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Star file photo of San Marcos City Council Chamber. 

San Marcos City Council continued its discussion on how the city could better assist the local homeless population at its work session meeting on Oct. 4.

The council seeks to use funds from the American Rescue Plan to implement transitional housing efforts. Councilmembers have partnered with the San Marcos Local Homelessness Coalition and Texas State to create and complete a comprehensive needs assessment before allocating funds.

Director of Public Safety Chase Stapp and City Manager Bert Lumbreras led the discussion and presented similar homeless assistant programs in Austin, Houston and Dallas. The programs included were the Esperanza Community model, a 150-person sanctioned encampment in Austin; Functional Zero, a nationwide analytics-driven community approach; and The Mandy Chapman Semple, a homelessness prevention network in Dallas and Houston.

The council gravitated toward community-level approaches that utilize both nongovernment and government assets. Stapp pushed for funding to be specifically utilized and focused on the need assessment.

“This is a whole community problem that requires a whole community approach,” Stapp said. “Our local homeless coalition is relatively new, but they have a great deal of desire to get things done and to improve the lives of our unhoused neighbors.”

Built for Zero, a national community solutions movement, was presented to the council. The Built for Zero movement operates outside of local governments and calls local private and nonprofit organizations to communicate on collaborative solutions and distribution of resources. Stapp presented the model, which focuses on not pinpointing the majority of community responsibilities on a singular organization.

“The Built for Zero campaign is really designed to bring all of the social service and nongovernment organizations and government organizations that are wanting to help together and help coordinate their efforts,” Stapp said.

The needs assessment to determine the proper allocation of funds will be complete in about five months.

During the council’s regular meeting prior to the discussion, the council approved a speed limit reduction along the streets in the Forest Hills subdivision. The council also voted to receive counsel regarding the sale and regulation of single-use plastics in San Marcos.

The San Marcos City Council meets virtually at 6 p.m. every first and third Tuesday of each month. For more information, visit the City Council website.

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