May 19, 2023 - News

Homeless families in Bexar County increase in latest count

Screenshot: South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless (SARAH), 2023 Point-in-Time Count: San Antonio/Bexar County Report

The number of Bexar County families experiencing homelessness has jumped 60% since 2021, per a new report, as pandemic-era eviction protections expired and housing costs soared.

  • The increase includes households with at least one child living in an emergency shelter, according to the region's new point-in-time count.

Yes, but: Other measures of homelessness showed improvement.

Driving the news: The overall number of homeless people in Bexar County is up about 5% from last year, but the number of people who are unsheltered decreased almost 16% from 2022, the report shows.

  • That means more people are living in shelters rather than on the street.
  • The point-in-time count was conducted in January and released Wednesday.

Context: The growth in overall homelessness over the past year follows the growth in Bexar County's population, Katie Vela, executive director of the South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless, tells Axios.

  • The city and other agencies have bolstered efforts to curb homelessness and increase affordable housing in recent years.
  • San Antonio launched a citywide street outreach program in 2020.

What they're saying: A lack of affordable housing drives homelessness, Vela says. People who are homeless said housing was their top need.

  • As families struggle to stay in their homes, they're sleeping in overflow spaces in shelters, Vela tells Axios.
  • "If you look at the increase in sheltered homelessness, what's really driving that is families with children," Vela says.

By the numbers: Chronic homelessness, when someone is homeless for a year or more and has a disabling condition, decreased by 33% from last year.

  • Black people are overrepresented in the homeless population, accounting for 21% of Bexar County's overall homeless count.
  • There was a 20% increase in people experiencing homelessness due to domestic violence.
  • In the 2023 count, 3,155 people in the county were experiencing homelessness. Of those, 874 were unsheltered and 2,281 were sheltered.

Zoom out: City officials are distributing funds from a $150 million affordable housing bond voters approved last year, the first of its kind in San Antonio.

  • The City Council approved funding for the first 14 affordable housing projects to benefit from the bond late last year.
  • Of the bond money, $25 million is set aside for housing with on-site support services intended to serve people leaving chronic homelessness. The City Council approved the first round of funding for those projects last month.
  • The funding "represents a commitment to align limited resources to address homelessness in our community," Mayor Ron Nirenberg said in a statement at the time. "I am optimistic we can reduce unsheltered and chronic homelessness in San Antonio."

What's next: The City Council is scheduled to vote June 8 on the next slate of developments to receive housing bond dollars.

  • It will take time to see the full impact of the housing bond.
  • "The housing bond was a critical step, but it's just a starting point," Vela says. "There needs to be so much more."

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