The Interfaith Hospitality Network has been providing semi-permanent housing for homeless families with children for five years. 25 church congregations help and 12 provide homeless families places to sleep and food to eat. But there's simply not enough programs to help 76 families who are calling for help.
Tabatha McCrary was 21-years-old two years ago, living in Lubbock and homeless. "My roughest time was when I was living in my car with, I'm going to cry, with my ex and we had our kids with us and I was pregnant," said Tabatha.
Interfaith Hospitality Network says families like Tabatha's are existing more and more in Lubbock. And right now, Interfaith is receiving more phone calls than ever before. "From an average of 40 phone calls in three years, in June, we've had 50 to 60 calls a month. In October, I was really amazed to have 76. These are homeless families with children," said Ione Heartsill, Interfaith Executive Director.
Heartsill blames low paying jobs and a lack of affordable housing to be the reason why more families are homeless in Lubbock.
"We have single moms who make up the majority, to single dads with kids. We have moms and dads with their babies and we've had teenagers with their parents," said Nancy Neill, Food Coordinator of First Presbyterian Church. Neill is passionate about helping needy families. Just last week, families stayed at the basement of the church. "We had every room filled down here with more on the waiting list. And that says to me there's a definite need in our community for this type of service," Neill said.
"I've seen a lot of homelessness. There's more in Lubbock than you think. A lot of people don't understand and don't even see it," said Tabatha. She'll tell you Interfaith was her saving grace and if the program didn't exist, she wouldn't have been a survivor, just like the 70% of other families who have been through the Interfaith program. "I got married since I left the program. We still live in that small two bedroom house. I got saved in 2002," Tabatha said.
While providing food and a place to sleep, Interfaith helps families with day care, transportation, get into permanent housing and food stamps. If you would like to help or want to know how Interfaith can help a family in need, call (806) 744-5035.