SAN ANTONIO – The amount of people in the Alamo City living in poverty has remained relatively the same for the past three years, even with a slight decrease last year.
“San Antonio has historically struggled with generational poverty. It's something that we don’t talk enough about,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said.
More than 17 percent of San Antonians live below the poverty level, compared to 13 percent in Austin, according to a 2017 report from the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2016, 18.5 percent of San Antonians were impoverished compared 17.8 percent in 2015.
Nirenberg said that, over the past decade, housing prices in the city have increased by about 5 percent per year, but incomes only increased by about 2 percent annually, which means that, for many, it's getting harder to keep up with the cost of living.
“We’ve always been on food stamps, Medicaid and everything,” said Christopher Vallejo, an 18-year-old high school senior who often relies on the Guadalupe Community Center to ensure he doesn't go hungry.
“They give food every day at a certain time, and it’s helpful,” Vallejo said.
The nonprofit organization, which is operated by Catholic Charities, is also feeling the strain. Empty shelves in the center’s food pantry shows demand exceeds supply.
“They need a lot of support in getting food, clothing, school supplies and things like that, everyday things that people depend on,” said Victoria Sanchez, program coordinator for the Guadalupe Community Center.
Nirenberg said there's a need to ensure housing for all those who live in San Antonio. He referenced a 10-year plan to ensure affordable housing gets adopted into the city budget.
“We're working strategically to break through those barriers to help people become more economically mobile," Nirenberg said.
Being economically mobile is a dream for Vallejo, who hopes to one day work for the San Antonio Police Department.
“My first choice was to go ... straight to college with a scholarship and do the four years for (a) bachelors and join the academy for police,” Vallejo said.
If you’d like to donate to the Guadalupe Community Center, you can find out more by clicking here.