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'A step in the right direction': Inside San Antonio's new homeless outreach program

The program, currently being tested by the city, aims to create services needed by those who don't have homes closer to where they live.

San Antonio’s Department of Human Services is testing out a new homeless outreach program looking to bring essential services to where they live. 

“Now we hold our street clinic on this side of town out of the field office, which is really luxurious for us to have a setup and stuff like this,” said Maria Turvin, sitting behind a folding table covered in portable meals and personal hygiene products just inside the garage door of the field office for San Antonio City Council District 1. 

Ordinarily, Turvin’s work with Yanawana Herbalarios has her walking under bridges and working out of the back of a car.

She has been setting up clinics in the field office at 1310 Vance Jackson Rd. since early February. But in the past two weeks, it’s become a bit more crowded.

“We have our department of human services, of course my team, my staff as well and our SAFE officers as well,” said District 1 Councilman Roberto Treviño. “Everyone here is here with one thing in mind, and that’s to help the community."

Morjoriee White is the homeless administrator with San Antonio’s Department of Human Services, which is running the hub. She says it owes its inspiration to the city’s coronavirus response.

“The idea of the hub came from our COVID response when we established hubs throughout the city when everything kind of closed down, to provide basic needs such as showers, ID recovery, masks, information about COVID-19, et cetera,” White said.

This program, which offers more general resources, such as ID recovery aid, basic medic services or veteran employment outreach, is in its early stages. As of now, it's only operating out of this one location on Wednesdays and Fridays.

“So many of our clients are like, you know, ‘You can only do ID recovery at one place.’ Or, 'We would utilize mental health care if it came to us,'" Turvin said. “So to have these things coming here to be more accessible is really exciting.”

White says the goal is eventually to have the hub operating in different locations around San Antonio throughout the week.

“That’s what street outreach is about. Meeting people where they’re at,” she said.

The District 1 Homeless Resource Hub at 1310 Vance Jackson Rd. operates Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. There is a Homeless Connections Hotline for anyone with questions at (210)207-1799.