San Antonio's homeless population is poised to grow slightly, thanks to New York City.
More than 12,000 homeless New Yorkers are being relocated to about 370 cities around the country. San Antonio is expected to receive several people from New York, all of who are getting a year's worth of rent and money for furnishings, courtesy of NYC.
"The reason that they're encouraging people to leave these major metropolitan areas where there is no affordable housing is because maybe in other areas such as San Antonio, they will be able to afford housing," says Brenda Mascorro, executive director of the South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless.
"I get the logic behind it. I don't agree with it," she says.
Other Texas cities receiving New York's homeless include Houston, Dallas, Austin.. and Helotes.
Local officials we contacted today were surprised to hear about New York's Special One-Time Assistance (SOTA) program.
Councilwomen Rebecca Viagran (District 3) admitted: "I hadn't heard of that. We’re going to ask our city manager to call their city manager to find out 'what are you all doing?' "
She said the timing could be ideal though.
"The National League of Cities is having their city summit in a couple of weeks here in San Antonio," she says. "We can ask other municipalities in other cities, 'what do you all think about it?' "
Where a homeless person comes from should not matter, according to John Chadwell, kitchen manager for Corazon Ministries. He was handing out box lunches to the homeless in Travis Park today.
"If they come from New York, or if they come form Detroit or where ever they’re going to come from, they’re going to be here, whether the city sponsors it or not. It's certainly less expensive here in San Antonio than it would be in New York. They have an opportunity to get back on their feet," he says.
Since the homeless families or individuals will have rent money, and perhaps a connection to someone locally, Chadwell thinks the outcome could be positive.
"If we look at them as people coming in here with some resources, maybe we can help them," he says.
While New York officials apparently did not communicate with city leaders in locales where the homeless are being sent, communication is vital to securing services for the new arrivals.
"My initial reaction is just making sure there is coordination," Mascorro says. "We've experienced similar situations in the past. And it's key for us to communicate and coordinate as a city to make sure we're all on the same page with next steps."
She says knowing what the homeless New Yorkers might need is critical to helping them when they arrive.
"We're talking about human beings, and everybody has different needs," she says. "There's so many factors why people become homeless.
"We should be looking at our rising rent costs in San Antonio too," she says.
New York's SOTA program actually began in 2017. Over 5,000 families have been relocated from New York, most to other cities in the East, although at least one homeless person was flown to Hawaii.
For more information on the program, click here.
To read about the costs New York City has incurred, or see which cities have received homeless people, click here.