SAN ANTONIO — The City of San Antonio has joined the House America initiative as part of the ongoing effort to provide permanent housing for 1,500 homeless people in the community.
A city spokesman says that mission to rehouse homeless residents is guided by the Community Homeless Strategic Plan, commissioned by the Department of Human Services (DHS) and released nearly one year ago.
The South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless (SARAH) and DHS will work together on deploying new federal funds to move the most vulnerable people experiencing homelessness into housing.
“The timing of this federal initiative was just well-aligned with the work we’re already doing,” said Katie Vela, SARAH’s executive director.
Vela noted building affordable housing is vital in the long term to accommodate homeless individuals and those on the brink of living on the streets.
San Antonio voters will be asked to consider a $150 million housing bond in May to build affordable housing projects for the disabled and chronically homeless.
“Affordability is affecting our whole community. The real estate market at all levels of income. Everyone is struggling I think seeing costs go up," Vela said. "We have to find a way to develop more units to really address that."
Current efforts to rehouse homeless people have proven effective, including for James Finney, a man of faith and a Marine veteran.
Finney was just 18 years old when his curiosity led him down a dark path.
“I wanted to learn what the streets were all about because I never had a father figure to teach me how to be a man,” Finney said.
He describes hanging around the wrong crowd and becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol. Finney had no stable place to call home.
But graduating high school at 21, then going on to join the military, signaled a shift toward a new life.
“I was tired of being laughed at, being mocked and not doing nothing. I said, 'OK, it’s time for me to change,'" Finney said.
He's since cleaned up his act and has enjoyed making homemade chicken alfredo at his own apartment for the past month.
He’s received assistance from SAMMinistries and Christian Assistance Ministry.
“I get my rent paid for six months. Rent free where I can save up money or do whatever I need to do try and better myself,” Finney said.
He’s now searching for employment while also serving as a voice for those struggling on the streets.
“I want to be the advocate to let people know if I can do it, they can do it too.”