Homeless man tells story of forced eviction from downtown tent city

Homeless man tells story of forced eviction from downtown tent city

SAN ANTONIO – Being evicted may not seem like a possibility for someone who has no home at all.

However, that is what Tomanique Grant says happened to him and several other people in a makeshift tent city near downtown.

Grant first spoke to KSAT12 News in early October when he and the others were living in tents in a parking lot near North Main Avenue and Interstate 35.

Pandemic puts downtown homeless encampments in plain sight

He says they set up camp out of necessity due to a scarcity of space at local shelters.

“This is not no community. This is a way of life,” he said, at the time of that initial interview.

Patrick Steck, interim Assistant Director with the Department of Human Services, confirmed at that time that shelter access had been limited due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Within a few days after Steck granted that interview, though, the entire tent city and everyone living in it suddenly disappeared.

Roland Martinez, who also is with DHS, told KSAT 12 News that his agency had been working with the people there all along and offered shelter at Haven for Hope to everyone in the encampment.

In early November, however, Grant resurfaced, telling a different story.

He says he and his neighbors in the tent city were forced out during a surprise crackdown.

“I was at the city council meeting that morning trying to meet with the mayor about this situation,” Grant says, reflecting on what happened Oct. 15.

When he returned to what he thought was his home, Grant says he found out that San Antonio police had thrown all of his possessions in the trash and evicted everyone.

“(I) posed the question, ‘Why scatter everybody like ants?,’ he said. “That don’t make no sense.”

Grant says with nowhere else to go, he ended up pitching another tent on the opposite side of the fence from the property where the group had been staying originally.

That land, which is on a ledge above Interstate 35, is owned by the state, he says.

KSAT 12 News reached out to various entities with the city about his allegations, including DHS and the office of City Councilman Robert Trevino.

Both promised to get back with some answers, but failed to do so.

A public information officer with SAPD said in an email that police played only a support role in the eviction and would not touch or throw away anyone’s possessions.

Jennifer Rodriguez said the crackdown was a collaboration involving several city departments.

She was not able to say which of them organized it, instead deferring that question to DHS.

Rodriguez did say, however, that the “clean-up” was done after giving everyone in the encampment 72 hours’ advance notice.

Grant says the eviction came without warning and took everyone by surprise.

Still, he continues to hope that eventually things will go his way.

“There is no such thing as a person who doesn’t want a roof over their head. That’s not even an argument,” Grant said.

Because of his criminal past, he says he has been caught in a cycle of homelessness that persists no matter how hard he tries to get out.

He is hoping one day to be able to cut through the red tape and walk through his own front door.

Copyright 2020 by KSAT – All rights reserved.

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