How San Antonio is combatting rise in homeless youth

Study shows numbers are up by 28%

SAN ANTONIO – A 2017-18 survey showed a 28 percent increase in homeless unaccompanied minors in San Antonio, which is an issue that local agencies have now decided to make a top priority.

Adam Escalante knows all too well what it’s like to be homeless. His small business took a hit and never recovered. He and his three daughters live in the SAMMinistries shelter. They lost their house and car, but Escalante said the family is surviving.

It’s a much different situation than the last time Escalante was homeless.

“I was 13 years old when I left my house,” he said. “I lived on the streets. I come from that environment.”

Escalante can relate to the growing number of unaccompanied minors choosing the streets over a life involving foster care, abuse, neglect or an unstable financial situation at home.

“The best (thing) we've done so far is being able to accurately count (people) and find them,” said Navarra Williams, the president and CEO of SAMMinistries. “That's one of the reasons the numbers increased.”

SAMMinistries strictly serves families, so oftentimes, unaccompanied minors end up at children’s homes, or Haven For Hope, where the waitlists are long.

“We just don't have the capacity to help them all, but we're getting better at it and working together as different organizations,” Williams said.

The problem isn’t going away any time soon. The census shows more than 18 percent of San Antonians live at or below the poverty level. Those people are consistently at risk of becoming homeless and a lot of them are minors.

Escalante said he has faith in the community and believes people will help him and his family get back on their feet. He wants others to know help is out there.

“If you need help, ask,” Escalante said. “Ain't nobody going to help you if you don't ask.”

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