Working Homeless in the Basin

By Sylvia Gonzalez
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - Imagine making a decent paycheck and still be considered homeless. Well, that's the harsh reality several Midland residents are having to face on a daily basis.

"If I have 12 people in the shelter, at least six of them are actually working and they just can't find anywhere else to go," Captain Tex Ellis with the Midland Salvation Army, said.

Captain Ellis calls them the working homeless people who have jobs. But due to the housing crunch, they're homeless. He says in the 14 years he has worked for the organization he has never seen a shelter occupied to a near capacity by working individuals.

"By the Federal definition they would be defined as homeless even though they have a full time job, they have a vehicle and they are making well above minimum wage. There is not enough housing out there for them," Ellis said.

He said not all who stay at the shelter are in the oil and gas industry, he said there are people from different work fields.

"People from the oil fields, we have people from the local restaurants that just simply can't find a place. They are working full time, they actually have enough money to get into a place," Ellis said.

A person is only allotted 60 days to stay at the shelter, Ellis says the first week a person stays there is free after that they charge $7 a night. That money is used to provide for the meals the Salvation Army provides but he says most of the working homeless choose not to eat there, and would rather leave the meal to someone who really needs it.

"Most of our working class, they don't even need the meals, they are able to go out and they are able to eat while they are at the job site. They want to leave the meals for those who really need the meals," Ellis said.

Ellis says as long as the boom continues and we continue to have a housing shortage, there will be working homeless.

"It's a very unique situation to be in, it's not your typical homeless shelter situation at all when you have that many people working," Ellis said.