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San Antonio is addressing the removal of unhoused camps

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In June 2023, San Antonio residents identified “Homeless Outreach and Encampments” as their top concern in the citywide Budget Priorities Survey for fiscal year 2024. Last September, City Council and the mayor approved more outreach coordinators, additional low-barrier shelter space, and allocated $500,000 for encampment abatements.

Cleaning up unhoused encampments would happen within two weeks of city notification according to City Manager Erik Walsh. Residents can call 311, the city services hotline, to report an encampment. City officials also said there would be outreach efforts connecting people experiencing homelessness to services and housing at the encampment clean-ups.

District 7 Councilwoman Marina Alderete Gavito’s Council Consideration Request (CCR) to prioritize unsheltered outreach and abatements was recommended by the Governance Committee to be brought to the full City Council for a briefing in April.

“The abatement budget was passed by City Council, and I’m making a recommendation on where to spend it,” District 7 Councilwoman Marina Alderete Gavito said. “We need to set expectations that these are areas we must prioritize on behalf of our neighborhoods: In residential neighborhoods, near schools, in parks, and in drainage ditches.

“At many neighborhood association meetings, residents continuously share concerns about the urban encampments in their neighborhoods. Treating the unsheltered population with compassion and connecting them to care should be a priority, but if we do not act now, the level of frustration will reach a tipping point where that compassion erodes.

“Chronically unsheltered individuals are not receiving the resources and support they need in an alleyway or a drainage ditch. The accumulation of debris in these locations poses a health and safety risk to our most vulnerable residents and the environment, along with posing a life-safety risk to the unsheltered population.”

The city prioritizes encampment sweeps near schools, neighborhoods and drainage infrastructure.


Marina Alderete Gavito is the San Antonio District 7 city councilmember.

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*This interview will be recorded on Wednesday, March 27, 2024.

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David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi