homelessness | KERA News

homelessness

man in front of tent
LM Otero / Associated Press

The number of people experiencing homelessness in Dallas and Collin Counties nudged downward this year to 4,471, according to an annual census of people living on the streets, in shelters and in transitional housing taken each January.

2016 Dallas Homeless Camp
Tony Gutierrez / The Associated Press

The homeless population, including the thousands in Dallas, are especially vulnerable to COVID-19. Organizations serving them are seeking new and safer ways help.

On a late February afternoon, cold winds tore through the Responsible Adult Transition Town in Southeast Austin, thrashing the tarpaulin and nylon walls of its tent village. But the chill didn’t deter Robert Rhodes from making his rounds.

Susan Peake lives at the state-run homeless encampment off U.S. Highway 183 in Austin.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

When Susan Peake moved to Austin from Denver in 2018, she traded one kind of safety net for another.

In Colorado, she’d received state-funded health insurance coverage, which she credits with saving her from financial ruin after she suffered a heart attack requiring double-bypass surgery. In Texas, though she did not qualify for free health insurance, she had a room at her sister’s house, where she hoped to save some money while she recovered.

From Texas Standard:

Navigating school isn't easy for many kids. Juggling classes, friends and extracurricular activities can be a challenge even in the best of circumstances. But it's especially hard for kids who are experiencing homelessness.

As Austin seeks short-term housing for its homeless population, city staff say one option for an emergency shelter wouldn't come online for at least another two years.

shelter in the southeast Austin
Eddie Gaspar / The Texas Tribune

On a January afternoon, Pam Reynolds pushed her wheelchair across the pavement of a Texas Department of Transportation facility in Austin that Gov. Greg Abbott turned into a temporary shelter for people experiencing homelessness. She was flanked by a black Labrador puppy and her tent neighbor, Amy, who was carrying rain-soaked blankets that were still dripping.

Daneille Tooker canvassed encampments in Dallas near Malcom X Boulevard and Interstate 30 on Thursday. The Point in Time Count attempts to capture data about homelessness through an interview with and observation of each individual.
Leslie Boorhem-Stephenson / The Texas Tribune

Just after 9 p.m. Thursday night in a muddy, undeveloped lot blocks from downtown Dallas’ interchange of Interstates 30 and 45, Kris Oliver kneeled in front of a half-opened tent.

He could barely see the faces of two people inside. With a calm and cautious voice, he started asking a long list of questions that he read from his cellphone.

Gov. Abbott Says Texas Nonprofits Should Focus On Homeless, Not Refugees

Jan 22, 2020
protest signs in dumpster
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott dug his heels in Tuesday in a TV interview explaining why Texas will be the only state in the nation to reject refugees seeking resettlement, saying that aid groups working with refugees should instead prioritize other Texans in need, including the state's homeless population.

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A growing number of people in the state don't have a place to live.  According to the latest figures, nearly 26,000 people in Texas are homeless — and Dallas has the largest homeless population in the state.

Gov. Greg Abbott
Marjorie Kamys Cotera / For The Texas Tribune

Twice last year, Gov. Greg Abbott drew ire from Austin city officials when he suggested that crimes were the result of the city's new approach to homelessness, in which it has relaxed ordinances prohibiting camping or otherwise posting up in public spaces.

homeless shelter in Abilene
Gary Rhodes / For The Texas Tribune

No one knew Billy Ray “Shaggy” Hagen was homeless until the janitor arrived early one morning and saw him sleeping on the floor of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.

Everything You Need To Know About Homelessness In Texas

Dec 23, 2019
Tents were pitched in front of the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless in October.
Eddie Gaspar / The Texas Tribune

More than 25,000 Texans are experiencing homelessness. Their struggles to live without homes have received increased attention amid several recent debates over how best to address homelessness — and help people experiencing it.

Homeless Austin residents under the Ben White bridge at Lamar Avenue in South Austin last month.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

Austin leaders and state officials for months have sparred over how to manage homelessness and support Texans without homes. After the Austin City Council softened its regulations on panhandling, sitting and sleeping in public areas, Gov. Greg Abbott criticized local leaders, cleared homeless encampments under highways and opened up a state-owned plot of land in Montopolis for people experiencing homelessness to stay in.

