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'I’m able to live again' | San Antonio surpasses goal as part of initiative to rehouse people experiencing homelessness

Mary Singleton is among more than 538 individuals who've been helped since August to find permanent housing.

SAN ANTONIO — The City of San Antonio and partnered organizations have surpassed the initial goal to rehouse 500 households experiencing homelessness.

Since August, housing surge partners have reported 538 permanent housing placements.

Mary Singleton is among those who’ve been helped and is now living in an apartment of her own.

“I love my independence.” Singleton said.

Singleton is one of 11 children who quickly learned the value of working hard when growing up.

“I thought we were poor, but my dad said he had money. You go out there and get your own,” Singleton said.

She worked in the Texas prison system for 10 years then hit the road driving big rig trucks, which led to declining health.

“I was still a workaholic and didn’t eat correctly, blood pressure,” Singleton said.

Multiple aneurisms and strokes followed by self-administered rehab, made it difficult for Singleton to make ends meet. She eventually lost her home and had no job.

“At times, I was even sleeping in my vehicle because I was ashamed and didn’t want my children to know,” Singleton said.

SAMMinistries is among the faces of hope that stepped into help Singleton secure a place to call her own.

She now lives in an apartment complex in the Medical Center, which she’s been enjoying since August.

Singleton’s door is decorated with the names of those who’ve interacted with her since she first moved in.

It’s Singleton’s door of gratitude as she works on bouncing back in life.

She’s one exam away from obtaining her real estate license.

“I’m able to live again. I feel whole again. I feel like a person,” Singleton said.

SAMMinistries president and CEO Nikisha Baker said the organization was responsible for 100 out of 538 permanent housing placements as part of the House America initiative.

The city in partnership with the South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless (SARAH) is using federal funding toward the expedited housing process.

“Our homeless service providers are incredible,” says Katie Vela, executive director of SARAH. “We are grateful for their unmatched commitment, compassion, and grit in helping our most vulnerable neighbors during another challenging year--but they need our support. We must expand housing availability, including permanent supportive housing, to meet the present and future needs of our residents experiencing homelessness. We hope our community closely monitors the housing bond and other opportunities to fund affordable housing development.”

Improvements include increased landlord engagement, a streamlined ID recovery process, and more resources to help caseworkers locate units for clients with high barriers to housing, according to city officials.

“With 18 percent of our population living at or below poverty and another 30 plus percent considered being working poor we have got a lot of folks who are at risk,” Baker said.

In May, voters will consider a $150 million housing bond which could prove transformational in the journey to eliminate homelessness.

“Often times these kind of impacts can be multigenerational in terms of the change,” Baker said.

As for Singleton, she wants to serve as an advocate for those struggling on the streets.

 “I can’t begin to tell people, keep trying, keep striving, don’t give up," she said. 

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