As Registry Week Ends, Work of Housing San Antonio’s Homeless Begins

Compelling Data Emerges as +100 Volunteers Complete 441 Surveys of Local Homeless

SAN ANTONIO (June 13, 2014) — Over 100 volunteers took to the streets of San Antonio this week to compile a by-name and photo detailed registry of the region’s homeless. Participants in San Antonio Registry Week, a local partnership with the national 100,000 Homes Campaign, and national veteran campaign Got Your 6, surveyed 441 homeless individuals on San Antonio streets, identifying more than 40 percent of them as medically vulnerable and at increased risk of death.

Two individuals will be moved into permanent housing by week’s end, and organizers have already identified housing resources for at least 100 more, including many veterans.

“Registry Week has been an overwhelming success,” said local Campaign coordinator Rachel Cavazos, Director of Community Initiatives for the Housing Authority of Bexar County. “This level of collaboration among service providers, businesses, government officials and local volunteers feels new. It’s a huge testament to the determination of so many who work with our homeless neighbors. I’ve never been so hopeful that we can end homelessness in San Antonio.”

Volunteers gathered data using the Vulnerability Index, a 34-item questionnaire developed by the 100,000 Homes Campaign. Volunteer teams captured data on health status, institutional history (jail, prison, hospital, and military), length of homelessness, patterns of shelter or mission use, and previous housing situations. In the coming months, local housing and service providers will use this data to identify the most vulnerable members of the region’s homeless population and prioritize them for permanent housing. This housing-based approach is a proven strategy for ending homelessness, and exhaustive studies confirm that it saves taxpayer significant money when compared with leaving the homeless on the streets.

The Vulnerability Index is based on research by Dr. Jim O’Connell of Harvard University, which shows that certain medical conditions place homeless individuals at much higher risk of death than members of the general population facing identical conditions.

179 homeless individuals in San Antonio qualified as vulnerable by this standard. Of these, 31 are veterans, comprising over 50 percent of all homeless veterans surveyed. Among the total surveyed homeless population (441), 15 are over 65 years of age, 45 are under 25 years of age, 28 suffer from cancer, and 146 report being the victim of a violent attack since becoming homeless. Local homeless residents have spent an average of 3.7 years on the street. Among those listed as medically vulnerable, that number jumps to 5.75 years.

“San Antonio’s results are startling, but they’re not unusual,” said Becky Kanis, Director of the 100,000 Homes Campaign. “We have a long tradition in this country of managing homelessness instead of ending it. This event is a first step toward creating a new future in which a lifetime of homelessness doesn’t have to happen to people anymore, but we have to get serious about permanent housing.”

“I’m proud to support this effort, especially because it offers hope to so many of our veterans,” said Alfred A. Valenzuela, Haven for Hope board member and Army combat veteran, and a board member of Haven for Hope  “As a retired General born and raised in this military city, I have a long love affair with both the military and this community. The joining of forces between the military and the community offers a tremendous bridge toward helping our veterans make contributions to San Antonio and vice-versa. No American should ever wear the uniform of this country and return home to a life on the streets.”

See below for a detailed breakdown of all demographic data compiled over the course of San Antonio Registry Week:

 KEY REGISTRY DATA POINTS:

Results

  • 441 individuals experiencing street homelessness were identified and surveyed in San Antonio, including campsites.
  • 179 (40.5%) were found to have health conditions associated with a high mortality risk.
  • More than 100 community volunteers helped administer the surveys.

 Vulnerability Indicators

Indicator Number
At-Risk Tri-Morbid 95 (21.5%)
At-Risk ER or Hospitalized Over 3X 85 (19.3%)
At-Risk ER over 3X 75 (17%)
At-Risk Age Over 60 44 (10%)
At-Risk HIV/AIDS 8 (1.6%)
At-Risk Liver Disease 48 (10.9%)
At-Risk Kidney Disease 21 (4.8%)
At-Risk Cold/Wet Weather Injury 61 (13.8%)

Cancer

  • 28 (6.34%) report a current cancer diagnosis.

Older Adults

  • 87 (19.7%) are over 55 years old. Average age for all surveyed is 44.5 years.
  • The oldest respondent was 90 years old.
  • The longest reported length of homelessness was 36 years.

Number of Years Homeless

  • The average years homeless for the vulnerable population is 5.75 years.
  • The average years homeless for the Non-Vulnerable population is 2.4 years.

Service Needs

  •   145 (33%) people reported a dual diagnosis of mental illness and substance abuse.
  •   282 (64%) people reported a history of substance abuse.
  • 202 (45.8%) of respondents report at least one mental health issue.

Veterans 60 (14%) surveyed were Veterans.

  •   40 (67%) were honorably discharged.
  •   31 (51.7%) Veterans met criteria for “Vulnerable.”

Youth & Foster Care

  •  61 (13.8%) respondents report having a history of foster care.
  •  45 (10.2%) respondents were under 25 years old.
  • The youngest respondent was 18 years old.

Inpatient Hospitalizations

  • A total of 416 inpatient hospitalizations were reported in the past year at an average annual cost of $608,192. This assumes 1 day per hospitalization at cost of $1,462 per day (Kaiser Fam, 2010).

Emergency Room Visits

  • A total of 579 ER visits were reported by all respondents in the last 3 months for an annual cost of $1,158,000. This assumes $500 cost per ER visit.

Health System Impacts

  • 246 (55.7%) report having no form of health insurance whatsoever.
  • In the last year, 235 of those surveyed accrued estimated healthcare costs of $1,766,192 in taxpayer-funded emergency and inpatient medical care.

Violence

  • 146 (33%) report being a victim of a violent attack since becoming homeless.

 100,000 Homes San Antonio is a local collaboration to end homelessness among chronic and medically vulnerable San Antonio residents. The initiative is led by the Housing Authority of Bexar County in collaboration with a host of local government and non-profit agencies as part of the national 100,000 Homes Campaign. The national campaign is a project of the NYC-based non-profit organization, Community Solutions. Learn more at www.100khomes.org.

 San Antonio Registry Week was sponsored by Wells Fargo and Got Your 6, a 100,000 Homes partner dedicated to supporting America’s veterans and helping the public to see them as the leaders and civic assets that they are. Learn more at www.gotyour6.org.