San Antonio's Homeless Population Dropped Ever-So-Slightly in 2016

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WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
The number of homeless San Antonians has remained relatively unchanged over the past year, according to new data.

In January, volunteers counted a total of 2,743 homeless people living both on the streets and in shelters on a single evening. In January 2016, that number was only 38 people fewer. At same time, however, the population of Bexar county grew by the tens of thousands.

For Katie Vela, a program manger with San Antonio Regional Alliance for the Homeless (SARAH), stability is a good sign. But she's hopeful for a bigger drop by 2018, after SARAH rolls out new a housing program for the chronically homeless — a population that increased 6 percent in the last year.

"It's a population that usually has dealt with mental health or addiction issues for years," Vela told the Current. Which means they often have a harder time following typical tenant rules — leaving them in a cycle of eviction.

"Our goal is to lower as many barriers as possible for them," Vela said. "We need to meet people where they are."

The data also found a 12 percent decrease in homeless veterans in San Antonio, keeping up with the city's concerted effort to house all vets, and a 11 percent dip in homeless youth, a number that Vela is hesitant to trust.

"We've found that a ton of homeless youth couch surf with friends and family, making it hard to get a solid number," she said. "Data on homelessness is always going to be tricky."

This annual tally, conducted by SARAH, is part of a federal point in-time count required for any community that receives certain U.S. Housing and Urban Development funding. HUD has yet to release the federal totals of 2017.

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