Council to choose Outreach Team to help combat homeless situation


By Kyle Mooty

LPR Editor

Being homeless more often than not means such people rooted in poverty. However, there can also be substance abuse issues or even psychiatric reasons for their current state of affairs.

Homelessness is defined as a condition of individuals and families who lack stable, safe, and appropriate housing. Those who are homeless have inadequate access to shelter, food, healthcare and other basic necessities. It can be the result of economic hardship, job loss, mental health, substance abuse, domestic violence, and lack of affordable housing.

Lockhart has seen its number of homeless rise dramatically in 2024. It is hardly alone.

The Texas Homeless Network and National Alliance to End Homelessness has released the following statistics:

* In 2023, 61,365 individuals in Texas were identified as having experienced homelessness at some point during the year;

* 24,432 people are homeless on any given night;

* 8.1 people are homeless per 10,000 of the general population;

* 15 percent of those homeless in Texas were children under the age of 18;

* 18-24 year-olds represented 65.16 percent of the homeless population in Texas;

* 19.3 percent of adults over 55 were identified as homeless in Texas;

* Families accounted for 8.17 percent (or 12,394 households) of the Texas homeless population.

* 19.64 percent of the homeless in Texas are unsheltered;

* Veterans are 1,560 of the 19,635 Homeless in Texas.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) said in a report that 653,104 Americans experienced homelessness on January night in 2022. That figure was the highest since HUD began reporting on the issue to Congress in 2007. By 2024, the problem has only grown exponentially.

HUD puts homelessness in four broad categories:

* Individuals and families who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime shelter;

* Individuals and families who will imminently lose their primary nighttime residence;

* Unaccompanied youth and families with children and youth who are defined as homeless under other federal statutes;

* Individuals and families who are fleeing, or are attempting to flee, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or other life-threatening conditions.

It is noted that a large homeless population in a city can drain a community by tying up emergency rooms for medical care, taking up beds at local jails for petty offense at increased costs for operation; affecting the ability to attract tourists, and a cleanup cost due to litter and human waste.

No city can make being homeless illegal, but specific loitering ordinances have proven to have a better chance of standing up in court.

After listening t a presentation by Lockhart Chief of Police Gary Williamson, the City Council directed the Police Department to prepare a budgeting and operational plan to create a homelessness outreach team. The police department-led outreach team will require a partnership with community-based organizations, behavioral health providers and Workforce Solutions.


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