Consultant shares preliminary recommendations for curbing homelessness in SA

California-based nonprofit Homebase to present final report in April

San Antonio – A California-based nonprofit hired to create a plan to reduce homelessness in San Antonio has unveiled some preliminary recommendations.

In a Community Health and Equity Committee meeting Monday, Homebase policy analyst Alicia Lehmer laid out four draft versions of recommendations: increasing investment in community-based housing and service options, expanding a homeless outreach clinician pilot program, conducting an analysis of frequent users of public resources and systems of care, and developing prioritization policies and targeted interventions to connect people living on the streets or in encampments to stable housing.

Homebase was contracted by the city in October to create a homeless strategic plan for the City of San Antonio. The organization’s three-member team conducted 70 meetings with hundreds of people throughout the city from November through February.

It is expected to present a final plan with recommendations for reducing homelessness and improving the city’s homeless response system to the City Council on April 8.

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Speaking after the meeting, Lehmer said the plan will likely include additional recommendations, but also steps for action.

“So things like what will this look like in terms of budget? What will this look like in terms of, you know, creating different systems or different processes?” she said.

Lehmer said the Homebase team heard several themes throughout its conversations, including a need for a continuum of housing services; concerns with “unsheltered homelessness," or people living on the streets, in vehicles, or in encampments; a need for better coordination and communication between providers; and a need for more funding for housing and services.

However, she also noted that San Antonio appears to be doing many things well already.

“We’ve heard over and over again that San Antonio has a culture of compassion, empathy,” Lehmer said.

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The committee members also had questions about the process and plan, some of which may end up sparking some second looks by Homebase, such as the effect of rising property taxes on homelessness.

Whatever Homebase addresses in its final plan, Lehmer said it will focus on realistic achievements for a five-to-10 year period.

“We want to do what is realistic and what is possible,” she said.

About the Author:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.