Robert Marbut Jr. was named as the next head of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness Wednesday. This largely unknown independent agency coordinates homlessness policy across more than a dozen federal agencies. 

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / The Texas Tribune

After forcing Austin's homeless population out from under state overpasses, Gov. Greg Abbott's office on Thursday announced a plan to provide a five-acre plot of land for homeless to camp temporarily until more permanent shelter can be identified.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / The Texas Tribune

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott presented Austin and its Mayor Steve Adler with an ultimatum Wednesday: “Demonstrate consequential improvement in the Austin homelessness crisis” by Nov. 1 or the state will step in.

Associated Press

Homeless people in North Texas face a mountain of obstacles on the path to financial stability and often the largest setback comes from a small expense — think steel-toed boots for a factory job or an application fee for an apartment. About four years ago, the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance created a fund aimed at helping low-income families meet these needs. 

Asylum-seeking migrants often make it to San Antonio without having the opportunity to bathe for weeks beforehand. Similarly, there are residents of San Antonio who don't have access to clean water. 


Marjorie Kamys Cotera / The Texas Tribune

Just a couple of months ago, Steve Harrell got a ticket just for sitting in downtown Austin. It was around 4:30 p.m. and he was among a group of other people experiencing homelessness when a police officer approached, pointed at him and issued the citation, he told officials at an Austin City Council meeting last month.

Stella Chávez / KERA News

New data shows that while homelessness is going down in Houston, it's going up in Dallas. The Point-In-Time Count is an annual census done at the end of each January across the country, and Juan Pablo Garnham wrote about this for the Texas Tribune. He spoke with KERA's Justin Martin.

Leslie Boorhem-Stephenson / The Texas Tribune

 

From Texas Standard:

As the gap between the wealthy and poor has grown in places where the cost of living is high, cities across the country have been struggling with growing populations of people experiencing homelessness – people soliciting passersby, sleeping and living on public streets and in parks. In Austin, where the wealth gap has been skyrocketing, so have the numbers of people living on the streets.

Stella Chávez / KERA News

More than 4,000 students in the Dallas Independent School District are homeless. With no permanent place to call home, life can be stressful. That’s why homeless advocates say exposing kids to positive experiences is so important. One summer camp at the University of Texas at Dallas is doing just that.

Courtney Collins / KERA News

For Louanna Fowler, becoming homeless didn't happen little by little — it happened all at once. One day she was living in a foster home, the next, she had aged out and was on the street.

Syeda Hasan / KERA News

More and more people are experiencing homelessness across North Texas — and candidates in the Dallas mayoral race are weighing in on how to change that. 

New research estimates 15,000 kids in Tarrant County are homeless, including those living with families in motels or staying on someone's couch.
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A new report in Tarrant County shows traditional homeless counts track people in shelters or sleeping on the street, but they don't always account for families living in motels or camping on someone's couch.

Homelessness increased 5 percent in Austin over last year, according to the results of Ending Community Homelessness Coalition's annual census. 

The survey, which was conducted overnight on Jan. 26 by about 500 volunteers, found 2,255 people experiencing homelessness on Austin streets and in shelters, compared to 2,147 people last year.

Ashley Franks lives with her son, Cashton, at the Union Gospel Mission in Fort Worth.
Christopher Connelly / KERA News

When Ashley Franks got pregnant with her son, her grandfather kicked her out of the house. She didn’t know where to go. So she lived out of her car throughout the pregnancy.

“Daily life [when living in the car] is trying to find a place to take a shower, make sure that your hygiene is kept up, make sure that your vehicle is running properly, because that’s all you have,” Franks says.

Sherizon Scott, her two-year-old son Hezekiah, and four-year-old daughter Zuri spent six months in a homeless shelter in 2017 before Scott found an affordable place to live.
Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Sherizon Scott says her life is on the right track, but it’s been a struggle to get there. 

For years, Scott and her husband teetered on the edge of financial instability. They could take care of their growing family’s needs on their own, but only so long as everything went right, she says.

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