City of San Antonio plans to increase homeless encampment sweeps with proposed budget

Sweeps would increase from 500 to 700

SAN ANTONIO – The City of San Antonio’s proposed budget has many layers, and one issue the city plans to increase spending on in the next fiscal year is tackling homelessness. If the budget is approved, the city will allocate funds for an additional 200 encampment sweeps for FY 2024.

A bedsheet hanging from a fence at the corner of Broadway and Casa Blanca reads, “Stop sweeps, revise the budget,” a likely nod to the city budget proposal for the new fiscal year.

Thomas Blinco experienced homelessness for four years. Now sober, he has a roof over his head, but he still remembers how traumatic sweeps can be.

“The first one that I ever went through was very scary. They were kicking our stuff around, tearing our tents down and everything else, so it’s very rude,” he said.

Blinco tries to help others experiencing homelessness through his work with Christian Assistance Ministries.

The nonprofit’s president, Dawn White-Fosdick, said the city’s communication on sweeps has improved over the past few years.

“There’s a warning we send out to outreach workers who work on the streets for those experiencing homelessness to help them pack their bags and save their items,” said White-Fosdick.

This year, the city set aside money to clear out 500 encampments, but the city’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2024 would fund 700. White-Fosdick says she’s OK with that for one reason.

“If that’s all that San Antonio was doing, was cleaning out encampments and running people off, then I wouldn’t say it was a good idea,” White-Fosdick said. “Our city budget is getting ready to approve some new housing, some new beds for clients, some low barrier places for people to go.”

She added that encampments can turn dangerous if they go unchecked, both for the clients they help and people who live near them, like Mitch Kilby.

“One person freaked out on our neighbors and threw the furniture everywhere, and they’ll pass out on the sidewalk,” Kilby said. “I know there is a substance abuse issue, and it’s really sad, but I wish the city would do more.”

The full budget proposal and information on various budget hearings are available on the city’s website.

City staff has been hosting a series of town hall meetings. The following two are on Wednesday, August 30, and Thursday, September 7.


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About the Author:

John Paul Barajas is a reporter at KSAT 12. Previously, he worked at KRGV 5 in the Rio Grande Valley. He has a degree from the University of Houston. In his free time, he likes to get a workout in, spend time on the water and check out good eats and drinks.