San Antonio’s largest homeless shelter still at capacity after surge of families over the summer

Families still looking for help at Haven for Hope even though new school year started

SAN ANTONIO – Haven for Hope, the largest homeless shelter in San Antonio, is operating at capacity.

Shelter officials said the record heat over the summer brought in hundreds of families, and the surge hasn’t let up.

“This summer we’ve seen an increase, which is pretty typical during the summer months. We see an increase, especially in families who come to Haven seeking shelter and services. But the numbers have continued to increase, and they didn’t go down when the school year started,” said Haven for Hope Director of Communications Terri Behling.

Lefreida Smith and her son know first-hand about the current conditions at the shelter.

“It is overpopulated, but they’re getting the people that are trying to work the system the right way. They’re getting them out and getting them in good homes,” Smith said. “What I like about this place is that it’s not just a shelter. They also genuinely want to help you.”

About 1,700 people on average stay at the shelter daily.

“When Haven for Hope opened in 2010, our design capacity was 1,450, with the possibility of about 200 to 250 for overflow. We do operate in what we call emergency overflow. That would be when we have extreme weather events,” Behling said.

She adds that Haven For Hope never gets to the point where families will be turned away. But if surges like the one happen more frequently, a reassessment may be needed.

“In reality, the City of San Antonio is probably going to have to expand capacity if numbers continue like this,” Behling said.

Haven for Hope has programs designed to help individuals in a personally formulated plan, but getting people back on their feet doesn’t happen overnight.

As for Smith and her family, she is on the road to where she wants to be and said she is so thankful for Haven for Help.

“(When) I came here, I was scared. And I’m like, ‘This is a good program.’ They got the resources and they are willing to help you if you want to help yourself,” she said.

Haven for Hope is always looking for volunteers, items, and financial donations to help as many people as possible. If you are interested in helping out, click here.

About the Authors:

Max Massey is the GMSA weekend anchor and a general assignments reporter. Max has been live at some of the biggest national stories out of Texas in recent years, including the Sutherland Springs shooting, Hurricane Harvey and the manhunt for the Austin bomber. Outside of work, Max follows politics and sports, especially Penn State, his alma mater.