Drugs, alcohol and mental illness are what keep homeless people on the streets in Amarillo. That's one reason why the rate of homelessness is on the rise locally, despite a downward trend across the country. NewsChannel 10's Marissa Bagg shares one woman's hope to keep a job and be self-sufficient.
There are more than 1100 homeless people in Amarillo despite the number of agencies that strive to help them off the streets. One woman shares with us, why it's so hard.
"I had relatives come and get my child and I went into the streets, and I wasn't able to get clean and sober," says Mary Cowan Ross.
Cowan-Ross remembers what led her to become homeless. Even now as she hangs clothes at her new job she shudders at the thought.
"I was in and out of jail, I was stealing for my drugs."
Just a few weeks ago she decided to clean up and focus on what she wants, which hasn't been easy.
"It's been a process and learning to let go and focus on what's in front of me."
But for every potential success story like hers, there is someone who takes her place on the street in Amarillo, which is keeping the homeless rate steadily on the rise.
"We do a shelter count twice a year, and the numbers had gone up and they are steady, we see lots of people through Tyler Street and all the shelters," says Donna Soria, the Director of Development at the Downtown Women's Center.
Countless assistance agencies are trying to figure out how to reduce the rate. But Cowan-Ross says more needs to be done.
"We could use more doors, more people to open up doors, and more support with treatment facilities would be a great help," says Cowan-Ross.
Soria says the average age of a homeless person in Amarillo is 11, which means an overwhelming number of them are children.