AUSTIN (KXAN) — Homelessness is down three percent state wide. Still, the national alliance to end homelessness says at least 30,000 in Texas don’t have a permanent home this holiday season.
This free Christmas Eve meal at the downtown Salvation Army is one less thing to worry about for these men and women. It’s a break from the constant search for the basics; foods, shelter, clothing.
Kay Graves volunteers here. “We want them to feel special. Like they matter and give them an experience that’s not normal for them,” said Graves.
“Being on the streets and being in a shelter is not really good for anyone,” said Sherry Bradshaw. She has had many sleepless nights. Years on the streets and four months in the shelter; she celebrates this meal and, for the first year ever, her own apartment.
“I’ve been sleeping in,” while she laughs, “I’ve been getting some rest.” She found the place on her own. The Salvation Army helped with the deposit and rent. Now, she searches for things many take for granted.
“Pots, pans, furniture, stuff like that. Things that go inside the apartment,” said Bradshaw.
She’s a success story. But the bigger story continues. There are still thousands of Texans spending these holiday nights on the streets.
According to the Salvation Army, 2,900 people stayed in their two local emergency shelters in the last year. Three out of four were women and children. To find out how to help click here.
The city of Austin has made homelessness and affordability a priorirty. This year they created three “homestead preservation districts” to dedicate more than $50 million dollars in future tax revenue to affordable housing projects. They increased the senior and disabled property tax exemption by $10,000. They won approval for the Pilot knob Planned Unit Development with 1,000 housing units through the city’s SMART Housing program. The city also made it harder to demolish apartment complexes for low-income tenants.