SAN ANTONIO – The pandemic has restricted resources for the homeless, and a local nonprofit has stepped up to fill the need.
“You have a wide range of people who either were never staying in the shelter and kind of living on our streets, and they were relying on the community. Different churches fed them. People donated clothing. Restaurants would let them come in and use the restroom or even provide them with a meal. And now that particular population has fewer and fewer resources,” said Dawn White-Fosdick, president and CEO of Christian Assistance Ministry, a nonprofit that helps the homeless.
White-Fosdick said a lot of homeless people don’t even know where to go or what to do.
“We went from feeding maybe 75 to 100 people a day with sack lunches -- to 200,” White-Fosdick said.
Haven for Hope says it follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Metropolitan Health District guidelines. President and CEO Kenny Wilson said before the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization helped about 1,500 people per day, and now they are helping around 1,100.
Wilson believes some people are choosing to hunker down somewhere else during the pandemic, including staying with friends or family.
“There’s just an array of resources that people need who are homeless,” White-Fosdick said.
City leaders know there is a need, and they are working on expanding resources and outreach efforts for the homeless population.
Metro Health Interim Director Dr. Colleen Bridger said local shelters have initiated safety precautions.
“We have expanded shelter access to high-risk individuals. We have them in a hotel in private or semi-private rooms to decrease the risk that they would come in contact with COVID 19,” Bridger said.
Bridger said part of the city’s recovery plan includes another 500 rooms for homeless people ready to transition out of the shelter but not prepared for housing.
“So that’s another 500 spaces for homeless individuals that are freed up in our existing shelters,” Bridger said.
In April, the city launched its Homeless Connection Hotline. People experiencing homelessness can call 210-207-1799. The city will provide food and shelter information. The staff also takes care of prescreening candidates or Haven for Hope.
White-Fosdick said people who want to help can visit this website, and there is a list of food kits you can prepare for the homeless community, or you can donate specific clothing.