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Homeless camp sweeps, shelter expansions and more affordable housing prioritized in 2024 San Antonio budget

SAMMinistries President and CEO Nikisha Baker believes the Medical Center would be a suitable location for establishing a low-barrier emergency shelter.

SAN ANTONIO — Funds approved through the 2024 city budget will go toward assisting the homeless community across San Antonio.

The city council greenlit a $3.7 billion last week with a major focus on enhancing public safety. A city-commissioned survey ranked the topic of homelessness as the number one priority budget priority.  

More than $17 million is slated to go toward homeless outreach efforts, prevention programs and encampment cleanups, among other initiatives. This money is in addition to federal dollars and local bond funds for affordable housing projects. 

The 2023 point-in-time count shows the overall number of homeless individuals increased 5.3% compared to 2022, according to the South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless (SARAH). 

Data shows the unsheltered count decreased by 15.6% from the 2022 Point-In-Time report. 

The 2024 budget aims to shelter 400 people and perform up to 700 encampment cleanups, or abatements. 

“Abating an encampment does not ultimately address homelessness. We still need a place for people to go that meets their needs,” said Katie Wilson, SARAH’s executive director. 

Wilson stressed the importance of continued collaboration between the city, the community and non-profit partners to come up with longterm solutions to help the homeless.

Building more affordable housing and projects like Towne Twin Village and Wilson are crucial to help various demographics in the homeless community or those at risk of ending up on the streets. 

“We still estimate we need 500 or 600 more units to meet the needs of everyone who’s unsheltered and chronically homeless and so by chronic we mean they have severe mental health, developmental disabilities,” Wilson said. 

The SAMMinistries shelter downtown has assisted more than 270 individuals experiencing chronic homelessness over the past two years. Now there are discussions on where to establish another low-barrier shelter. 

“If there is an opportunity to have a site that’s close to the Medical Center and the resources that exist there including the VA and UT Health and so many others, that would be ideal,” said Nikisha Baker, president and CEO of SAMMinistries. 

Like Wilson, Baker is hopeful for additional housing projects to become reality. In May 2022, San Antonio voters approved a $150 million in bond bonds, which will be distributed over five years to assist with affordable housing projects. 

“I think this is our time really to set an example here in San Antonio of the impact we can make,” Baker said.

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