AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The City of Amarillo’s Coming Home Program has received a grant to help house more homeless people.
On Tuesday, the Amarillo City Council voted to unanimously approve $1,274,112 in funding from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs to provide housing stability services to those who have recently or are currently experiencing homelessness.
“What that’s going to basically do is double our team,” said Jason Riddlespurger, the city’s community development director. “So we’re going to have about another 10 positions to our program and over the next—it’s a two-year grant. We’re going to be able to hopefully outreach to over 100 individuals and house over 80.”
The program started three years ago, they have already helped to house 130 homeless individuals. However, Riddlespurger said their services are still needed.
This year’s point in time count showed there are 539 homeless people in Amarillo, 368 of whom are unsheltered and living on the streets.
“They’re the ones that are living exactly like what you think,” said Riddlespurger. “They’re on a street. I want you to imagine being sick and having to go and lay down on a concrete curb and that is your place where you’re sleeping and you’re out in the elements.”
He continued, “Those are the people that we can truly make a difference. How can we get them off the streets and get them into shelter and get them the things that they need in order to be successful? That’s what this program does. And in order to do that, I mean, basically we can solve homelessness with enough staff with enough money and enough homes.”
He said while the number of homeless people in Amarillo seems high, it is manageable.
“So we’ve got this team that we’re going to be able to push out there and really start to focus on getting them into housing. We’ve got housing vouchers. We’ve got the ability to get them into housing,” he added. “Now, we’ve got to find those locations because right now we do have a little bit of a shortage of rental places in Amarillo.”
Riddlespurger encouraged landlords who are interested to reach out for available HUD housing vouchers.
He also said he is hopeful for more resources in the near future, likely in the form of more grant money.
“I fully expect that there will be some kind of funding out there,” Riddlespurger said. “I believe our community needs to have some you know stake in the in the issue and hope that you know in the future we’ll have other ways for them to help…”