Westside Community Partnerships

Community Projects

Through the Westside Community Partnerships initiative, UTSA aims to amplify the economic and cultural strengths of the Westside by marshaling the university’s talent and resources to engage in strategic community partnerships.

A selection of current and recent community projects are highlighted below.



Digital Inclusion Ambassadors

This initiative grew out of a 2020 digital inclusion survey conducted by a team of researchers from the College for Health, Community and Policy, in partnership with the City of San Antonio’s Office of Innovation and Bexar County Commissioner’s Court. 

Findings from the survey indicated that the digital divide was widest on the Westside. I created and found extramural funding for a student-led group, which serve as a model for community engaged scholarship in a community that lacks amenities common to other neighborhoods. Students provide access to the internet for those who need it, as well as bilingual assistance with internet searches, online research, accessing and applying for social services online, troubleshooting, printing, copying, scanning and provide lessons about internet security and privacy. Recently, the Express-News published an article highlighting the project.

In the News
Preservation project promises housing affordability in S.A.
UTSA Today, October 29, 2020

San Antonio shotgun homes

Shotgun Housing Renovation

Shotgun Houses are small dwelling units that serve as vivid historical remnants of redlining practices in the urban core. Owner-occupants often built them from kits that could be purchased at local lumberyards. 

They are especially prevalent on San Antonio’s Westside where a preliminary inventory by the Office of Historic Preservation (OHP) and UTSA has identified more than 500 units. Faculty from the College of Architecture and College for Health, Community and Policy will help to demonstrate a proof of concept that shotgun houses can be rehabbed to code standards at an affordable cost with a mix of funding sources.

In the News
Preservation project promises housing affordability in S.A.
UTSA Today, October 29, 2020

contractor training

Small Contractor Training

Houses within many Westside neighborhoods date from the 1930s–1950’s. In general, less-experienced contractors do rehab work, whereas the larger, better-capitalized, and more-experienced contractors do new construction. 

Paradoxically, most rehab jobs are more complex than new construction projects, and better rehabbers tend to move on to become new-home builders as they gain experience. This “brain drain” is a major problem for the rehab industry across San Antonio, but especially on the Westside. UTSA construction science faculty created an online/hybrid course for contractors to help them bridge the home repair gap on the Westside. The course targets small and newer construction contractors working on renovations, maintenance, and home improvements of the aging housing stock on the Westside.



San Antonio historic westside

Roadrunners Helping with Estate Planning

UTSA researchers discovered that Westside residents in 78207 with higher than average incomes ($50,000+) had two things in common: they had no mortgage and many inherited their homes from their family.

A lack of intergenerational wealth transfers are a contributing factor to Latino wealth gap, providing the impetus for the Roadrunners Helping with Estate Planning project, in collaboration with the Mexican American Unity Council (MAUC). To date, UTSA students and faculty have helped over 300 families across the Westside to clean or keep a clear title to their home, maintaining assets with original Westside residents. With funding from Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales, UTSA students went door-to-door to conduct further research and outreach in an effort to help improve the wealth gap.

In the News
West Side braces for San Antonio’s latest wave of gentrification
San Antonio Express-News, May 9, 2019

When All’s Right at Home
Sombrilla Magazine, Summer 2019

UTSA Policy Studies Center launches project to help District 5 residents with property title issues 

San Antonio neighborhood

Property Tax Evaluations

Working with non-profits like My City is My Home and Texas Housers, UTSA researchers identified over 2,000 homes in 78207 that are likely not taking advantage of all of the available exemptions to lower their property taxes.

UTSA holds workshops across the community to help homeowners fight property tax appraisals to keep housing affordable.

In the News
San Antonio Residents Learn How to Fight Rising Property Values
Spectrum News, May 3, 2019




Housing Title Search Project

Through housing outreach and community-based research, UTSA is raising awareness of title issues, predatory buying, and tax exemption opportunities for West Side homeowners while also helping many families clear or keep a clean title to their homes.

In the News
West Side homeowners benefit from faculty and student housing outreach
UTSA Today | December 11, 2020