As advocates prepare to break ground on a permanent Eastside housing project for homeless seniors, Bexar County commissioners asked staff to find funding sources to cover the $4 million in remaining construction costs.

The Housing First Community Coalition requested financial assistance from county commissioners at their Tuesday meeting. Coalition director Dr. Chris Plauche explained that the project has nearly $8 million committed to the first phase of the project, which includes the construction of 42 500-square-foot homes, 25 RVs, an interfaith chapel, and a pavilion that allows people to wait for their bus. The project is located on Dietrich Road between WW White Road and Loop 410.

If Bexar County commits $4 million, that would cover the entirety of the first phase’s $11.9 million construction costs, Plauche said. Sisters of the Holy Spirit and Catholic Worker House both pledged money, and the coalition received financial commitments from Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) funding and the San Antonio Housing Trust.

Commissioner Tommy Calvert (Pct. 4) praised the coalition for their work in creating a new resource for homeless residents. Once completed, the project – dubbed the Towne Twin Village – will have classrooms, community kitchens, case management, and health clinics on site.

“It’s very difficult for all of our care providers to have to go all around town or for the individuals to have to go all around town to provide or to get services,” Calvert said. “So … this is a great thing for our community.” 

Ultimately, the coalition plans to have 205 affordable housing units built in Towne Twin Village to provide permanent housing and support for chronically homeless seniors, Plauche said.

“There’s a severe shortage of [permanent supportive housing] in San Antonio,” she said. “San Antonio has 888 units compared to, let’s say, Fort Worth that is almost half of the size of San Antonio. And Fort Worth has 2,000 units … So we’re way behind.”

The Towne Twin Village will officially break ground on May 12. The county manager’s office will return with suggested sources to provide $4 million to the housing project at a later date.

During their Tuesday meeting, commissioners approved a 6-year 40% tax abatement for a Weston Urban project located at a current downtown parking lot. The lot at 305 Soledad St. will hold a 32-story building with 351 apartment units and 465 spaces of structured parking. They also approved another 64,251 of detention deputy overtime hours between March 13 and June 11, costing about $2.6 million. Commissioner Trish DeBerry (Pct. 3) questioned why the overtime pay commissioners previously approved was not enough to carry through April 9 as originally planned.

“My digging into this is really about looking at efficiencies, how we save money, how we quit throwing good money after [a bad situation],” she said. 

Sheriff Javier Salazar explained that his department’s forecast for future overtime hours should be more accurate, as recruiting efforts have led to “95 folks in the pipeline ready to start.” As of April 15, there were 230 deputy positions waiting to be filled at the Bexar County Adult Detention Center.

“Our actual vacancies are down to 137 – true vacancies without a cadet or recruit in them,” Salazar said. 

He added that the $2,000 signing bonuses commissioners approved in March had attracted between 25 to 30 new recruits.

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Jackie Wang

Jackie Wang covered local government for the San Antonio Report.