LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - One paycheck - that's how much experts now say the average family is away from becoming homeless. Unfortunately, Lubbock is no different. A year ago, it was two paychecks.
Thursday on NewsChannel 11 at 10, we told you about the rise in number of those who are homeless in the Hub City. Experts say many of them are single parents and children. We also showed you the pains of trying to beat the street and the reality of living in shelters.
According to the US Census Bureau, 12.9 percent of Lubbock families live in poverty, but at Family Promise's Hope House efforts are underway to change those numbers. For many it comes in the form of new skills and hope. It's also hope that one day they will no longer live in poverty or even worse be homeless.
Sylvia Hartfield has completed part of her college education and has a job but, like many, she still struggles to stay off the streets. "Get back on my feet and at the same time I'm helping some in the same situation I am in," Hartfield said.
Three weeks ago, Hartfield started working in the kitchen at Bridge of Lubbock. However, it's a part time job, and that leaves Hartfield and her two teenage daughters relying on Family Promise for shelter. "I enjoy my job because not only am I homeless but I get to cook for the homeless," Hartfield said.
In the same kitchen, Kids Cafe Executive Chef Tammy Hester helps prepare some 500 meals a days for Lubbock County students. "Once they leave, a majority of these kids the last meal would be between 11 and 11:30 a.m. when they eat their lunch and they might not have anything else to eat after that," Hester said.
In the past year, the number of meals served to students by the South Plains Food Program has increased 36 percent. It's a harsh reality that most students at Parkway Elementary face - 97 percent receive free or reduced lunch.
But Parkway Principal Eddie Fitzgerald says, thanks to the Junior League's Food 2 Kids program, many students have snacks for the weekend. "If you are hungry it's hard to concentrate. If you are hungry, you spend time trying to think about how you are going to have your food have your next meal. So the programs that we have are very beneficial," Fitzgerald said.
According to the 2003 U.S. Census Bureau, when compared to counties our size and larger, Lubbock County is the second poorest county in Texas and the fifth poorest in the nation per capita.
President of the South Plains Homeless Consortium Debby Roddy says family history, lack of education and Lubbock's high number of teen pregnancies fuel the poverty cycle. She adds that some people are not able to make a living on Lubbock wages, all things that costs taxpayers in the end. "They are going to go to the emergency room because they have no medical insurance and no other way to get taken care of. You're going to pay for them because they are not going to graduate from high school," Roddy said. They are going to be jobless and unemployable."
That's something Hartfield says she plans never to face again. "My goal is to have a place of my own, to be financially stable and able to take care of my kids. To provide medical care for me and my children and transportation for me and my children," Hartfield said.
Roddy says the solution to homelessness in the Hub City is awareness. She adds more shelters, preventive and intervention programs are also needed.
Number Of Homeless On The Rise In Hub City
The number of those who call the streets of Lubbock home is on the rise. NewsChannel 11's Julia Bruck reports.