SAN ANTONIO – As the city of San Antonio continues to grow and move farther out, so does its homeless population.
Haven for Hope, the nonprofit shelter dedicated to getting homeless people back on their feet, is using its outreach program to help serve those who aren't living in the heart of the city. But that outreach program consists of only five people.
One of those people is Ron Brown, whose daily job is help those who aren't so close to the downtown facility; many of homeless people are outside Loop 410 and Loop 1604.
Brown took KSAT12’s Sarah Acosta to one of his weekly stops on Potranco near 1604 to visit his friend, Mike Stephens, who he just helped go through a detox program.
When Stephens began talking to Brown, he broke down in tears and thanked Brown for everything he has done for him.
Stephens lost his footing when he went to prison. Battling addiction forced him into living in a campsite near Potranco Road.
“To be honest, it's on me,” Stephens said. “It is my fault. I probably could've got out of here.”
Brown isn't giving up on Stephens, going back to his campsite several times a week to persuade him to take that first step into the nonprofit's transformational program.
“They have gone beyond. I would've given up on me,” Stephens said.
Brown said the key is to gain the trust of the people he is helping.
“The fear of change is difficult,” Brown said. “That's why I take so long, to tap in, befriend someone and gain their trust.”
Brown believes homeless people go to the area because it's easier for them, with less ordinances, more privacy and it’s easier to panhandle.
“Much easier and pretty lucrative also as far as giving is concerned,” Brown said.
“You go downtown and homeless people throw rocks at you,” Stephens said. “It's crazy down there, man. I couldn't make it down there. If I leave here, I'd be lost.”
That's where Brown comes in, gaining one homeless person's trust at a time. It's why he believes more nonprofits should have outreach programs.
“We need more feet on the ground with individuals who understand the culture,” Brown said.
Brown’s message to the community is patience and love.
“Just be patient with us and give us time. We'll get out there and get something done,” he said.
Stephens said he hopes to be in Haven for Hope's program soon.