Haven for Hope becomes model for other cities, including Las Vegas

Organization has led to drastic reduction in San Antonio's homeless population

SAN ANTONIO – Ever since Haven for Hope opened in 2010, the number of homeless people in downtown San Antonio has decreased by 80 percent.

For years, the city has been working hand in hand with the organization.

The San Antonio haven has seen so much success that it’s attracting the attention of other cities as well, such as Las Vegas.

Haven for Hope is a place of new beginnings. It offers people in Bexar County a safe place to stay, whether it’s in an outdoor sleeping area called the courtyard or the transformational campus.

The 22-acre campus is like no other, said Kenny Wilson, the CEO of Haven for Hope.

“(Officials from visiting cities) left with the conviction of, ‘San Antonio did something, and we can do something, too,’” Wilson said. "... Other communities find interesting the amount of collaboration that goes on with other nonprofit agencies.”

The group has partnerships with 145 organizations, which offer more than 300 services to clients. Earlier this year, 32 city officials from Las Vegas took a tour of the facility. ​

"We actually have a Corridor (of) Hope and it’s not to the level that Haven for Hope is, so I wanted to go there and check it out,” said Deputy Chief Richard Suey, of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

Suey said the homeless population in Sin City presents some different challenges, and the situation prompted officials to look at a variety of options.

"Down in the Strip, in our downtown area, we have folks hanging out in those areas,” he said. “And (the) problem is, our jail has become housing for the homeless."

Suey said the collaboration effort behind Haven for Hope took him by surprise.

"We are nowhere near close to that,” Suey said. “We are silo’d. The city has their Corridor of Hope, the county has nothing and the police department is stuck in the middle."

With so much progress already made, officials at Haven for Hope can't imagine San Antonio without the facility.

"I think (homeless people) would be on the street, they would be downtown (and) they would be unsafe,” Wilson said. “They would be without fundamental services to take care of themselves.”

Since its opening, Haven for Hope has placed almost 3,700 transformational campus clients into permanent housing.

About the Author:

Tiffany Huertas is known for her in-depth storytelling and her involvement with the community.