District 5 Councilwoman Gonzales discusses plans to reduce violence

Better transportation, education, job training top list of priorities

By Deven Clarke - Crime and Justice Reporter, Bill Caldera - Photojournalist

SAN ANTONIO - Better transportation, education and job training are some ways to reduce crime in District 5, City Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales said.

A KSAT 12 News series "Crime and Justice" reported that 16 murders were reported within the 22-mile radius of District 5 in 2018. 

"What we need to alleviate is just the feeling of hopelessness in people," Gonzales said.

Ninety-three percent of families living in District 5 are low income, which Gonzales called a problem that's gone on for generations. 

With poverty linked to violence, Gonzales hopes Trauma Informed Care, a citywide initiative, launched this month, will help reduce crime.

"We are trying to train 11 agency partners from our hospitals, from our schools, the criminal justice system, the city of San Antonio, our nonprofit agencies, to become trauma informed," Gonzales said.

The idea of Trauma Informed Care is to dissect specific causes of crimes by looking into offenders' backgrounds.

"It means we start asking people not, 'Why are you doing this? but, 'What happened to you?'" Gonzales said.

Gonzales said job training is also essential. 

There is a youth workforce center on the West Side that pairs people ages 16-24 with schools and jobs, and a program called Project Quest.

"We need skilled workers, to train them and connect them directly with a company that will give them a job," Gonzales said.
 
However, being able to get to work, is also a challenge for many in District 5. 

"Owning a vehicle is really cost prohibitive," Gonzales said.

One of the ways Gonzales hopes to address transportation issues is by making sure the city has infrastructure that can support alternative modes of transportation, such as electronic scooters and bikes. Gonzales said she's speaking with transportation companies to make sure they can accept various forms of transportation because not everyone has a bank account.

Gonzales said she also wants to expand VIA bus routes.

"More rapid transportation, more frequent service, and that we cover the areas that have the employment centers," Gonzales said.

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