Neighbors question east S.A. community center's future

People on the Eastside are concerned about losing an important resource in their community and they're blaming the city. The Ella Austin Community Center has served some of the city's most vulnerable for more than 100 years. But now there are concerns abo

SAN ANTONIO - It has served some of the city's most vulnerable for more than 100 years, but now, there is growing concern about the future of San Antonio's Ella Austin Community Center.

Jillian Irby relies on the community center for childcare.

"It's a lifesaver for me," said Irby.

She works full time and can't imagine life without the east San Antonio landmark.

"Ella Austin has been here for years, and I'm familiar with a lot of people here, so it's like home to me. It would be very, very devastating to lose," said Irby.

The non-profit has a building lease with the City of San Antonio that expired at the end of May.

Instead of its traditional 5 year lease, where the city provides the building for a dollar a year, the city is considering a shorter lease, a one or three year agreement.

NAACP President Oliver Hill said that would make fundraising almost impossible.

"Now what would that mean if you get the grant from different sources and you say you only have a year left on your lease, more than likely you won't get the grant," said Hill.

Ella Austin provides more than just daycare, it also provides food services and senior activities among other services.

Hill said he is worried the city wants to re-purpose the building.

"What happens to the people in the community from that point forward. Where will they go? What will they do?" said Hill.

The director of the department of human services for the City of San Antonio, Melody Woosley, would not say why there could be a possible change to the lease terms.

She did tell KENS 5 she's optimistic the city and Ella Austin can reach an agreement in the coming weeks.

Parents, like Jillian Irby, sure hope so.

"The one-on-one care my kid gets here, it's just like having them at home and it's very, very important to have that," said Irby.

© 2017 KENS-TV


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