Haven for Hope, Landlords Partner on Homelessness

Haven for Hope
Haven for Hope | Image by Haven for Hope/Facebook

San Antonio’s Haven for Hope has joined with local landlords to provide temporary solutions for homelessness by putting its clients in unused properties.

The homeless services nonprofit is working to host open houses to encourage more landlords to allow homeless individuals to stay in their vacant rentals and apartment units.

“It’s so important for us to break the stigma of homelessness [and] recruit new landlords,” said David Huete, Haven for Hope’s vice president of Transformational Services, in an interview with the San Antonio Report. “We want to … bring landlords in to understand what our clients are facing, but also [showcase] what resources are available to them and to their future tenants.”

The project has resulted in a decrease in the number of unhoused families and individuals in San Antonio. Haven for Hope reported that in December 2023, there were 70 families in the shelter. By partnering with landlords, the organization was purportedly able to drop that number to 40. The organization’s stated goal was to house 90 families in 90 days. While it fell short, it ultimately housed 77 families by March 1, including many who were living on the streets.

“The community has done an incredible job of speeding up the process for families to get [housing] vouchers,” Katie Vela Wilson, executive director of Close to Home, said to the San Antonio Report, crediting Opportunity Home, the city’s housing authority, and the Housing Authority of Bexar County for providing voucher appointments at emergency shelters to simplify the application process.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, Haven for Hope is a non-profit organization that provides homeless services like drug counseling, job training, and transitional housing, all on a single campus. Its “one-stop-shop” model has been credited with reducing unsheltered homelessness in San Antonio’s downtown area by 77%.

Haven for Hope said it intends to continue trying to inspire landlords to provide housing for the homeless. By connecting landlords with financial incentives, Haven for Hope can directly address some of the obstacles some homeless people face trying to secure housing. Among the most difficult challenges has been convincing landlords that homeless individuals are not undesirable tenants.

“Our neighbors who have moved out of homelessness don’t create or cause any more issues in the community than the general population,” Wilson said. “With time, there’ll be less fear of the unknown of what it means to work with people moving out of homelessness, and I think people will feel good that they’re making a difference in the community.”

Meanwhile, the number of homeless people and vagrants in Dallas declined slightly last year but remains high. The most recent point-in-time count identified 4,244 individuals. The City of Dallas reported that the count represented a 14% decrease since 2022.

The City of Dallas has not yet experimented with the “one-stop-shop” model employed by Haven for Hope despite the strategy polling favorably among residents. Some local stakeholders are looking to bring the model to Dallas, but it remains to be seen whether City officials will embrace the approach.

Meanwhile, some 75% of Dallas residents believe homelessness, vagrancy, and panhandling continue to be “major” problems throughout the city.

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