San Antonio/ Politics & Govt
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Published on June 16, 2024
San Antonio Housing Advocates Rally Against Firing of Opportunity Home CEO Amid Public Housing TurmoilSource: Google Street View

In a collective display of dissent, local housing advocates rallied before San Antonio's city hall, voicing vehement objection to the recent dismissal of Ed Hinojosa, the CEO of Opportunity Home. According to KENS 5, protestors, including District 5 Councilwoman Terri Castillo, congregated Wednesday to challenge the board's unanimous decision — a board appointed by Mayor Ron Nirenberg. Castillo, found amongst the crowd, asserted that "Public housing is the last thing that keeps people off the streets."

The board's decision to terminate Hinojosa came under fire by advocates who cited a recent incident where over 600 families living in public housing were issued notices to vacate, a move the protestors claim was leveraged to force Hinojosa out. "You fire Ed Hinojosa because Ed Hinojosa is trying to protect public housing," stated Leticia Sanchez of the Historic West Side Business Association, a claim supported by individuals gathered at the protest. Within the turmoil, Michael Reyes, previously the public affairs officer for Opportunity Home, had assumed the role of acting CEO and swiftly pulled back all vacate notices, as per Express News.

Mayor Nirenberg stood by the board's resolution, expressing his endorsement for the board's "unanimous decision and renewed direction," aiming to improve housing conditions and resident welfare. His commitment to the "Strategic Housing Implementation Plan" remains unwaivered, as he believes it will provide citizens with decent, attainable housing options.

Reyes, with a background that includes a stint at Southern Methodist University and Georgetown, along with experience in the U.S. House of Representatives, has inherited the leadership challenges of an organization in the thrall of a housing crisis. The board expects him to take "immediate bold action to safeguard our families and find creative solutions to the challenges the organization is facing." Yet, submerged in a city with over 110,000 individuals on public housing waiting lists, the advocate's murmurings point to systemic neglect not pinned on Hinojosa's tenure but stretching back to forerunners, according to those who have now thrown their support behind the dethroned executive.

In the wake of turbulent policy decisions, Opportunity Home strives to shore up its commitment to residents, announcing that pending, eligible Notices to Vacate (NTV) will be rescinded. Additionally, the organization plans to extend its repayment policy, doubling the limit of arrears balances up to $6,000 for pandemic-affected households. "We must do all we can to protect our vulnerable households, particularly those who are still reeling from the effects of the pandemic," Reyes explained. This initiative is directed to secure the living arrangements of more than 80% of affected NTV households, signaling a pivot in operational strategy that seeks to mend the recent societal ruptures sparked by unexpected evictions.