City homeless outreach put out the word about shelters amid cold spell

Temporary shelters, warming centers in San Antonio open in the face of freezing temperatures

SAN ANTONIO – For most of the week, Trez Scipio has been warning his clients about the impending cold weather -- weather that’s now in San Antonio.

As a homeless outreach clinical coordinator with the Department of Human Services, Scipio is part of the City of San Antonio’s efforts to connect homeless residents to resources they need. In the face of the freezing temperatures this week, Scipio is focused on making sure they’re able to stay warm.

Due to the cold weather, city officials said there are several organizations and churches offering temporary shelters. The city and county have also opened warming centers for the general public that will remain open overnight Thursday, though only the city’s centers are providing cots.

But not everyone Scipio talks to is looking to come in off the streets. Many of his long-term clients are hunkering down in their tents or structures they’ve made, he said.

“So a lot of my clients have said, ‘No, we’re not interested in shelter, even for the daytime to warm up,’” Scipio said. “However, they are asking for more things such as coats and gloves, hats, things of that nature.”

Shantell Thomas, who Scipio has been working with for several months, generally doesn’t like homeless shelters.

Though Scipio said Thomas has been approved for housing through the San Antonio Housing Authority, it’s not a done deal yet. They’re working on getting her social security card so she can finish the process.

In the meantime, Thomas has been staying outside. Scipio visited her at her tent Thursday - set up in a wooded area, away from others.

“I tried shelters, but they - they haven’t been working. So I’ve been staying out here. I feel more safer out here,” Thomas told KSAT.

But Wednesday night, which didn’t even reach freezing temperatures in San Antonio, was rough for her, bundled in up in her coat, shoes and multiple blankets.

And the prospect of spending another night in the cold had her reconsidering.

“As I’m by myself, I’m all right,” she told Scipio about staying outside in her tent. “But like I said...”

“It’s cold,” Scipio finished for her.

With his city van ready to go nearby, Scipio was able to give Thomas a ride to one of the city’s warming centers where she could stay overnight.

It’s not a permanent fix to her situation, but it’s something.

And with freezing temperatures on the horizon, it’s enough for now.

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About the Author:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.