Volunteers turn out to count local homeless - Valley Morning Star : Local News

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Volunteers turn out to count local homeless

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Posted: Friday, January 25, 2019 9:48 am

HARLINGEN — He’s been homeless for years.

Ever since his divorce 30 years ago, he’s been without a home. He’s proud of his children in McAllen who are well educated, but he doesn’t reach out to them.

He doesn’t say why.

But the man eating a lunch of Hot Pockets and soup at Loaves and Fishes opens up to Rosaura Hernandez. She’s one of 15 people who spread out across Harlingen and San Benito yesterday for the annual Point in Time count. Each year, on the fourth Thursday of January, groups across the country do a count of the homeless population in their area.

“ This will help us determine for future funding and also identify if there are unmet needs,” said Melissa Escamilla, program director for Endeavors Veterans Services. She and other Endeavors surveyors were looking specifically for homeless veterans.

“ For example, if we didn’t know there were veterans located in a certain part of the region that we serve, that would be an unmet need,” Escamilla said. “And also, what we do in our continuum of care is that everything gets compiled and that’s how we can determine where the needs are for future funding.”

She and the other surveyors, who included representatives of Tropic Texas Behavioral Center and Loaves and Fishes, counted about 100 homeless people.

“ We have probably located 20 individuals out in the field and about three or four of them have been veterans,” she said at mid-morning. “Most of them need help with income. Others, it’s mental health issues, problems with substance abuse.”

Escamilla said more people were counted this year because of better weather than the same time last year. There were more volunteers as well.

They had a good turnout at breakfast, said Tommy Lee Martinez, director of family emergency assistance with Loaves and Fishes.

“ Some of them are homeless,” he said. “If they’re not staying at the shelter we tell them about our services. Some are looking for jobs, maybe some training assessment. We offer that even for people that don’t stay at the shelter.”

Angela Hernandez spoke to a woman who has custody of her three grandchildren.

“ They are not really homeless,” she said. “They come here to eat since they don’t’ have a stove at the house. They come here for a hot meal.”

Perhaps through this annual count here even more hot meals will be served to those in need.

twhitehead@valleystar.com

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