Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Southern hospitality? Bless your heart

Sofia Meija

The Texas Homeless Network reports that as of Feb. 15, an estimated 77,723 people experienced homelessness in 2023, an increase of over 12% from 2022. As of Jan. 2024, over 26,000 people in Texas were registered as unhoused, with Dallas having the highest percentage of unhoused people. 

These numbers are not getting smaller, and are especially shocking at a time when the state is booming in terms of new house construction, leading the country with nearly a quarter of all homes built in the years since 2010. The problem — from a moral standpoint — is that Texas’ corporations are not building these homes with Texas’ most unfortunate citizens in mind, but rather with the influx of wealthy migrants moving into the state. 

The entire country is witnessing a critical rise in the number of unhoused people, both with access to shelter and not. Urban centers, in particular, have their streets lined with people and even families, unable to afford a permanent dwelling. Texas is facing a crisis in the rising number of unhoused people and the state, both its government and citizens, are not doing enough to combat it.

Governor Greg Abbott signed HB 1925 in 2021, making homeless encampments in public areas without consent unlawful under pain of up to $500 in fines. In Austin, Proposition B targets unhoused in and near the downtown area and near UT’s campus, also under threat of a fine. On paper, it is not illegal to be unhoused in Texas; however, widespread criminalization acts target the population mercilessly, making it more and more difficult to simply exist as an unhoused person without fear of fines or jail time. 

These bills are a pathetic attempt by politicians to “clean up” their cities and make them look nice without actually addressing the issues that lead to people living in their streets. And for regular citizens who are not interested in educating themselves, these legal measures work just fine. A society cannot function, much less thrive, under these ill-thought-out conditions.

Unhoused people face many dangers, from health problems to proximity to violence. It is easy for privileged people to look down on the unhoused, acting downright cruel and often judging the way they are forced to live their lives. It is critical that the people of Texas work on their compassion and empathy in the face of this crisis, as opposed to supporting politicians who put people in jail because they make their parks look “bad” by revealing the truth of the state’s circumstances. People want to close their eyes to the misfortunes of others, even when they are right next to them. 

It is also important to note that a considerable percentage of Texas’ unhoused are military veterans who gave their health and bodies to their country and, at minimum, deserve a roof over their head in return. 

People in San Antonio can support the fight against homelessness in Texas by donating to city and non-profit organizations dedicated to supporting the homeless, volunteering at shelters or soup kitchens and checking out the “Get Involved” websites from the city and the Texas Homeless Network.

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About the Contributors
Marcela Montufar Soria
Marcela Montufar Soria, Multimedia Editor
Marcela (She/Her/Ella) is an Honors College History and Classical Studies and Humanities major with a concentration in Religious Studies and a minor in East Asian Studies. She is an international student from Mexico and is the fourth member of her family to be a student at UTSA. After graduation, she plans to pursue a graduate education in Chinese history. Outside of school, Marcela volunteers at the Witte Museum as a gallery attendant during the weekends. Her hobbies include violin playing, amateur stargazing, video editing, writing, reading non-fiction, and painting. She joined the Paisano in Fall 2021, became Assistant Multimedia Editor in Spring 2022, and became Multimedia Editor in Spring 2023.
Sofia Meija
Sofia Meija, Graphic Artist
Sofia (she/her) is a 3rd year Marketing major with a minor in Film Studies. She is passionate about creating creative SFX makeup, film and fashion. Her hobbies include painting, playing with her dogs, baking, cosplaying and arts & crafts. Outside of school, she works at Thirteen Floors as a makeup artist. She joined the Paisano in Spring 2023.

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