From the Executive Director - July 2024

Over the past several months, a group of individuals concerned about our homeless neighbors in San Angelo have been meeting to see if we could find a long-term solution to the growing numbers.  This task force is a combination of concerned citizens, formerly homeless individuals, social service agency leaders, and government representatives who have discussed different options to safely shelter those experiencing homelessness while giving them the other services they need.  We’ve examined what other cities are doing.  We’ve talked about what should be offered. We’ve talked about the costs. 

Tent City
In the middle of our work, the local homeless encampment known as Tent City was cleared out by the city.  I don’t pretend to know all the ins and outs of why this decision was made.  We certainly tried to convince the city this wasn’t the best decision.  But between the many calls upon the city council and city manager’s office over the encampment, the decision was made.  Yes, there were some serious issues to fix at the encampment and several agencies were working with the residents to try to rectify them. But in the end, the camp was cleared and the residents dispersed around San Angelo, many of whom we aren’t sure where they ended up.
 

I am very proud, though, of our network of agencies in the homeless coalition during the camp abatement.  We chose to offer assistance to our homeless neighbors on that initial cleanup day, even though we knew it might weaken the trust we have with the residents.  For me, it was more about helping those in this crisis moment and hoping we can rebuild that trust overall.  It was a gamble, but when I think of how many were assisted that day I think it was worth it. 

We still have a lot to do to shelter our over 175 homeless neighbors. When you think about that number, think about this...if a neighborhood in San Angelo was impacted by a weather event, and the residents of the neighborhood were suddenly without shelter, our city would leap at offering assistance.  This is essentially the same thing.  It doesn’t matter if someone is homeless because of weather, mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, a lack of funds, or whatever any of the many causes are.  These 175+ people...fellow human beings...deserve help.  

Back to the task force.  We have a plan.  The plan is in motion.  Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be revealing what this plan is.  It is exciting. It is game-changing.  And it is not cheap.  But it is worth it.  And the plan will impact so much more in our community. 

I want to share again one of my favorite verses from a hymn. It is very fitting for what we are trying to accomplish: 

For everyone born, a place at the table, 
for everyone born, clean water and bread, 
a shelter, a space, a safe place for growing, 
for everyone born, a star overhead. 
- For Everyone Born, Words by Shirley Erena Murray 

When the time comes, will you do your part to help our homeless neighbors?  I hope so. 
 

For EVERYONE born, 

Mike 

Mike with Coffee