Homeless encampment will stay outside councilman’s office as city continues outreach efforts

District 1 Councilman Roberto Treviño opposed abatement plans

District 1 Councilman Roberto Treviño, right, speaks to a resident about the encampment outside his field office. (Azian Bermea, KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio District 1 Councilman Roberto Treviño spent Thursday night at his field office, prepared to stop an abatement that would displace homeless people who have camped on the property.

“We don’t want the city to criminalize homelessness,” Treviño said. “We’re trying to help people.”

City crews, however, never showed up on Friday to sweep the field office, located on Vance Jackson Road near the Westfall Library.

In a statement, City Manager Erik Walsh said that, after speaking with Treviño, people without shelter can stay at that property “for the next 2-3 weeks.”

“The City’s Department of Human Services will work with our partners and the Councilman’s staff to do intense case management and get the individuals who need help connected with the appropriate services,” Walsh said. “Our goal is to eliminate the need for the encampment in the coming weeks. We will continue to monitor the situation.”

The council member and city manager disagreed on their assessments of the encampment.

“There’s nothing to abate,” Treviño told KSAT, saying his staff has been trying to help people here since July.

But Walsh said after visiting the field office last week, he “felt the area needed to be addressed.” Walsh added that criminal behavior cannot be tolerated and that people visiting the nearby library need to “feel safe and secure.”

“I asked the Department of Human Services and outreach staff to work with the individuals to secure a place for them to get the assistance they need. We don’t just “order” abatements without outreach and care,” Walsh said. “My direction was to address the need, safety, care and protection of all involved.”

Another encampment was swept by the city on Wednesday. Police said the move was necessary following a string of violent crimes.

That abatement was criticized by another elected official, District 2 Councilwoman Jada Andrews-Sullivan.

“There’s too much money and resources for this to be the images we see today, those families deserve better,” Andrews-Sullivan said

Treviño said he was encouraged by seeing “a lot of compassion” in the community toward the homeless people staying at his office. The councilman said he hopes to coordinate better with the city manager’s office to reach a resolution on the issue.