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City unveils new, 5-year strategic plan to fight homelessness

Threat of wave of COVID-related evictions looms over plans

SAN ANTONIO – City staff presented a new five-year strategic plan on Wednesday to deal with homelessness in San Antonio and Bexar County. They said they are also planning for a possible wave of newly homeless residents from COVID-19-related evictions.

The strategic plan was developed by California-based nonprofit Homebase and includes recommendations such as increasing the investment in outreach teams and community-based housing and services. Commissioned in October 2019, the report was initially expected to be delivered in April, but the date was pushed back because of the pandemic.

The recommendations Homebase included in the 121-page report are the following:

  • RECOMMENDATION #1: Implement a single collective-impact leadership group for San Antonio and Bexar County.
  • RECOMMENDATION #2: Increase investment in community-based housing and service options.
  • RECOMMENDATION #3: Increase capacity and effectiveness of outreach through improved structure for coordinating diverse outreach efforts across San Antonio/Bexar County and expansion of homeless outreach clinician pilot program.
  • RECOMMENDATION #4: Conduct a Frequent User System Engagement (FUSE) analysis to identify high utilizers of public resources among persons experiencing homelessness and connect them to appropriate housing and resources.
  • RECOMMENDATION #5: Develop detailed prioritization policies and targeted interventions to most effectively connect persons experiencing unsheltered homelessness to stable housing.
  • RECOMMENDATION #6: Increase focus on consumer engagement and equity throughout the homelessness response system.

Department of Human Services Director Melody Woosley presented the plan to council members during Wednesday’s B-session. She also said her department was working with the Neighborhood and Housing Services Department and community partners to develop a contingency plan for shelter and housing in the case of a wave of COVID-19-related evictions.

The system has the capacity to handle the current level of evictions, Woosley said, “but there is a point at which the homeless system does not have the ability to absorb a large number of evicted families.”

Contingencies could include housing recently evicted families at hotels or other locations. The plan is scheduled to be finished in January, which is around the time the community could see a wave of evictions.

Various local, state, and federal protections have kept many Texan families from being forced out of their homes. However, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moratorium on evictions is set to expire at the end of the month.

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