Homelessness rises in Bell County, costing tax payers more money

Chris Rogers reports.

TEMPLE - For most, homelessness is an unimaginable world. 

“It’s hard … you can’t adjust you just survive," Randy Holland, a local homeless man, said. 

The next meal -- or even the place one may lay his or her head at night -- is a wavering uncertainty.

"As a parent you, want the best for your children... but as soon as we find housing our life will be complete," Stacy Jones, a homeless mother of four children, said.

But for millions of people across Texas, life on the streets is a stark reality. 

Chantel Millin, a lieutenant with the McLane Center of Hope, said homelessness doesn’t have a face or a reason. It could be seen on anyone or anywhere.

On any given day, nearly 23,000 people in Texas are homeless.

Salvation Army case worker Felicia Holland said rental rates in the community have gone up significantly. Individuals with a minimum wage job can’t afford 90 percent of the housing in Central Texas, according to Holland.

In 2016, statistics estimated 515 homeless people were living in Bell County. In the past year, that number continued to rise, and a large percentage of those continue to seek refuge in Temple.

“We have seen that our shelter has stayed full for the most part every night,” Millin said. 

McLane Center of Hope in Temple is one of the newest facilities in the area, built in part to deal with the rising homeless population in the city.

According to Millin, the shelter provides a safe place to nearly 40 women and children to sleep. 

Jones and her kids are among those calling the McLane Center of Hope "home" for the time being. Jones moved to Temple from Detroit to be closer to her sister and to give her children a chance at a better life. 

“I wanted to give them a chance," Jones said. "I didn’t want them to become a statistic there in Detroit, so I brought them here where it’s nicer."

But Jones and her kids found themselves without a place to stay, so they turned to the Salvation Army for help.

“It’s just amazing that we are going to get a new start. As soon as housing comes we’re going to be fine," Jones said.

Jones’s story is just one of many in Temple, a city with a huge influx of people and business in recent years.

But as the city grows, so has the number of people that found themselves on the streets.

Holland said rental rates continue to rise due to the influx. But it’s not just those less fortunate who are paying the price. Homelessness costs taxpayers money, as well.

According to the National Alliance To End Homelessness, a chronically homeless person costs taxpayers an average of more than $35,000 per year.

People living on the street are among the frequent users of emergency departments, and those visits costs money. Thus, the money adds up.  

So for people living in Bell County, helping end homelessness is in their best interest.

“We don’t want to perpetuate homelessness, we want to create an environment that says we want you to be sustainable," Millin said. "We want you to take care of yourself and be able to become a productive citizen again.”

And for those who are still searching for a home, life on the streets is a day-to-day ordeal.

Holding on to a dream is sometimes the only thing left to do.

“I want to be in a home by Christmas… that’s my goal,” Jones said. 

For more information on how to get involved, contact the McLane Center of Hope at (254)774-9996 or visit their website here, or visit the Feed My Sheep website here

© 2017 KCEN-TV


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment