San Antonio City Council approved a zoning change Thursday that will allow the Housing First Community Coalition to establish a 17-acre campus that will provide housing and support services for older homeless people.

The now-vacant property in the city’s East Side near Loop 410 will host RVs, tiny homes, and small apartments that will be added, likely in phases, over the next few years, coalition leaders have said.

Coalition Director Chris Plauche said the board chose to focus on older, chronically homeless individuals because they are usually the hardest lives to stabilize and a growing population

“The idea is to provide dignity for those last years of life,” Plauche said last month.

She is also the volunteer director of the Catholic Worker House, which provides a home and services during the day for homeless people in the near-East Side Dignowity Hill neighborhood. The nonprofit will relocate to the new tentatively-named Towne Twin Village campus once it’s completed. Other nonprofits will partner with the coalition to provide physical and mental health services, employment help, food, and more.

The coalition drew some inspiration from the 51-acre Community First! Village in Austin, which is operated by the outreach ministry Mobile Loaves and Fishes.

The campus will house 125 people at a time, but Plauche estimated hundreds more will use the day services there. An additional 25 units will be reserved for volunteers to support the community.

Councilwoman Jada Andrews-Sullivan (D2), whose district includes the East Side, praised the project.

“Every day, our field offices receive calls wondering, ‘When will you do something about the homeless population? What is your plan for the homeless?’” Andrews-Sullivan said in a news release. “This isn’t about forcing homeless people to relocate or hiding them away. It is about addressing the root cause of homelessness and making a transition back into the workforce a stronger reality.”

The San Antonio office of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) is working with the coalition to provide $5 million in low-interest loans toward the estimated $8 million cost of the campus. Plauche said fundraising efforts would kick off after the zoning approval.

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and mental health. She was the San Antonio Report's...