Opportunity Home hosts Listening Town Halls with Residents to Enhance Emergency Preparedness
March 19, 2021
The San Antonio Housing Authority (Opportunity Home) is enhancing its emergency preparedness plans after hosting a series of resident listening town hall meetings at Fair Avenue Apartments on March 19 to hear directly from residents and to address common concerns.
In an open-discussion format, the majority of residents expressed concerns about day-to-day groundskeeping and how to improve onsite security. The feedback will be relevant to update the agency’s Emergency 4-Point Action Plan implemented during the winter storm and for future natural disasters.
“The agency went into each town hall meeting to learn and listen with an open heart, understanding the general sentiment of our residents helps the agency develop new protocols and procedures to improve their quality of life.” said Brandee Perez, Opportunity Home’s Chief Operating Officer.
Since Fair Avenue Apartments is an independent living elderly public housing community and not an assisted living facility or nursing home, Opportunity Home also took the initiative to survey residents on their expectations surrounding wellness checks.
The majority of Fair Avenue residents surveyed said they either preferred Opportunity Home to “respect their privacy” if they miss a phone call or a door knock after two attempts or enter their unit in the event of an emergency, while others preferred a weekly or monthly check-in.
“This truly puts into perspective the privacy residents value, but also highlights residents who want more frequent check-ins,” Perez said.
The feedback will be relevant for the agency’s Emergency 4-Point Action Plan implemented for future natural disasters.
The Emergency 4-Point Action Plan includes 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 and 4) Addressing and repairing emergency damages.
The town hall meetings reaffirmed the key issue areas important to residents, and therefore, to further protect Opportunity Home residents from future local or state emergencies, the agency will immediately move forward on the following action items:
- Explore the implementation of an emergency text messaging system to reach residents with mobile phones.
- Since emergencies require communities coming together and working hand-in-hand and to avoid duplicating efforts, future emergency responses will need to require immediate communication with community groups to mobilize collective resources and efforts.
- Opportunity Home has requested CPS Energy to include Opportunity Home properties on the critical electric grid used by hospitals, nursing homes and prisons.
- In lieu of food partners unable to provide food during inclement weather, Opportunity Home will explore community food pantries to be utilized in emergency situations.
- Opportunity Home and the City of San Antonio are exploring the possibility of investing in emergency power generators for use at properties with vulnerable populations during extreme weather, both in the winter and summer.
- Identify staff who live in close proximity to Opportunity Home properties who would be able travel during inclement weather to minimize hazardous travel from staff homes to residential properties.
- Opportunity Home will expand its on-site Resident Councils to better liaise with leadership for immediate responses for daily needs and for emergency responses. While Resident Councils have been inactive since the COVID-19 pandemic, they are important tools to assist and advise Opportunity Home since residents have first-hand knowledge of what is happening in their respective community. They are organized groups of residents who serve as the voices for their communities to improve quality of life.
- Urge Congress to increase funding for public housing authorities to provide adequate home insulation and modern infrastructure to withstand extreme weather especially after decades of government underfunding.
Resident input provides valuable information as Opportunity Home continues to support our residents and families to live in a positive living environment.