SAHA Winter Response

SAHA Winter Response

Fair Avenue Apartments is an independent living elderly public housing community in the city’s Southeast side. Like all SAHA elderly properties, Fair Ave. Apts is not an assisted living facility or nursing home. Residents handle their own personal care and needs, many own their own transportation, and live independently. In addition to providing a federal subsidy to pay a portion of the rent, SAHA also provides support services to supplement such as computer training, health/medical referrals, social activities, and assists with registering residents for food distributions with the City of San Antonio Senior Nutrition Program and San Antonio Food Bank.

During the winter storm, SAHA implemented an Emergency 4-Point Action Plan to include important support measures around the clock.

SAHA Emergency 4-Point Action Plan

  1. Providing emergency housing off-site for elderly and disabled residents without power or water.
  2. Providing food and water for elderly and disabled residents.
  3. Activating wellness checks to residents 
  4. Addressing and repairing emergency damages related to the storm

The winter storm affected all 60,000 SAHA residents and more than 500 SAHA staff members. 

SAHA worked with the City of San Antonio and Office of Emergency Management to assist elderly residents who experienced the longest time without power including Fair Avenue, George Cisneros, Lewis Chatham and Blanco Apartments.

While SAHA was managing the emergency response for about 100 residential communities throughout the city simultaneously, below are actions SAHA took at Fair Avenue Apartments specifically during the February 2021 winter storm:

Feb. 14
(First Day of the Storm)

SAHA staff stayed at Fair Ave. Apts overnight to ensure emergency work orders and building systems were operational

SAHA staff delivered portable heaters to residents who were most in need. The entire building has a built-in heating system and so the portable heaters were for additional heating. 

Feb. 15
SAHA staff were on-site at Fair Ave. Apts to ensure building systems were operational and wet floors remained dry to prevent injury.

Feb. 16
SAHA staff contacted all Fair Ave. residents to encourage them to stay at emergency housing established by COSA and SAHA at a downtown emergency hotel. SAHA contacted residents until 11 p.m. that evening. 

On-site SAHA staff at Fair Ave. Apts. handled emergency work orders and ensured building systems were operational despite lack of electricity and were on-site until 12 a.m. 

SAHA staff went door-to-door to offer transportation to the downtown emergency hotel and assisted in transporting interested residents to transportation arranged by the City. There was some confusion in the early evening as a community organizer arranged separate transportation through a county elected official but did not coordinate with the City nor SAHA. While we were grateful for the extra assistance, this caused confusion with accounting for the number of residents wanting to transfer to the downtown emergency housing. Moreover, the community organizer was not cognizant of the medication and other personal needs of residents. SAHA intervened and resolved those concerns and needs that evening and through the days following the storm. 

SAHA and City staff greeted residents at the downtown emergency hotel where the San Antonio Food Bank offered food and water. A SAHA employee spent the night with residents to address any personal needs they had overnight and the following morning. 

Some 60 Fair Ave. Apts residents were transferred by SAHA to the downtown emergency hotel, while the remaining residents opted to shelter-in-place or stay with family members. Many expressed fears of getting COVID-19 at the hotel or leaving their pets behind. 

Feb. 17
SAHA established an emergency office at the downtown emergency hotel to address residents’ personal care and medical needs. Many residents left their medicine behind at their home and so working closely with the San Antonio Fire Department, SAHA assisted residents with everything from insulin to dietary restrictions to oxygen needs. Also, at the request of some residents, SAHA traveled back to their homes to retrieve their medicines or other personal items. 

SAHA staff continued contacting Fair Ave. Apts residents to transfer to the downtown emergency hotel and distribute water and snacks provided by the San Antonio Food Bank. Additional residents were transferred to the hotel. 

Feb. 18
SAHA staff continued to contact Fair Ave. Apts residents to check on their well-being and deliver bottles of water. 

The front door, which operates on electricity, was fixed and returned to normal operation after it was damaged due to the rolling power outages three days earlier. During this time, residents had access to two other doors in the building in which to exit or accept visitors. 

Feb. 19
The outdoor temperatures warmed enough for the roads to clear and make transportation accessible again. Many food operators including the San Antonio Food Bank resumed full operations and were able to provide residents meals which were distributed by SAHA staff. 

Rebate Haus delivered 180 taco meals directly to the residents at Fair Avenue, along with additional water bottle donations from the community. The property also received seventeen hot plated meals from members of the community.

Feb. 20
SAHA staff continued to contact Fair Ave. Apts residents to check on their well-being and deliver more bottled water.

Feb. 21
The San Antonio Food Bank offered food boxes and SAHA staff assisted in distributing to Fair Ave. Apts residents including more bottled water. 

Feb. 22–26
Hot soup meals and bananas were delivered by Meals on Wheels and the Chow Train. Fifty meals donated by Kendra Scott and TX District 119 were distributed to Fair Avenue residents. 

SUMMARY
The winter storm devastated communities across the State of Texas including neighborhoods across San Antonio. Despite the challenges with no access to electricity and water for days, SAHA responded to the needs of its 60,000 residents while ensuring the safety of its more than 500 staff members who also live in our community. 

SAHA staff responded to its more than 100 residential communities across the city during a difficult week. SAHA staff also experienced no electricity and water and staff had to use their personal cars to charge their cell phones to implement the emergency response. It was a herculean effort but we got it done with the help of our colleagues in the City, community partners, and the courage and resiliency of our SAHA residents and SAHA family.