City leases downtown hotel for ‘low-barrier’ homeless shelter




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In an effort to help homeless San Antonians find permanent housing, City Council voted Thursday to lease a downtown hotel to serve as shelter and provide wraparound services there. 

The city is partnering with nonprofit SAMMinistries to establish a one-year pilot program that will take in people who need shelter and connect them with service and health care providers as needed.

On Thursday, City Council approved a $1.17 million lease agreement to rent out the Days Inn at 902 E. Houston St.; SAMMinistries, which works to prevent homelessness, will operate the hotel as a shelter in a $1.73 million contract with the city, bringing the total pilot program price tag to $2.9 million. SAMMinistries plans to fill 45 of the rooms with residents, while the remaining handful will serve as administrative offices onsite.

Human Services Director Melody Woosley told City Council members that she anticipates 250 people will be served over the course of the year-long pilot program. Of those, SAMMinistries projects that 40% will ultimately move into permanent housing, she said.

Those numbers are based on the organization’s current test program located in a La Quinta hotel downtown: in the past 60 days, 15 people have gone through that program and eight are still housed with them. Three have found employment and four are in permanent housing, SAMMinistries President and CEO Nikisha Baker said.

Baker added that people entering the pilot program are being referred by street outreach teams and will not be accepted on a walk-in basis. SAMMinistries will be targeting more vulnerable homeless people, meaning those who also deal with substance abuse or mental health issues. In order to make the shelter more accessible and “low-barrier,” they will not require sobriety to stay there, though alcohol and drugs are not permitted onsite, Baker said.


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