AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The City of Amarillo began a program called Coming Home in 2018 and the program was a first for Amarillo.
According to the City of Amarillo, the program is having a major effect over the past two years. The City of Amarillo has had a 36% decrease in the homeless population and the rate of chronically homeless dropped from 27% to 7%.
Director of Community Development for the City of Amarillo, Jason Riddlespurger said they have housed over 130 people with the program and have an 85% success rate so far.
He said the program works to get individuals off the streets and into houses and then surround them with all the services they need.
“Whether that’s getting them ids, birth certificates, helping them find a job, maybe it’s somebody that dealing with mental health problems connected with a mental health professional, medical help. Those kinds of things,” said Riddlespurger.
He said that the ultimate goal is to get someone back on their feet.
“Whenever we see we folks that come in that really don’t know what to do or who to contact or how to get out of the rut, that they got themselves into, whenever we are able to fill those gaps and help lead them to the right resources, to the right places, getting them into a home, a safe warm place,” said Riddlespurger.
Riddlespurger adds that the city of amarillo has an outreach team that builds relationships with the homeless population to help get them into the program.
“We want to build a rapport with them, spend a little bit of time to get to know them, let them get to know us, build a relationship so we can be trusted and so that we say that we are going to do these things for you that’s the truth and we are going to do that,” added Riddlespurger.
Riddlespurger said that working with community partners to help the homelessness issue is key.
Riddlespurger said that some people could be in the program for five to ten years, depending on how much help they are needing.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Amarillo started housing some of the homeless population in hotels to lessen capacity at local shelters.
Riddlespurger said that some of those that were in that program became a part of the Coming Home program.
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