SAN ANTONIO – City crews cleared out a homeless camp in downtown San Antonio Wednesday and cleaned the area following a string of violent crimes and health hazards, police said.
The decision to shut down the camp of about 50 tents at the overpass at Interstate 37 and Brooklyn was made after the San Antonio Police Department evaluated the situation a week ago, SAPD Sgt. Dean Reuter said.
SAPD has responded to numerous incidents, including shootings and stabbings, Reuter said. In one case, a homeless person was set on fire, he said. Police also responded to reports of extortion with homeless people forced to pay for protection.
“If we have an encampment that is causing a problem, we are going to look into it,” Reuter said.
Health hazards were another reason for the shutdown, including the discovery of feces around the camp, Reuter said.
The homeless in the area are encouraged to seek shelter and other assistance at Haven For Hope and SAMM Ministries.
During the visit last week, Reuter said that outreach options were offered to a number of veterans at the camp. Haven For Hope also offered a ride to its shelter in a van.
Many of the homeless who were forced to move out said they were frustrated about having to leave.
Reuter said despite the violence, homeless people “are not bad people and they all have a different story.”
He added that SAPD and other city agencies will continue to monitor that camp and others around the city.
Laura Elizabeth Mayes, assistant director for government and public affairs for the City of San Antonio, released the following statement to KSAT about the camp’s shutdown:
This abatement is consistent with the priorities of the City’s recovery and resiliency plan. The City has added resources to make emergency shelters COVID-compliant, provide more rehousing programs and more on the ground outreach. The City invests $32 million annually to aid persons experiencing homelessness. These funds provide operations and support funding for partner agencies, outreach and cleanup work.
Outreach staff present to engage with our neighbors experiencing homelessness included DHS, Centro San Antonio, SaMMinistries, Haven for Hope, Broken Warriors Angels (Vietnam Disabled Veterans), CHCS PATH, Thrive Youth Center and Christian Assistance Ministries (CAM). The City confirmed shelter availability for every person.
DHS also ensured homeless and human services organizations within close proximity to this encampment were aware of the encampment abatement event to ensure transparency and solicit their assistance with encouraging their clients experiencing homelessness residing at this location to seek services and also give reminders about the upcoming abatement.