Health care costs, homelessness, child abuse among top concerns for voters, Bexar Facts poll says

Opinions of 602 local voters gauged in late September

Bexar Facts (Bexar Facts/KSAT/San Antonio Report)

SAN ANTONIO – The cost of health care, homelessness and child abuse are the top concerns for Bexar County voters, according to a Bexar Facts-KSAT-San Antonio Report poll released this week.

The poll, which took place over phone and email in English and Spanish between Sept. 21 and Sept. 27, gauged the opinions of 602 Bexar County voters.

Bexar Facts Poll conducted in the third quarter of 2021 asks voters what their top concerns are. (KSAT)

The participants were asked a variety of questions, including what they thought are the biggest problems in the San Antonio area. They were asked to rate the problems as extremely serious, very serious, somewhat serious, not serious or they don’t know.

At the top of the list of concerns was the cost of health care at 73%, which was viewed as an extremely/very serious problem. Next was homelessness at 69% followed by increase in child abuse at 68%.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, as of July 2020, the average annual cost of health insurance in the US is $7,470 for an individual and $21,342 for a family.

The San Antonio City Council in September approved a $3.1 billion FY 2022 budget, which includes $16.3 million more for the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District.

Metro Health officials said they plan to use those funds to invest in the agency’s Year 1 of its 5-year Strategic Growth Plan that focuses on four key initiatives: Mental health, health justice, access to care, and technology/infrastructure to focus on its mission of healthy people thriving in a healthy community.

Official said the initiative will ensure that residents can find healthcare more easily and locally to improve quality of life and reduce health disparities, including establishing a Community Health Worker Hub that will focus on improving mental health literacy and peer support for minority communities.

Metro Health plans to continue to promote free health programs and services often tied to annual observances, such as National Public Health Week (April), Pride Month (June), National Immunization Awareness Month (August), Domestic Violence Awareness Month (October) and Diabetes Awareness Month (November).

The Strategic Growth Plan also supports Metro Health’s other programs that address the health and well-being of our community, such as its asthma program, SA KIDS Breathe, testing for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases through its STD Clinic, routine immunizations for infants and children through its Immunization Clinic plus others.

As the city of San Antonio continues to grow, the homeless population is becoming even more apparent.

As reported in an episode of KSAT Explains, the issue is complicated, difficult to address and there is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Despite the challenges, homeless service providers in San Antonio keep pushing forward with a common goal of helping those in need get off the streets.

With that in mind, the San Antonio City Council voted in June to lease a downtown hotel to SAMMinistries to operate as a low-barrier shelter, or a shelter that doesn’t have the same requirements as other facilities. This type of shelter can help people suffering from drug addiction, people who have emotional or behavioral health issues and registered sex offenders. But sometimes accepting help is hard for people who have been living on the streets for years.

And once a person accepts help and shelter, the next step is making sure they stay housed. Data from the city’s Dept. of Human Services shows that in 2019, a total of 773 of 3,072 people who had successfully exited the city’s homeless response system had returned to homelessness.

Providers and outreach workers say the best way one can help is to volunteer with or donate to organizations that have been working with this community for years to build relationships.

While increases in child abuse was cited as a top concern, according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, for fiscal year 2020, it received 23,379 reports of child abuse cases compared to 25,608 in 2019.

Yolanda Valenzuela worked for the nonprofit Child Advocates San Antonio, or CASA, for 15 years and served on the Bexar County Child Welfare Board. She said stress due to financial difficulties can lead to child abuse. Valenzuela urges single parents and couples to call 211 to get help with food and clothing.

Bexar Facts poll conducted in Quarter 3 in 2021 finds that severe weather and public transit are less serious concerns. (KSAT)

Despite the winter storm in February that left tens of thousands of San Antonio area residents shivering without heat for days, poll participants don’t appear to be very concerned about an increase in severe weather that many point to climate change.

According to the poll, only 35% of participants viewed severe weather as an extremely serious/very serious problem.

Inadequate public transit service options also don’t appear to be a big concern, with only 23% saying it’s an extremely serious/very serious problem.

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About the Author:

David Ibañez has been managing editor of since the website's launch in October 2000.