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Blind San Antonio man averts homelessness, hopes housing bond helps others in need

The $150 million affordable housing bond would lead to creation of more rental units, maintaining of aging property and create permanent-supportive housing.

SAN ANTONIO — San Antonio voters are tasked with voting on a historic $150 million affordable housing bond, helping people like Jose Garcia, whose personal challenges almost led him to living on the streets.

“It’s just that now that I’m in this situation, it makes you look at things different. It’s amazing what we take for granted until it’s taken,” Garcia said.

Garcia’s eyesight began deteriorating three years ago.

“From one day to the next, I started seeing blurry. The next day it was pitch black,” Garcia said.

The San Antonio man’s vanishing vision was just the beginning chapter of a life spiraling out of control. Financial struggles stressed by medical visits were compounded by unwanted critters entering his home.

“It was really big and nice and roomy. But the towards end when I became blind, it got infested with cock roaches, so I had to get out of there,” Garcia said.

There were moments when Garcia feared the worst.

“I don’t know of any blind homeless people. The thought of it at first scared me to tears,” Garcia said.

But then SAMMinistries swooped in, providing Garcia the help he needed.

“It’s been amazing. They’ve done a lot for me,” Garcia said.

SAMMinistries moved Garcia 11 months ago to the Roselawn Apartments, where he’s provided long-term rental assistance through an emergency housing voucher since he was living in unsafe conditions at the previous home.

“Housing affordability and this housing crisis that’s kind of pending, affects all of us,” said Katie Vela, executive director of the South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless (SARAH). “It affects parents, it affects children, young adults looking for apartments. But it also means for people who want to move out of homelessness, there’s just aren’t options that they can afford in the longterm.”

Ending homelessness in San Antonio and ensuring there’s ample amount of permanent supportive affordable housing are among the goals Vela hopes the bond achieves.  

The bond also proposes to fund maintenance of housing, especially for aging residents who may have difficulties affording repairs.

City officials have stressed the bond would not result in increased taxes.

But if the bond fails to pass, organizations that assist those experiencing financial struggles and may be on the brink of homelessness, will continue to resort to other methods of funding.

“Our street outreach teams on the frontlines working with people on the street every day, this is what they’ve told us they need: They need housing with clinical support, medication management, all of that on site to help people with severe mental health, medical issues move off the street and have a permanent place to call home,” Vela said.

Meanwhile, a gracious Garcia is just glad to say there’s no place like home. He hopes to one day resume his old profession of working as a hair dresser.

“It’s just a big world the difference to go from thinking that you’re going to become completely homeless to what’re you going to do to being here.”

Early voting commenced April 25 and goes through May 3. Go here for polling locations and times.

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