SAN ANTONIO — The YMCA Labor Child Care Center is closing after 12 years due to a public housing project planned for the downtown area in the Lavaca district.
In a letter to parents, the YMCA said 'With the City of San Antonio's landscaping changing, City Council has approved a redevelopment plan for the Victoria Commons area'. The area is a San Antonio Housing Authority project.
The letter said the center's official last day will be on August 12, 2022.
The YMCA said 88 children are enrolled at the child care facility. Brielle Insler's daughter Azhara is one of them.
"Oh yeah, she loves this place," said Insler.
Insler said her 5-year-old will be graduating from the center's preschool program this spring, and will be attending kindergarten elsewhere. However, she said, receiving the letter was still devastating.
"There are a lot of low income families that are here. There are kids that get two and a half meals here. The teaching staff, in itself, they have been a family for us. Just to hear that they would be separated, that some of these kids might not have a place to go, that some of these parents are gonna be left without any help or affordable help didn’t seem okay. It's been hard,” she said.
The San Antonio Housing Authority provided this statement to KENS 5:
"The property the YMCA has temporarily leased was once home to the Victoria Courts community, which offered housing for generations and will now make way for new affordable housing to address the ongoing housing crisis in the city. The redevelopment plan was discussed extensively with the community over the course of many years, and the YMCA was notified in September 2021 of the decision to return the land to provide housing options as it was intended and meet the housing mission of SAHA.
The YMCA of Greater San Antonio has been in search of a new facility since last year to host its early childhood center and has provided advance notice for families. They are graciously assisting families find alternative childcare in the area and have openings at two locations, one of which is 2 miles away and the other is 5 miles away. We are thankful for the YMCA and the care they have provided many families in the Victoria Commons area and know they will continue to be a partner at our current and future developments."
A YMCA spokeswoman said the search for a new facility has so far been unsuccessful.
"Mostly because the type of facility we need for licensing is just very difficult. The ones that we've come across need a lot of work, you know, a complete new system, building, repairs, all of that kind of stuff. And so we're trying to move quickly with this timeline. And so we're trying to get something that's a little more move and ready, and that's just hard right now with the market," said Shannon Gowen, the YMCA'S Senior Director of Mission Advancement & Communications.
Insler prefers a center remain in the downtown area where she says daycare is already limited and waiting lists elsewhere are long.
“I’m just hoping we can pull together to take the steps to keep this family together," she said.
Insler said one parent started a online petition, while she reached out to her local representative. District 1 Councilman Mario Bravo told KENS 5 he reached out to the city manager's office to request assistance.
"They are ready to review all city properties and see if we have any empty buildings that may be a good fit for the YMCA. In addition to that, we have reached out to a local church that had been considering starting their own daycare. The problem is they don't have their own space today," said Councilman Bravo.
Regardless, he said his office plans to meet with church leaders on Monday as some of them are connected to downtown real estate experts. He said representatives from the YMCA will be in attendance, too.
"We'll have a conversation and just brainstorm on trying to find new locations," he said.