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Members of faith community say they shouldn't pay fees for helping the homeless

Is the cost too high to help the homeless in San Antonio? Members of the faith community believe it's time for the city to look at the price tag.

SAN ANTONIO — Pastor Alex Fleming spends his days assisting the homeless at his Life Restored Church. But it comes at a cost. A price he and others members of the faith based community believe can be lowered.

"These are my people, and I'm speaking on behalf of my people that we need help on a consistent basis," Fleming said.

Wednesday, Fleming and those members were joined by former City Council member Greg Brockhouse to push for people and not the process. "We've done the leg work for the city council," Brockhouse said.

Fleming sought the mentoring of Brockhouse to draft a council consideration request to waive and reduce fees for faith based groups and non-profits that help the homeless at least three days a week.

COUNCIL CONSIDERATION REQUEST FROM: To Be Determined Erik Walsh, City Manager; Leticia Vacek, City Clerk; Andy Segovia, City COPIES TO: Attorney; John Peterek, Interim Assistant to City Manager; Emily McGinn, Assistant to the City Council Review Approach to Incentivize the Faith Base and Non-Profit Communities in SUBJECT: Providing Human Services

"We're making a call of action to any council member who has compassion," Fleming said. " Any council member who says it's about time we bring the wall down and we partner."

The pastor has had his share of run-ins with the city about being compliant to on human services rules.

SAN ANTONIO - Life Restored Church has been helping people in need for four years now. "We provide food, clothing, showers, and temporary shelter when it's below 30 (degrees)," Pastor Alex Fleming said. The church serves 400 meals a week and 180 free showers a month.

He serves 400 meals weekly and 180 showers a month to those in need.

In July, the city's Development Services Department said the church was not properly zoned and didn't have the permits required to serve the homeless legally. Fleming received six violations. He was fined $1,800.

"Help us help the people you also want to help," he said. "And let's become partners together."

In Fleming's council request, he wants council members to reduce or waive fees associated with planning and zoning, building code costs, food permits, property taxes and existing fines levied for non-compliance.

Any council member can choose to champion the request, Brockhouse said.

Fleming's church is in Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales' district. She didn't shoot his idea down. "It's a complicated issue. What constitutes helping the homeless? Many nuances would have to be clarified," she said in a statement.

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