SAN ANTONIO – Homelessness in San Antonio has been an issue for years, and the pandemic made the problem worse.
In response, the city began partnering with nonprofits to open homeless resource hubs.
#Tonightat10 Homeless Resource Hubs were born out of pandemic necessity but are they actually working? Tonight on the Nightbeat we look into how the city is measuring their level of success and if they’re helping to get people off of the street. @ksatnews pic.twitter.com/yTiGHlIraV— Leigh Waldman (@LeighWaldman) November 23, 2021
“We have homelessness all over the place,” said Morjoriee White, the homeless services administrator for the city.
Some are experiencing homelessness for the first time, while others have been down on their luck for a while.
“I was taking care of my mother and me, and my sister was there, and my mother passed on,” said Kenny Jones, a man experiencing homelessness. “I didn’t find it necessary for me to stay any longer, so I left. That was my first time being homeless.”
During the pandemic, the number of people down on their luck increased, so the city stepped in to open homeless resource hubs with community partners.
“These hubs have enabled us to build rapport with them, build trust, but also bring the community together,” White said.
The hub created a centralized resource for medical care, behavioral health services, employment opportunities and housing.
“It’s been open for maybe six months, and we’ve already put 300 people into temporary housing,” said Gavin Rogers, executive director of the Corazon Resource Hub.
Looking at data from Corazon, from the opening of the resource hub in June to the following month, July, the number of people put into housing of some kind doubled.
By opening these resource hubs, the city was able to identify a problem it didn’t know it had when it came to helping the homeless population.
“When we look at our previous data before the hubs, we get a lot more nos than we do yeses, and that’s for several reasons -- traumatic experiences, lack of trust,” White said.
The hubs have allowed volunteers and employees to build relationships, establish trust and create dialogue.
“What we’re seeing is that people are becoming more engaged and interested in figuring out what could be a next level beyond the state of homelessness that they’re presently experiencing,” White explained.
That engagement means places like Corazon are seeing new faces in their halls because they’ve been able to get familiar faces, like Kenny Jones, to take the next step -- moving into his own apartment.
“The program did help me get back to getting back on my feet, and that’s what I’m going to need. You look at the situations of the day a lot differently when you are in a program like this,” Jones said.
Although the resource hubs were born out of pandemic necessity, they’ve unveiled what could be a long-term solution in reducing San Antonio’s homeless population.
There are currently two homeless resource hubs -- one at Corazon and one at Harper’s Chapel.
To open more, other organizations would need to step in and help. The city is ready to expand, but it needs organizations to offer their spaces.
At the moment, the majority of resources are focused downtown, but the hope is to have hubs in every district.