City of Amarillo renews HOPE program

City of Amarillo renews HOPE program
Source: KFDA

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - The HOPE, or Homeless Outreach Providing Encouragement, Program has been unanimously renewed by city council to begin its second session.

"We're expanding from a six month pilot program to a seven month program," said Kevin Starbuck, Assistant City Manager for the City of Amarillo. "This was the first year that Amarillo Housing First administered the program so there was a learning curve for them as to where the expenses were applied and how best to utilize the funding. So as part of that, we've worked with them to identify the little additional money to fund the program for that additional month."

The money to fund the program comes from leftover funding for Hurricane Katrina and Rita.

The expense for the pilot was $45,000.

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City council approved $63,000 for this year's HOPE in hopes to repeat its success.

"128 individuals participated in the program. 124 of those were referred to various support services in our community and provided that opportunity for any number of different support service requirements that they may have had," said Starbuck. "We had 22 individuals that were able to move from a homeless situation into permanent housing and 12 individuals that found themselves permanent housing."

Participants earn nine dollars an hour to clean-up areas of Amarillo.

Councilwoman Hayes called HOPE a success, saying it's a program that provides the most return of investment.

"Behind that came the work program and then in addition has led to actual permanent housing," said Elaine Hayes, council member for the City of Amarillo.

With the renewal, Starbuck said the hurricane funds will run out.

They're looking towards the future.

"At that point we're really going to have to look at what alternative funding we have to continue the program in future years," said Starbuck. "There's an interest in can we expand the program beyond the six and seven months, spring fall time frame to maybe a year round program."

The HOPE program will begin again in April and run through October.

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