[Hpn] Homeless lend powerful voice to assistance effort;Lubbock, Texas;10/5/01

Morgan W. Brown norsehorse@hotmail.com
Fri, 05 Oct 2001 15:54:47 -0400


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Friday, October 5, 2001
Lubbock Avalanche-Journal <http://www.lubbockonline.com>
[Lubbock, Texas]
Local News section
Homeless lend powerful voice to assistance effort


While a definite number for Lubbock's homeless population may be elusive, 
members of the Lubbock Homeless Consortium worked Thurs day to ensure that 
help for the homeless is easier to identify.

A compelling aspect of the consortium's second annual conference at 
University Baptist Mission was hearing from people without homes and those 
who recently were homeless. The consortium consists of people, organizations 
or social agencies who assist the homeless.

Also, a brief presentation covered a working report commissioned by the city 
about the needs of Lubbock's homeless population. Texas Tech students 
conducted interviews and surveys of people in low-income homes throughout 
the city for the report. They also interviewed people with social agencies.

The presentation, based on interviews from about 300 households, showed that 
a lot of people were living paycheck to paycheck and were having trouble 
paying bills. Many of those in financial straits were reluctant to seek help 
and thought the situation was normal.

The presentation suggested that agencies assisting the homeless collaborate 
and communicate more with each other.

David Hayslip of University Baptist Mission, a ministry of First Baptist 
Church, said any population figure for Lubbock's homeless might be off 

The most recent city estimate was 200 homeless people in Lubbock and 19,000 
who are close to being homeless.

While some homeless residents sleep outdoors, many others may shuttle 
between homes of friends and relatives.

''If you're staying with a friend, that doesn't mean you're not homeless,'' 
Hayslip said.

Some participants suggested working more aggressively with city officials on 
the homelessness issue.

One focus of the conference was to challenge the concept of what is 

Eric Williams, 36, echoed a popular sentiment about the need for a homeless 
shelter in Lubbock for people until they get back on their feet financially.

In 1999, a proposal for a zoning change for a homeless shelter in the Depot 
District was rebuffed by the city Planning and Zoning Commis sion and the 
City Council amid opposition from Depot District business owners.

Williams, who is from Fort Worth, said that for the past year he has gone 
between friends' houses and outdoors after a breakup with a girlfriend. He 
said he studied communications at a junior college in Fort Worth, but lack 
of transportation and a permanent address means he has been able to find 
only day labor.

''The agencies are good, but they need the financial support to be able to 
help a homeless person,'' Williams said.

Rick Dodson, 43, said many employers won't consider people without a 
permanent address and without identification. Dodson, who had been homeless 
but has a residence provided by a church, said more needs to be done to 
alert the homeless to where they can get help.

''They don't even have access to a computer. If they do, they don't know how 
to run a computer,'' he said.

He said it often is hard for people who work day labor  which he said pays 
$6 or $7 an hour  to save money, especially if they are paid cash.

David Johnson, 25, said the most important thing for homeless people is for 
people to befriend them.

Johnson, who is married with two young children, lost his job at an East 
Texas printing company and was homeless about a year. He moved to Lubbock, 
where his wife has family, and they stayed in a car for a while.

He and his wife now work for University Baptist Mission, and his family is 
buying a home.

''There's different types of homelessness. People have this thing that when 
you're homeless, you're just living on the streets,'' Johnson said.

''When you're homeless, it means you're not buying or renting your home, 
you're not paying your own bills. You're just completely dependent upon 
somebody else.''

Johnson said many homeless people need to boost their self-esteem.

''A lot of the people need friends. They need people to understand instead 
of just making judgments about them as soon as they hit the front door,'' 
Johnson said.

Brian Williams can be contacted at 766-8719 or



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Morgan <norsehorse@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA

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