Organizations compete for stretched tax dollars to help city's homeless population

By Patty Santos - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Stretching tax dollars to help the homeless in the city is a competitive process for organizations to get their hands on the limited funds.

Melody Woosely, human services director for the city of San Antonio, said there is $8.9 million provided for homeless programs. More than 70 organizations submitted proposals.

The Society of St. Vincent De Paul runs St. Vinny’s Bistro at the Haven for Hope campus.

The Society of St. Vincent De Paul and Haven for Hope formed a partnership in 2010.

Chef Lorris Gibson, who was once on the receiving side of the food line, is now in charge of the kitchen.

“I know we feed, but we do so much more,” Gibson said. The “LifeWorks program in the bistro, where we get trainees, people from courtyard, and train them up to basic skills, going out there and getting jobs starting to feel better about themselves, that's what makes the kitchen magical.”

It costs about $1.8 million to run the food program annually. They prepare more than 33,000 meals monthly, and about eight people work in the bistro.

For the first time, the Society of St. Vincent De Paul has asked the city for funds for the meal program.

“We have a beautiful kitchen but that gets real expensive. Just recently, to get the kettle fixed (it cost) $1,200. It could be a huge impact on the budget,” Gibson said.

The Society of St. Vincent De Paul asked for $250,000 in funds and is set to receive about $135,000. 

“At this point, it’s a huge step in the right direction, and we’re going to stay optimistic about it,” Gibson said.

The Society of St. Vincent De Paul also receives more than $47,000 from the city for its Rapid Rehousing program to help find permanent housing for the homeless.

The budget is expected to be passed and finalized next week.

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