Haven for Hope expanding homeless outreach operations to Leon Valley and Balcones Heights

Bexar County approved $110,000 in federal COVID-10 relief funds for Haven to hire two outreach coordinators. In addition, Leon Valley provided $40,000.

SAN ANTONIO — Haven for Hope is one step closer to launching a new pilot program aimed at expanding homeless outreach efforts to Leon Valley and Balcones Heights.

On Tuesday, Bexar County commissioners greenlit $110,000 in federal COVID-19 relief funds to go toward Haven’s hiring of two outreach coordinators. In addition, Leon Valley committed $40,000 for the initiative.  

“We want our unsheltered neighbors to know there are resources available to help them,” said Terri Behling, Haven for Hope director of communications. “We will be advertising for those outreach workers, get them trained up and hopefully get them out there as soon as possible.” 

The concept of the pilot program was approved in the winter. Now the contract is finalized.

Haven for Hope, the San Antonio area’s largest shelter and provider of homeless resources, continues to operate over capacity. 

Homelessness among sheltered and unsheltered individuals is up nearly 7% compared to last year across San Antonio and Bexar County, according to data from the Point-in-Time Count conducted in January. Families with children made up 18% of the total count. At the same time, 73% of the homeless population is sheltered. 

Haven for Hope has coordinated with community partners including the City of Leon Valley as it relates on addressing a growing presence of homeless people in the northwestern San Antonio enclave. 

Last year, the City of Leon Valley passed an ordinance that prohibits camping, sleeping in public parks, recreational spaces and drainage ditches. 

The ordinance, which was deemed abusive by some opponents, also states a person cannot stand in a traffic median unless they are crossing the street.

Behling stressed Haven for Hope’s outreach operations aren’t limited to San Antonio city limits, as they work with a coalition of organizations and governments to offer resources and shelter to the homeless community. 

“It’s not as concentrated in downtown San Antonio. Some of that could be people are comfortable in their community. They come across hard times and they stay in their community. Or it could be people are moving from the downtown area into other parts of unincorporated Bexar County,” Behling said. 

Bexar County Judge Peter Sakai and Precinct 2 Commissioner Justin Rodriguez have been advocating for the development of the pilot program. Rodriguez noted while the initial emphasis is on Leon Valley, there’s are intentions to expand the initiative to some of the two dozen suburban communities across Bexar County. 

“Make sure they’re covering people in and around Leon Valley, folks who may not know about resources there that are provided at Haven who may be struggling with an alcohol or substance issue and just need somebody to help lift them up,” Rodriguez said. “These are issues and concerns that really have no boundaries. I think it’s just a matter about being good collaborators and making sure we’re helping our suburban cities.” 

Haven for Hope is now in the process of searching for two qualified candidates to join the team and serve as outreach workers in Leon Valley and Balcones Heights. 

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