Over the last seven years, Dr. Katherine Dillard Gonzalez has focused the consulting efforts on systemic strategies related to the intersection of homelessness, behavioral health, housing, and community development. The results of this work are documented in her dissertation submitted to The New School for completion of her doctoral degree.
We share this work with the hope that your community can engage in systems-level conversations to drive positive change for all residents.
This is the complete dissertation entitled Systemic Strategies to Address Homelessness: A Situation Analysis of the Response in San Antonio, Texas.
San Antonio Crisis Response System Overview
This one-page document is a graphic representation of the system developed in San Antonio over a 20-year time frame. The details of the response system are described in Chapter 4 of the dissertation.
The study of homelessness is vast and dispersed throughout many disciplines seeking understanding through the lens of the human condition, the intersection of experiences, shifting trends over time, and the individual, as well as systemic causes for the persistence of homelessness. The purpose of this research is to conduct a situation analysis related to systemic strategies to address homelessness. Rather than focus on the individual, this research sought to identify the institutional relationships and dynamics needed to address homelessness as a system.
A community that implemented a system-based approach is in San Antonio, Texas, located in the south-central area of the state with a population over 1.3 million people. Between 2000–2020, leaders across the community worked together to address systemic issues related to mental illness, substance use disorder, and homelessness.
In 2005, San Antonio welcomed 35,000 evacuees after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita destroyed entire communities in the Gulf Coast region. As they learned how to manage the shelter system for their neighbors, it led several leaders to acknowledge that they could take what they learned and implement a new solution to homelessness for members of their own community.
San Antonio leveraged their local response after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, with the creation of Haven for Hope. On the surface, Haven for Hope is a homeless services provider on a 37-acre campus comprised of 15 buildings with the capacity to serve 1,700 people. But under the surface, the Haven for Hope campus became a community catalyst for collective innovation and system change to bridge the areas of housing, homelessness, health care, mental health, substance use disorders, the criminal justice system, county courts, the emergency response system, and law enforcement.