This week, I saw one of those new coin-operated "donation stations" ostensibly designed to help the homeless in San Antonio. Our City Council approved some 25 decommissioned parking meters to serve as donation repositories to benefit programs at Haven for Hope. Haven for Hope, which just celebrated its somewhat rocky first year, is the 37-acre "transformational center for the homeless" just west of downtown.
These donation stations are supposed to discourage people, aka tourists, from giving directly to panhandlers, thus discouraging panhandlers from being on downtown streets. This, in turn, does not necessarily mean the homeless are leaving the streets and heading off to Haven for Hope to be transformed.
These meters irk me in a couple of ways:
The campus of Haven for Hope includes, among its numerous agencies, long-time homeless assistance nonprofits such as SAMMinistries, San Antonio Christian Dental Clinic, and I Care San Antonio. Funding for Haven, Inc., the umbrella agency, is provided by city, state, and federal funds, corporations, foundations, and private donations. All of the agencies on the campus DO NOT benefit from any monies raised for Haven, Inc., like from the parking meters. All of the nonprofits housed at Haven have seen an increase in client loads and must support their programs through their own fundraising. Remember this if you have a particular nonprofit on the campus you wish to support.
Haven for Hope is not, by far, the only place in town assisting the homeless. So why do they get meters on the downtown streets? The following are just a few of the other agencies, found on the Homeless Shelter Director
website, who are helping individuals and families with the many complicated aspects of homelessness.
Salvation Army Family Shelter
515 W. Elmira
Phone Number: (210) 352-2000
Description: Provides emergency shelter for women and single parents with children and intact families. Provides intake assessment, daily case management, parenting and life skills, and a clean facility with launderette. Shelter for 10 days, 3 meals a day.
San Antonio Rescue Mission
907 E. Quincy
Phone Number: 210-222-9736
Description: Emergency shelter for men community food pantry prepared meals served. Provides food, clothing and lodging for males only. Clients wake up at 5:30 a.m., eat breakfast and must leave premises by 6:00 a.m. Must attend nightly chapel services.
1223 S. Trinity
Phone Number: 210-476-0707
Description: Transitional housing for homeless women pregnant women w/ children less than 1yr. old.
Family Violence Protection Services
Phone Number: 210-930-3669
Description: Transitional long term temporary emergency housing for victims of domestic violence. Other services include legal advocacy, educational resources, counseling and medical assistance.
I plan to continue to give to panhandlers when the mood strikes. I believe when I'm called to give, it is my business. And, as soon as I give a gift to another person, it is not in my purview to judge its use.
Funding issues between Haven, Inc. and its partners seems like a complicated and sticky matter to me. I’d really like to know what you think.
For more from Laura Carter follow @lauracarter or visit A Small Blog