The number one reason people in Lubbock are homeless is not drug or alcohol addiction, according to a survey conducted by the Texas Homeless Network in January of 2010; it is the inability to pay rent or mortgage. The same study counted 719 homeless individuals in Lubbock and estimates an additional 171 people are transitioning in and out of homelessness. These numbers are staggering considering that as of October 2010, there is no official homeless shelter in Lubbock. In light of these statistics, there are positive ways to exercise your concern.
1) Give financial support to organizations that are working to build transitional housing facilities for the homeless. These facilities are designed to give both shelter and support to homeless individuals who are seeking to get out of homelessness. Chairwoman of Directors Pandy Bell says Lubbock Rescue Mission is in the early developmental stages, but hopes to have a facility ready in August of 2011; Lubbock Rescue Mission accepts online donations. The Salvation Army of Lubbock is also working towards this and plans to have a transitional facility built and accepting people by the fall of 2011, according to Community Relations Associate Melody Paton. Online donations are sorted by zip code of payee to ensure funds stay local, and Texas Tech employees can designate their State Employee Charitable Contribution (SECC) to 353017.
2) Build relationships with homeless individuals. Barrett Smith, one of two ministers at Carpenter’s Church, says, “The primary and somehow mind-blowing response that I generally have when someone asks what the solution to homelessness is a home, and I mean that in contrast to a house.” Just like any individual, homeless people need to feel positive connections and value apart from their status. Begin by making yourself available. Carpenter’s opens its doors daily for homeless people to have a safe place to socialize. When you volunteer at a soup kitchen, take the time to listen to someone’s story and share your own.
3) Donate items for resale and shop at the Salvation Army Thrift Store. According to Paton, approximately eighty percent of purchases go directly to all services provided by the Salvation Army here in Lubbock, including services to the homeless. Donations can be picked up at your home by calling 806-741-1325, making the process easy.
4) Express your concern about the homeless to city council, suggests Jim Beck, former minister at Carpenter’s Church of thirteen years. Write supportive letters or make phone calls, just remember to be kind. Offer encouragement and show your appreciation to those who are working hand in hand with the homeless; they carry a heavy burden. Give direct monetary support to organizations and churches that work with the homeless.
5) Give non-perishable, healthy food items to the South Plains Food Bank. If you have a religious affiliation, inquire if it is operating a food pantry or soup kitchen and offer food items that are in shortage. Many of the people served by these organizations lack access to fresh fruits and vegetables; if you have a garden, consider donating excess produce after confirming it will be accepted.
6) Buy hygiene items, such as travel sized shampoo, soap and lotion, toilet paper and sanitary napkins. Donate these items for hygiene kits to places like the South Plains Food Bank, Salvation Army, and Carpenter’s Church.
7) Participate in annual sleeping bag and coat collections. Contact Lubbock Rescue Mission, Carpenter’s Church, or other religious/charitable organizations to help in this capacity.
Barrett Smith, Carpenter’s Church Minister; Carpenter’s Church; Lubbock, Texas
Jim Beck, Assistant Professor of Missions; Lubbock Christian University; Lubbock, Texas
Melody Paton, Community Relations Associate; Salvation Army; Lubbock, Texas
Pandy Bell, Chairwoman of Directors; Lubbock Rescue Mission; Lubbock, Texas
Texas Homeless Network: “Point-in-Time Survey of Lubbock County”