by Nick Lawton
MIDLAND - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development gave out more than $10 million in federal grants for the homeless this week to more than a dozen Texas cities but the Midland Homeless Coalition was left out.
They believe it's because they favor more transitional homeless housing, the kind that houses families longer until they're financially stable, as opposed to the more short-term emergency housing like that of an organization like the Salvation Army.
"If we were to switch to more emergency housing here, that would really just kind of change our whole focus," Linda Hamblin, Chairperson of the Midland Homeless Coalition, said.
Plus, Midland has to compete with more metropolitan cities like Austin and San Antonio.
"More difficult for the rural areas to have the numbers that the government is looking for the bang for their buck," Hamblin said.
That federal grant money is also judged by the unemployment rate.
Midland has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Texas and that statistic can hide a homelessness problem.
The Salvation Army of Midland recently conducted phone surveys in which the majority of Midlanders said there is no homelessness problem.
"If the community doesn't perceive that we have an issue then that's going to be a little more difficult," Hamblin said.
But the housing crunch in Midland is also a factor.
With rents rising higher and places to stay scarce, Hamblin said families who would just be low-income are being pushed into homelessness.
For now, the Midland Homeless Coalition will continue to work to find more affordable housing to solve this problem and continue educating the public that there is a homelessness problem affecting families every day.
"It's not just the alcoholic man under the bridge with a brown bag in his hand," Hamblin said. "We're talking about families, just individuals that have found themselves in a situation where they're now homeless."