plan can be presented to City Council by next spring.

Homebase was one of six companies that answered the city’s request for proposal.

District 10 Councilman Clayton Perry had concerns because the company was from California.

“They have issues big, big issues over there, and how can they help us solve ours here when they have bigger problems over there?” he said. 

He said the homeless issue has impacted every district in San Antonio.

Marci Mendoza, who lives in the Colonies House community near Wurzbach and I-10, said neighbors are concerned about the drugs, crime and other homeless issues creeping closer to Colonies North Elementary School.

“We obviously want to be more family centered. You see (homeless people) up the street off of Colony Drive and on our side — coming, going, sleeping under or, like, in the car wash areas and anywhere that they can find covering," she said.

Mendoza's neighborhood is hosting a meeting with District 8 leaders at Colonies House at 7 p.m. on Oct. 16 at 3511 Colony Drive.

“Right now more individuals are recognizing that it is an issue and it is affecting the community. So hopefully, more change will happen,” Mendoza said.

Gov. Greg Abbot also chimed in on the homeless problems spreading across Texas. He sent a Twitter message to the Austin mayor threatening to send state authorities to clean up the problem. A new ordinance in that city allows homeless people to sit, lie and camp in public places as long as they are not threatening to the public. 

In the spring, the Bexar County District Attorney changed its policy on how it would handle criminal trespassing cases when it comes to people who are homeless. The DA would not prosecute people who are only arrested for criminal trespassing in a nonresidential place, who have no violent history or history of being on probation and face no other charges.

Since Aug. 21, 67 criminal trespass cases have been filed by the DA’s office, and 31 other cases were dismissed under the new policy guidelines.

City Council asked for more time to review the proposal with Homebase, so it can take it up for a vote Oct. 17.

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