Old Parking Meters Help the San Antonio Homeless
Can You Spare A Dime?
In August 2011, the City of San Antonio converted 25 old parking meters into coin donation stations. The south Texas city aimed to raise awareness about its homeless population by retooling the still-functioning city property.
Funds collected by the downtown meters support the homeless programs at Haven for Hope, a large shelter that houses up to 2,500 people each night. According to some estimates, nearly 4,500 people experience homelessness in San Antonio every night.
City leaders unveiled one of the new donation stations during a special ceremony that was held across the street from the historic Alamo in downtown San Antonio.
An Easy Way to Donate
"This is an innovative way to reuse materials that still maintain functionality but have been replaced with technology,” said Paula Stallcup, the director for the city's Downtown Operations department. “We hope the new donation stations will be a convenient way to help support homeless programs in San Antonio.”
In May 2011, the city replaced several of its traditional parking meters with new solar-powered pay stations in the city's high-traffic areas. The new pay stations allow motorists to use credit and debit cards, as well as coins, to pay for parking.
Several agencies participated in the donation station initiative. The Downtown Operations Department, San Antonio Convention and Visitor's Bureau, Convention and Visitor's Commission, San Antonio Tourism Council, Downtown Alliance, Centro San Antonio, and Haven for Hope all took part in the project. Haven for Hope monitors the meters and collects the donations.
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Haven for Hope is dedicated to transforming the lives of homeless adults and children. The private, non-profit center addresses the root causes of homelessness through education, job training, and behavioral health services.
Established in 2006, Haven for Hope was built on the vision of San Antonio businessman and civic leader Bill Greehey. It is the largest and most comprehensive transformation campus for American homeless today.
With the support of several municipal leaders, Greehey studied more than 200 shelters in 12 states before building the San Antonio campus. It has 15 buildings on 37 acres, with two general areas.
The Main Campus provides living quarters for live-in residents who work on their transformation and transition life plans. The Prospects Courtyard provides safe, outdoor lodging for overnight residents. It includes meals, communal showers, and various human resources.
Haven for Hope takes a holistic approach to transformation, one that recognizes the connection between mind, body, and spirit. Both areas of the campus have a chapel with opportunities for ministry and service across a spectrum of faith traditions.
Nearly 80 non-profits and government agencies partner with Haven for Hope to meet the needs of the San Antonio homeless population. The organization welcomes monetary donations and volunteer service. For more details, call (210) 220-2190.
Homeless in San Antonio
As many as 25,000 San Antonian residents experience homelessness each year. Almost a quarter of them are children under the age of 5. Family homelessness has increased nearly 16 percent since 2008.
Known as "Military City, USA" for its large military presence, San Antonio is home to many American military veterans. Homeless veterans make up 23 percent of the city's homeless population. Sixty percent of the city's homeless struggle with severe mental illness or substance abuse.
Haven for Hope provides a safe haven for homeless men, women, and families. Space on the Main Campus is limited, and the family dorm usually has a waiting list. Prospect Courtyard is an outdoor safe area with sleeping mats, meals, communal showers, and basic medical needs. It is available for anyone who needs a place to stay.
Intakes for the main campus are done on a walk-in basis only. To speak with an intake specialist, call (210) 220-2350. For all other questions, call (210) 220-2100.
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Reference Sources / Further Reading
- City of San Antonio. (August 19, 2011) "Retired Downtown Parking Meters Converted Into Donation Stations to Support the City's Homeless Programs." City of San Antonio Communications Office. Retrieved August 27, 2011.
- Haven for Hope. (n.d.) "Facts About Haven for Hope and Homelessness." Haven For Hope: Transforming And Saving Lives. Retrieved August 27, 2011.
- Huddleston, Scott. (June 16, 2011) "Downtown Donation Stations Approved to Help Homeless." San Antonio Express-News: Retrieved August 27, 2011.
- Sniderman, Zachary. (February 18, 2011) "New Website Guides You Through the Homeless Experience." Mashable. Retrieved August 27, 2011.
- Urban Ministries of Durham. (n.d.) SPENT Homeless Game. Urban Ministries of Durham. Retrieved August 27, 2011.
Copyright © 2011. Annette R. Smith. All rights reserved.
Published: August 27, 2011 / Modified: May 17, 2013.
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