Mayor’s Summit on Homelessness: A look at the numbers

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AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — New ideas on solving the problem of homelessness in Amarillo, all part of the Mayor’s Summit on Homelessness this morning.

At the 2019 Point-in-Time count here in Amarillo, there were 774 homeless individuals, 265 of those being chronically homeless.

The summit is meant to address the community on the issue, and provide some insight on what it’s doing to help those in need.

Last week when Maggie Glynn sat down with Mayor Ginger Nelson, she said they would be going over statistics about the city’s Coming Home program. The program launched just under a year ago and has since housed 49 individuals in 34 households. According to the city,100 percent of those people have retained housing.

Getting them into housing is just the first part of the program. The city has two social workers to make sure these people are getting the help they need.

One of the speakers today, Dr. Sam Tsemberis, explains why it is important to get to know each individual’s story and not just put a roof over their heads.

“It’s not a cookbook, it’s not a formula, these are people’s lives, individual stories, we need to get to know the people we’re talking about. Using terms like ‘homelessness’ and ‘addicts’ keeps us from knowing something about the person we’re trying to understand,” said Dr. Tsemberis.

Dr. Tsemberis’ housing first approach, which is used by the city, is to ask each individual directly what they need to get out of homelessness. This could be addiction treatment, mental health, but it is different for everyone.

What’s next for the city? The immediate answer is the next point-in-time count, which is happening next week.

As for the long-term future of the program, the city is applying for several grants that could help in a couple of years.

Eventually, the goal would be to be reimbursed by Medicaid because most of the people in the program qualify for disability services.

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