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2 nonprofit organizations team up curb downtown trash, homelessness

Centro San Antonio, Haven for Hope conduct downtown cleanups

SAN ANTONIO – Staff from Centro San Antonio and Haven for Hope spend every Wednesday morning together under a downtown freeway overpass.

While Centro San Antonio works to clean up trash, Haven for Hope works to engage the homeless population.

"We're removing weeds, loose litter and graffiti in these gateways, these entries and exit points of downtown," said James Richards, Centro San Antonio's director of public improvement district operations.

As a nonprofit organization, Centro San Antonio complements the city's efforts when it comes to keeping downtown clean, among other community services.

The cleanup crew uses a number of tools to help the organization pick up the odds and ends others have left behind at six different locations.

Many of the cleanup locations are also where some of the city's homeless population live. That's where Haven for Hope's outreach manager, Ron Brown, comes in. Brown admits that he had reservations about city cleanups years ago.

"At first, I was all distraught," Brown said. "I was like, 'Oh, man. Where are they going to go? What's going to happen?' But in time and engaging with these people and doing cleanups, it's been a real positive part in getting people to move forward."

"We want to be extremely compassionate to any of the homeless that are out here," Richards said. "We want to leave this environment clean for them as well."

The partnership between Centro San Antonio, Haven for Hope and often the San Antonio Police Department appears to be reaching further than just beautification.

While the KSAT-12 News crew was at a cleanup, Brown came across a homeless man whom he'd been trying to reach for a while. The man agreed to go to detox before entering Haven for Hope’s four-month program.

"From detox, he'll go over to the program and get started with life," Brown said. "That's what it's all about."

Centro San Antonio's programs aim to make downtown an exciting place to live, work, shop, eat and play. The organization has been operating in the community for more than 30 years.