AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - The City of Amarillo’s Coming Home program began in November 2018 with a plan of serving 25 people considered chronically homeless.
In about six months, the number of people served has doubled.
The city now leases out 32 apartments, housing 49 people who had been on the streets for a combined 167 years.
“Our goal is to ensure that no one returns to homelessness and to certainly support people in their goals,” said Juliana Kitten, Director of Community Development for the City of Amarillo. “So many people have goals to work, or to reconnect with family.”
The program follows a Housing First model, which uses housing as the foundation to help the homeless achieve other goals.
“This isn’t a program that where if they mess up, they’re just going be discharged,”said Kitten. “We’re going to stick with them because that is the Housing First model and that’s what’s going to work for them.”
Alongside housing initiatives,a portion of a block grant given to the Community Development Department has provided agencies who help the homeless with $3,750 in bus tickets.
Amarillo Housing First, who says it receives about 40 round trip tickets a month through this grant, is asking the community to donate so the organization can purchase more tickets.
“One of the paradigms of Housing First, is to provide supportive services to individuals once we get them into homes because we want them to maintain their housing and not become homeless again,” said Virginia Williams Trice, Board President of Amarillo Housing First. “So being able to have them connected to resources beyond medical resources is very important. They need to be able to go get groceries when they’re out of food, they need to be able to go to job interviews.”
Williams says as Amarillo Housing First raises funds for a transportation van, they’re hoping to raise enough money to purchase 100 round trip tickets a month.
The City of Amarillo will be hosting a Mayor’s Summit on Homelessness in July.
However, city officials will be speaking on what’s to come at this summit during Tuesday’s city council meeting.