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Old Parking Meters Help the San Antonio Homeless

Updated on January 4, 2014

San Antonio, Texas, turned old parking meters into donation stations for the homeless. Read more about this unique initiative and the Haven for Hope shelter.

Homeless does not mean hopeless.
Homeless does not mean hopeless. | Source

Can You Spare A Dime?

In August 2011, San Antonio, Texas, converted 25 old parking meters into coin donation stations. City leaders unveiled one during a ceremony held across the street from the historic Alamo.

The city aims to raise awareness about its homeless population by retooling the still-functioning city property. Funds collected by the downtown meters support homeless programs at Haven for Hope.

The large shelter houses up to 2,500 people each night. According to some estimates, nearly 4,500 San Antonio residents experience homelessness every night.

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 Downtown Operations director. “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 traditional meters with new solar-powered pay stations in the city's high-traffic areas. The new meters 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.

A map of Haven for Hope in San Antonio.
A map of Haven for Hope in San Antonio. | Source

Other Ways to Give

Haven for Hope

Haven for Hope strives to transform the lives of homeless adults and children. The non-profit center addresses the root causes of homelessness through education, job training, and behavioral health services.

Established in 2006, the shelter 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 support from 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 transition life plans. Prospects Courtyard provides safe outdoor lodging for overnight residents. It provides 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. Each campus area has 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 San Antonio's homeless population. The organization welcomes monetary donations and volunteer service. For details, call (210) 220-2190.

San Antonio offers help for the homeless.
San Antonio offers help for the homeless. | Source

San Antonio Homeless

As many as 25,000 San Antonio residents experience homelessness each year. Almost a quarter of them are children under age 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 all homeless residents 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.

The Homeless Experience

SPENT is an online challenge developed by McKinney Advertising Agency and Urban Ministries of Durham, North Carolina.

The innovative tool shows you how it feels to be unemployed, stripped of your savings, and homeless. It attempts to provide a realistic picture of poverty and homeless living.

YOU would never need help, right? Prove it. Go online now and accept the challenge. Then tell us about your experience in the comments.

Your Turn

What is your experience with homelessness? Leave a comment and join the discussion. If you enjoyed this article, please share it with your social networks.

Reference Sources

© 2011 Annette R. Smith


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    • Annette R. Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette R. Smith 

      6 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Hello, Susette. Haven for Hope has a job skills program to help the San Antonio homeless find employment and live independently. The organic school gardens you wrote about sound like a wonderful idea. What a great initiative it could be for the homeless in your city. I hope the project gets underway soon. Thanks so much for stopping by!

    • watergeek profile image


      6 years ago from Pasadena CA

      There used to be a number of homeless people hanging out at the Starbucks where I go. It's located next to the metro, so they would come from the shelter in LA to panhandle or just sit in the coffee shop and feel good for a little while. Unfortunately a few were violent sometimes, and many patrons felt uncomfortable with homeless people there anyway.

      The manager of that store got a wonderful idea that I'd like to see put into action somewhere. She said Starbucks donates money and volunteers to help set up organic school gardens. What if they would do the same with gardens for the homeless? Training homeless people to grow their own food would give them a new skill, a sense of purpose, and provide for their livelihood as well.

      I don't know where the project stands now. Last I heard she was trying to get a meeting with the city officials. And she doesn't work there anymore, so I can't follow up. Good hub!

    • Annette R. Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette R. Smith 

      7 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Nice meeting you, doodlebugs! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I do hope the parking meter initiative will have lasting benefits for the homeless community. It was a great idea.

    • doodlebugs profile image


      7 years ago from Southwest

      What a wonderful idea. Money donated via that means is more likely to have lasting benefits for the homeless, especially if it can be put toward programs that get them into shelters, work programs or public assistance.

    • Annette R. Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette R. Smith 

      7 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Hyphenbird, it's wonderful that you were able to work with others to find a home for that family. Two years ago, my husband and I spent Christmas Day serving dinner at a homeless shelter in the Fort Hood area. It was a truly remarkable experience.

    • Annette R. Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette R. Smith 

      7 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Danette, thank you for reading my article and sharing your comment. I so agree! Reusing the old parking meters was a wonderful, yet simple, idea.

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 

      7 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      What a great idea. The smallest changes can make great impacts. The situation with America's homeless is devastating and heart breaking. I feel so badly for them. Two summers ago a nonprofit I worked with helped a family of nine get into a home. They had been living in a tent.

      We must all look at this tragic issue and take action.

      Thanks for an inspiring, heart impacting Hub.

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 

      7 years ago from Illinois

      Homelessness is a big problem everywhere. This is a great idea that is simple and that people can do quickly. Interesting hub - thanks for sharing.


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