LONGVIEW, Texas (KETK) – It’s been three years since Longview Mayor Andy Mack made it a priority to protect the homeless population in his jurisdiction.
Thursday the third-annual homeless resource day was held at the Longview Exhibit Center.
According to the Point-of-Time annual survey, the homeless population in Longview has stayed pretty consistent over the past 3 years, at about 230 people.
“Homelessness isn’t a Longview problem, it’s not an East Texas problem, this is something you see all over the country and each community has to look at and see what can they do, how can they address what is really a national problem,” said Shawn Hara, a spokesperson for the City of Longview.
One way they are addressing the problem here at home, by helping create an easier reach to resources.
“Think about trying to get around town, even if you’re doing your own errands, now imagine if you don’t have a car, you don’t have a home, I’ve gotta get to all of these services, but they’re spread out,” said Hara.
“We have services here in one place for our homeless, our needy to be able to access one day, one stop, multiple services,” said Laura Hill, Director of Community Services for the city.
They were offering toiletries and clothes, haircuts, services for pets, health stops, and veterans were even able to pick up a new pair of boots.
According to Hara, what’s happening here today is one of the most important parts of this three-year-old initiative. Because it’s how they collaborate with one another and then connect with those in need.
“My fiance, he didn’t even know he was eligible for the benefits until we came here, and we’ve got his disability going now through the VA, he’s eligible for all these things that he already worked for,” said Alice Landtoorp, a woman attending the fair with her veteran fiance.
In the past three years the task force has implemented several more programs. A pilot work program was created for the homeless, they have officers specially trained to work with displaced people, and they are collaborating with local organizations to address the mental health crisis in our area.
All of these efforts are focused on making sure every East Texan is on their feet.
For more information, visit longviewtexas.gov/homeless.