AMARILLO, Texas(KAMR/KCIT)— During an Amarillo City Council meeting on Tuesday, Jason Riddlespurger, director of community development for the city of Amarillo, proposed the creation of a tiny house community for the homeless located near downtown.
In his presentation, Riddlespurger said that the city of Amarillo has a total of 539 homeless people, with 368 that are unsheltered. The city has one daytime shelter- Guyon Saunders Resource Center- and two nighttime shelters-Faith City Mission Family Shelter/Salvation Army.
“We’ve got places for them to go, but we don’t have enough beds and the current situation at some of those shelters are not conducive for them to be there.” Riddlespurger said. “That’s why you’re seeing a lot of unsheltered folks throughout the city. It’s not just in Downtown Amarillo, it’s all over the city.”
Through extensive researching and brainstorming, Riddlespurger brought a proposal forward to partner with the company “Pallet Shelters” to purchase prefabricated shelters to provide housing for the homeless. The shelters range from 64sqft to 100sqft and can accommodate up to four people. The shelters are equipped with electricity, heating,A/C, and security. Each shelter has a 10-year lifespan and can withstand winds up to 100 mph and 25lbs of snow load. They can also withstand temperatures of up to -40 degrees. Each panel can also be replaced if it gets damaged.
The shelters do not support water or sewage. Riddlespurger proposed building community bathrooms and showers for residents to use. The community would be fenced in for security measures.
Riddlespurger proposed two to three acres of land, which would allow 100 units to be built, as well as other facilities. If possible, the community would be located near the Greyhound Bus Station to allow easy access to public transportation.
The proposed cost for the project would be around $2-3 million dollars to build the community, as well as additional funds for ongoing costs. The city plans to use $1,113,940 of American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) funding to purchase the pallet shelters. ARP money is received from the federal government in response to needs that arose out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The City of Amarillo will not be in charge of running the shelter. Riddlespurger said he wants to partner with local nonprofits to provide funds and staffing.
“This is something that we as the city would like to help in the creation of getting this built,” he said. “Then we want to find that right agency that’s going to partner with us. The city is not going to run this. it’s going to be that agency that comes out of the works.”
Riddlespurger wants to give people dignity and a place to bounce back, while also helping the city of Amarillo.
“This is the time to do something monumental for your city,”Riddlespurger said. “I shared this with our leaders and others in our community that have the ability to do things. Our leadership is saying,’this is the time.'”
Riddlespurger said that the council will review the proposal and make a decision on whether or not they want to proceed with the project.
For more information, visit the Amarillo Community Development website.