Lack of ID is main barrier for homeless people getting into shelters. Local effort seeks to change that.

Housing and Urban Development data says elderly populations are the rising demographic experiencing homelessness

More people experiencing homelessness are going into shelters, according to a recent report from the South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless.

SAN ANTONIO – More people experiencing homelessness in San Antonio are going into shelters, according to a recent report from the South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless (SARAH).

The survey found a 30% increase in people moving into shelters compared to 2020, which means about a third more people are accessing wrap-around services.

However, the main barrier for people entering a shelter is not having an ID.

San Antonio’s Health and Human Services’ homeless outreach team is partnering with local nonprofits and San Antonio police to help people get an ID.

Jim Wyley, 64, and his dog Lucy became homeless last month after the house they were renting was bought out.

“I’m 64 and my whole life it’s never been like this before,” Wyley said.

Wyley isn’t alone. Housing and Urban Development data states elderly populations are the rising demographic experiencing homelessness because of their fixed income and the rising cost of living.

Now, Wyley has permission to live in someone’s backyard.

“I mean it’s bad enough with the heat,” Wyley said.

Wyley doesn’t want to sleep outside anymore, but in order to get him and Lucy in a shelter, he needs an ID.

The Salvation Army does not accept people without an ID.

Haven for Hope allows people to sleep in their courtyard without an ID, but if someone wants kennel space for a pet and wrap-around services, they need an ID.

According to the survey from SARAH, the top priorities for people experiencing homeless are finding housing, finding health care and obtaining an ID.

Getting folks into shelters could help them have enough support to get back on their feet, find a job and housing.

Homeless outreach specialist Daniel Groven said he is helping Wyley obtain an ID for the first time in 10 years and it will make a difference in Wyley’s living situation.

“That opens up everything. That opens up the shelter for him and Lucy,” Groven said. “Data shows that the shorter, the quicker somebody’s there. An intervention can happen to get somebody off the streets, the more successful they will be and not return to the streets.”

Groven said it takes about five weeks for the ID to come in the mail. He said he consistently helps about 15 people at a time obtain an ID.

Wyley is grateful to be one of the people getting assistance.

“If you weren’t partaking in my interest of way of living, then I wouldn’t know what to do,” Wyley said.


About the Authors:

Camelia Juarez is a news reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2022. Camelia comes from a station in Lubbock, Texas. Now, she is back in her hometown. She received her degree from Texas State University. In her free time, Camelia enjoys thrifting, roller-skating and spending time with family and friends.