A downtown hub for homeless residents created during the lockdown days of the COVID-19 pandemic has a new, permanent home.

Corazón Day Center & Resource Hub opened its doors Monday at 504 Avenue E on the campus of Grace Lutheran church. Visitors will have access to a number of essential services such as hot meals, day center activities, outreach workers, recovery groups, and hot showers. 

Previously located at the San Fernando Gym, the day center was a product the city’s COVID-19 response. In April 2020, Corazón partnered with the city, Centro San Antonio, SAPD’s HOPE Team, Municipal Court staff, and others to operate a downtown resource hub for San Antonio’s homeless population. The facility provided unsheltered residents with vaccinations, masks, ID card replacements, clothing, hygiene items, and access to community resources. 

Developing the center amid the pandemic was difficult, said Morjoriee White, the city’s homeless administrator.

“Shelters had to close their intakes, pantries had closed, the city had shut down — there was nothing for those unsheltered in the community,” she said. “We had to be honest with what was working and what was not.”

The opening of the center marked a new chapter for these efforts. The new building has air conditioning and is situated much closer to other partner nonprofit resources. 

“[Clients] can receive different types of care at a much closer proximity than walking to the San Fernando hub,” said Gavin Rogers, executive director at Corazón. 

Joe Hernandez eats lunch at Café Corazón on Wednesday.
Joe Hernandez eats lunch at Café Corazón on Wednesday. Credit: Nick Wagner / San Antonio Report

The new location also provides an additional outreach workforce and a new option for homeless individuals. Many struggle with addiction, mental health, or physical problems all of which could prevent them from taking the first step to receive help. 

“You need a safe place to gain trust, comfort, [and the] feeling of building a relationship,” Rogers said. “So that for the clients that do struggle with choices at some locations, you can better work with them and get them to the right place. … We are unbiased in where we send our clients because we want them to succeed.”

The funding for the new center came from a large donation to Corazón, the city budget, county resources, and private grants. 

Corazón will still provide select services at the Travis Park Church, such as the Corazón Medical Clinic, Corazón Dermatology Clinic, The Alamo Street Choir, Wednesday Night Recovery Circle, and Sunday Morning Café. 

Previously known as Corazón Ministries, Corazón San Antonio has served the city’s homeless for more than two decades. In 2020, the nonprofit distributed more than 80,000 hot meals, provided medical care to thousands, and helped hundreds find temporary or permanent housing.

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Polina Protozanova

Polina is a Shiner Editorial Intern for the San Antonio Report.