Number of Homeless on the Rise in Hub City - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/29/09

Number of Homeless on the Rise in Hub City

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The number of those who call the streets of Lubbock home is on the rise, according to the South Plains Homeless Consortium. On Thursday morning, volunteers counted more than 500 people without a home in Lubbock, which is an increase from the 353 counted last year.

The average person who is homeless in Lubbock is nine years old. Then with today's down-turned economy, more and more kids and adults are turning to place like Carpenter's Church for help, while others face the streets.

Not long ago, the Martinez family had their own place in Hobbs, New Mexico. Now, everything they own fits neatly in one plastic storage container.  "We lay the cots down here on the floor," Lucille Martinez said. NewsChannel 11 asked, "So you sleep right next to others?" "Yes," replied Lucille.

Emmett and Lucille Martinez came to Lubbock for a job, which did not work out. When their money was gone, they found themselves without a place to live. "We worried, 'Where are we gonna go next? What's going to happen next?' But we just try to keep our faith in God," Lucille said.

It is that faith which leads the Martinez's and dozens of others to Carpenters Church in downtown Lubbock. "Each night from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. we host a prayer vigil here and we invite our homeless friends to pray alongside of us asking God to provide shelter," Minster Chad Wheeler said.

Wheeler says the number of those who come to the church has increased in recent months. "On a typical week we'd probably have maybe 67 people come through the doors," Wheeler added.

Not far away, in the shadows of Texas Tech, 3rd grader Kassy Everetts knows all too well the pains of homeless. "Every time we move to a different house we have to take the entire luggage we are going to take," Everetts said.  

A move that comes every week as Kassy, her mother and brother receive assistance from Family Promise. Development Director Allen Reed says from 2006 to 2007 the number of inquiries for help almost doubled.

President of the South Plains Homeless Consortium Debby Roddy says on Thursday volunteers counted more than 500 who are homeless. But she estimates there are actually about 1000 others who are unaccounted for who may be staying with friends or family.

"They don't get counted so people say they are not homeless and they are endanger of being on the street as much or more than anyone else," Roddy said.

There is some good news. The Martinez family says they will head to Corpus Christi for another job opportunity. 

Coming up Friday on NewsChannel 11 at 6, we'll show you how homelessness affects Lubbock taxpayers, how Lubbock ranks nationally for poverty and we'll talk to some people who are working but still homeless.

Lubbock Red Cross
Learn more about the South Plains Regional Chapter of the American Red Cross.

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