Homeless Man Says More Homeless Are in Odessa Than Originally Thought

Devin Sanchez
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - Some of the homeless saw a light of hope this week when Odessa Links passed out winter care packages.

"We collected probably over 100 donation bags, filled with winter wear, blankets, snacks and water," Erica Chavez, Program Development Director with Odessa Links, said.

They did this during their annual survey, which tally's up the homeless, in hopes of bringing money into the area.

"We're able to submit this and send it out to the state and federal level to bring federal funding to our area," Chavez said.

Chavez told NewsWest 9 in 2012, the survey figured about 350 adults and 800 students were living on the streets.

That may seem like a lot, but according to one homeless man NewsWest 9 met, that's not even close. He's said it's more like 2,000.

Kevin Bartlow lives in a field, just south of Interstate 20 in Odessa. He said he has everything he needs; two beds, a shower, food and water.

"I prefer to be homeless, I have peace," he said.

Bartlow and his wife came to Odessa for work, but like many, couldn't find an affordable home.

"God pray for the landlords. I know they mean well and they like money, but they up the rent when they should be welcoming people into their town," Bartlow explained.

He said Odessa does not realize the homeless problem because they do not want to.

"They don't live where I live," he said. "So their mythical thoughts are not the perception or the reality that's there. I know what's really going on because I'm one of them."

Bartlow, who is terminally ill, said his living situation is not ideal, but he's making it.

"I've lived a beautiful life. I fall over dead right now, turn it off and go home," Bartlow said.