SAN ANTONIO – A longtime resident of San Antonio’s Deco neighborhood says the constant presence of a homeless camp in the alley behind his house is having a negative impact on his daily life.
“I can literally hear them talking about cocaine, weed and ‘how much do you want?’ I can hear it right through my wall. And fights happen. Loud fights on 911,” said Ruben Garcia, who lives in the 1600 block of W. Rosewood Avenue, near Fredericksburg Road. and W. Hildebrand Ave.
San Antonio police records obtained by KSAT Investigates show that since March 2021, officers have responded to the property 19 times in connection with incidents, including riots, thefts and gunshots.
Following a complaint filed with the District 1 City Council Office in March, employees visited the site.
The San Antonio Department of Human Services also traveled to the site as part of an “advocacy” effort, District 1 communications director Carsen Maldonado said in an email.
However, when KSAT visited the site a few weeks later, the camp was still there.
“They offered them a place to stay and they refused. And they just said ‘okay’ and left, leaving them there,” Garcia said.
He said that the large wall bordering the north side of the lane should be demolished, and suggested that a one-block-long strip of land be paved.
“It will take away their shelter. They won’t have that anymore,” Garcia said.
But officials say the problem is more complex than just pushing a homeless person out of where he is now.
A town hall hosted by District 8 City Councilman Manny Pelaez earlier this spring showed that homelessness is a complex circumstance that now extends well beyond downtown San Antonio and surrounding areas.
“This is a human tragedy. At the same time, I have areas that are getting more and more worried because they are seeing more and more homeless people,” Pelaez told KSAT moments before the start of the event, which took place in front of a crowded hall of residents.
“We have a crisis on our hands that needs to be spoken about in the most honest and rude terms,” Pelaez said.
He said post-COVID inflation is driving people out of the housing market and that officials are seeing more homeless families as the profile of San Antonio residents experiencing homelessness continues to change.
Pelaez refrained from saying that there was a direct link between rising homelessness and rising crime rates, stating that a more accurate description would be to call it a “link”.
The City of San Antonio is offering an alternative donation method for residents who want to “compassionately donate to organizations that serve the homeless instead of donating to people on the streets.”
Residents can text SAGIVES to 41444.
Funds raised go towards a range of services, including family reunification efforts, transportation to shelters and meetings, mental health and medical services, and assistance with housing fees.
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