Services for people experiencing homelessness are in overdrive this weekend, as the cold weather onslaught continues with temperatures on Saturday not expected to rise above freezing.
At least seven emergency shelters have opened across the city, with many offering hot meals and clothes.
Among them is Haven for Hope, the city’s largest shelter. The organization has opened emergency shelters in two buildings at the edge of their campus with no COVID-19 testing requirements. Social distancing and mask requirements are still in place.
“We have not ever, and will not ever, turn anyone away. We have plenty of space,” said Kenny Wilson, the organization’s CEO and president. Currently, 1,100 individuals are staying at Haven for Hope facilities, he said.
Haven is also offering cold weather clothing, warm jackets, and gloves.
People seeking shelter are asked to go to the organization’s intake office, located at 1 Haven for Hope Way, between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. After hours, people are asked to go to the campus’ east gate at the same location.
Those who want to enroll at the facility and stay permanently are required to take a COVID-19 test on campus. A bed is made available for them to stay while test results are pending. If the result is negative, they are welcome to stay in a dorm and avail themselves of the organization’s services. Those who test positive for COVID-19 are allowed transport to a hotel run by the City of San Antonio.
To get the word out, outreach teams have been driving through the city to find people who might be in need. As temperatures dropped last night, a few dozen individuals arrived at the shelter who staffers did not recognize, Wilson said.
Other shelters are available too.
“There’s been a lot of coordination all week,” said Billy Mahone, director of community engagement at the South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless, or SARAH, a continuum of care providers in the city. “It’s been a big group effort to get as many people indoors as possible.”
The group has been promoting on social media a resource list created by a partner organization, the Christian Assistance Ministry. That list is available here.
The City of San Antonio also operates a hotline to direct people experiencing homeless to relevant resources, at 210–207–1799. Its hours of operation are Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Outside of those hours, the hotline can be contacted by leaving a voicemail or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.