SAN ANTONIO — The City of San Antonio has appointed its first chief housing officer in an overall effort to tackle issues of affordable housing, and curb homelessness across the community.
Mark Carmona has been appointed as the chief housing officer after the San Antonio City Council approved a housing plan three years ago calling for the executive position.
Carmona once served as president and CEO of Haven for Hope, familiarizing himself with the struggles of those who struggled with homelessness.
“If we don’t address job training, employment, gaps in housing, affordable housing, it’s going to be a challenge long term to address people experiencing homelessness,” Carmona said.
The City of San Antonio’s Strategic Housing Implementation Plan is a framework for addressing the needs for affordable housing over 10 years.
In May, voters will be asked to approve a $250 million bond that would directly fund various low-income housing projects.
Carmona stressed it’s a community-wide effort to meet the needs of residents experiencing poverty on the brink of living without a place to call home.
“Some people at home may be thinking, 'It really doesn’t affect me,' but you can be supportive of some of the things that are going on, so we’ll begin working on this education campaign to help along those lines,” he said.
The barriers of a criminal past proved challenging for Elisema Jones whose call for help seemed unanswered at times.
“I got out with nothing. I was struggling really bad,” Jones said. “For a minute, I was helpless. I felt like, I don’t know if I can do this.”
But then, SAMMinistries reached out, giving Jones a second chance.
“I feel like I won the lottery sometimes with them,” Jones said.
Four months in and Jones has a place to call home, has a part-time job working in maintenance and is on track to a more productive life.
“There’s no way that six months ago, you could’ve told me you’re going to be good, you’re going to go back to school, you’re going to have clothes, you’re going to live a good life, you’re going to have hobbies. I have hobbies now,” she said.
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