SAN ANTONIO – Canceled last year due to the pandemic, the annual Point in Time Count resumed Tuesday night, updating its 2020 census of people experiencing homelessness in San Antonio and Bexar County.
“It’s too soon to say if the numbers are growing, but what I will say is that the service level needs are severe,” said Katie Vela, executive director of the South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless.
In order to meet those needs, Vela said the data collected on a mobile app by just over 200 volunteers will be helpful in planning and funding for those programs.
But Vela said the volunteer teams weren’t just collecting data. She said they handed out hygiene kits and other supplies, as well as getting help and shelter for many of those they encountered.
The teams spent six hours on the streets, wrapping up at midnight.
Vela said they also had an SAPD officer on standby, if needed.
Although they usually welcome the assistance, Vela said, “People who are experiencing homelessness have had vast trauma, adverse childhood experiences, all sorts of things have happened in their life that make them distrustful.”
As a result, Vela said many of them have struggled to get the help they need.
“We’re serving tons of people, families, young adults, veterans, but we continue to see this gap in medical respite and ongoing permanent supportive housing,” she said.
Vela said an example is the new Towne Twin Village now under construction on Dietrich Road that will have a series of tiny homes with a service center in the middle of the community.
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, who was among the volunteers, said San Antonio is in the midst of a national House America campaign.
Nirenberg said the city is well on its way to fulfilling its pledge “to house 1,500 of our homeless neighbors before the end of the year.”
The last Point in Time Count in 2020 had a total of 2,932 people who were either in shelters or unsheltered, according to a SARAH spokesman.
Vela said the latest data is being reviewed now ahead of its final report in late May.