Through a combination of municipal bond and federal funding, San Antonio and Bexar County are slated to allocate nearly $43 million toward housing for chronically homeless individuals.
San Antonio City Council will vote next Thursday on more than $31 million for three nearly shovel-ready projects that will provide 288 units of permanent supportive housing. Another roughly $11 million will be allocated through another competitive bidding process later this year, city officials said.
Permanent supportive housing is housing for chronically homeless individuals that does not come with preconditions — such as sobriety or medication — and is paired with support services such as mental and physical health care, food and case management.
“By linking housing affordability with the supportive services, we can lead to better outcomes for individuals,” said Veronica Garcia, director of the city’s housing department. “This also helps reduce the costs” associated with caring for the unhoused population, such as emergency room visits and law enforcement.”
“I look at an investment like this not just as an investment in raw housing,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said. “It’s an investment in public safety, it’s an investment in our quality of life, it’s an investment in our community wellness and health.”
After reviewing five applications, a scoring committee comprised of city, county and other agency stakeholders recommended three projects to receive funding.
Housing First Community Coalition is slated to receive $12 million for the second phase of its Towne Twin Village campus on the East Side, which is San Antonio’s first single-site permanent supportive housing project. SAMMinistries would receive $4.25 million to renovate The Hudson Apartments on the North Side and $15 million for The Commons at Acequia Trails on the Southeast side. The Hudson and Commons at Acequia will also be single-site permanent supportive housing, meaning services are co-located with housing.
SAMMinistries has operated scattered-site permanent supportive housing for more than a decade and has about 185 units in its inventory, said President and CEO Nikisha Baker.
“We have to invest in permanent supportive housing in our community — scattered-site or single-site,” Baker said, “but single-site makes it easier for the individuals who are most vulnerable to connect with the resources without having to travel. That can be all the difference.”
The most recent one-night survey of sheltered and unsheltered individuals showed a 77% increase in the chronically homeless population in San Antonio, meaning they have been homeless for a year and have a disabling condition, which can include a substance abuse disorder, serious mental illness, developmental disability or chronic physical illness or disability.
“This is the solution to addressing that issue,” Baker said. “This is a step in the right direction towards the compassion and the equity and inclusiveness that San Antonio is, candidly, known for. … It is important for us as community partners to walk with our neighbors along this pathway [and] for all of us to be patient as these projects come about and come to fruition.”
A study performed by the San Antonio chapter of Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC), a housing funder that consults for the city, demonstrated the need for 1,000 more units of this type. The city has incorporated that number in its 10-year affordable housing plan.
The $43 million directed towards permanent supportive housing comes from a variety of sources: $25 million from the city’s voter-approved 2022 housing bond, $10.5 million from federal grants to the city, and more than $9 million from federal grants to the county.