Homeless couple highlight shelter need - Austin TX

Discussion in 'Economy' started by hvactec, Dec 26, 2011.

  1. hvactec

    hvactec VIP Member

    Jan 17, 2010
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    New Jersey

    Avoiding the streets of Austin

    Just more than a month ago, Janice Trigilio looked down the block past Austin’s Salvation Army with one thing on her mind: a place to sleep.

    “That little wooded area across the street is looking really good right now,” she told Kim Hallman, local Salvation Army volunteer coordinator.

    Janice and her husband, Richard, who moved to Austin from Sarasota, Fla., last month, were left jobless and homeless after a carpentry job Richard was offered never materialized.

    The Trigilios found themselves in a situation many in Austin face. Each month during the winter, the Salvation Army lodges 25 to 40 homeless people at a motel, said Lt. David Amick. People can stay there for as many as three days while the Salvation Army helps them get back on their feet.

    But after four days, the Trigilios were looking at hitting the streets again. Thanks to Hallman, they didn’t have to do that.

    “It was below freezing that night,” Hallman said. “I just couldn’t let them go on the streets. They’re a really nice couple.”

    Now the Trigilios are staying with Hallman and her boyfriend. With that assistance, the Trigilios are recovering. Janice got a job at McDonald’s several days ago and is earning money helping the Salvation Army’s Kettle Drive.

    “The Salvation Army has been absolutely wonderful,” Janice said. “I cannot say enough about the Salvation Army in Austin.”

    The Trigilios’ situation is one of many reasons why some say Austin needs a homeless shelter. Janice said she and her husband have been homeless in the past, and a shelter in Austin would have helped them.

    “If there had been a shelter here in Austin, I don’t want to say it would have made it a lot easier; but the worrying and the constant fear would not have been there.”
    Measuring the need

    There could be many types of people who would use a shelter in Austin. Like the Trigilios, some people lose their jobs. Others mismanage money, abuse drugs, have mental disabilities or come from other countries and fail to find employment.

    Whatever the reason, Amick said a homeless shelter in Austin could be beneficial. Austin’s homeless population may not be large, but a shelter would benefit people like the Trigilios and even the Salvation Army itself.

    “I wouldn’t say it’s severe,” Amick said about Austin’s homeless population. “I do know that we have more than our fair share for a town our size.”

    For the rest of this winter, the Salvation Army will continue to house individuals and families at a local motel for several days at a time. But that’s all the organization can afford. After three days, the Salvation Army loses resources it could offer to other troubled people.

    “That’s when we go financially backwards,” Amick said about housing people for extended periods of time.

    A homeless shelter poses some risks, however. Some wonder if a shelter allows homeless people an escape without ever fixing their problems. There is also the notion that “if you build it, they will come.”

    Amick has heard those rumors before.

    “There is unfortunately that negative connotation,” he said. “I have heard that since the day I started talking about the shelter. Whether we build it or not, homeless are here, and that’s the truth. We have homeless people whether we have a shelter or not.”
    A working model

    Amick, Hallman and others at the Salvation Army hope plans for a shelter will advance in the next few months.

    “We spend a lot of money housing people in hotels, and I think we’re finally getting people to understand that there is a problem,” Hallman said. “We’re spending a lot of money on hotels to house these people and that’s only a temporary fix.”

    Officials are looking for a 10- to 15-room building for such a facility and hope it could be ready by next fall. With sites they have looked at thus far, that could be in the $200,000 price range, Amick said. Funding could come from several sources, including local, state and federal government, along with donations from churches, charitable organizations and the greater Salvation Army.

    Amick said the Salvation Army could likely offer a couple more jobs at a shelter. Residents, however, would be mainly in charge of the upkeep. A shelter could start as emergency housing only; a place where people could simply get out of the cold.

    If things go well, however, it could become a transitional housing unit where people could stay until they found employment. Residents would also have to routinely prove they have applied for jobs. Much of the shelter’s success would rely on Salvation Army officials and volunteers helping residents get back on their feet.
    An example of success

    Amick realizes some abuse the privileges of shelters and have no intent to better their situations. He has seen that happen.

    READ MORE Homeless couple highlight shelter need | The Austin Daily Herald

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