WACO, Texas – The Heart of Texas Homeless Coalition is one of only two recipients in Texas to receive the $2.2 million grant from Housing and Urban Development.
This is a part of the $74 million Youth Homelessness Demonstration Grant aimed to support youth and young adults.
Amy Jimenez is apart of Waco ISD’s Homeless Outreach Department where she meets students everyday experiencing homelessness.
“Some of them are sleeping on the street and staying on park benches, the things you might think when you think of an homeless individual. But a lot of our students are CouchSurfing. They’re being kicked out of their homes for various reasons. Some of them are staying in their cars trying to just find the next place to stay,” Jimenez says.
Now, this $2.2 million is heading to programs the district looks to for assistance year after year. Jimenez is hopeful this narrative will soon change.
“Yes, we can start funding apartments for that student, or the student that’s been sleeping in their car can have a roof over their head. So, it was pretty surreal to be able to hear the news, and now moving forward start implementing the ideas that we’ve had for so long,” Jimenez says.
The grant is giving agencies within the Coalition a variety of new avenues to fit the needs of young people needing housing assistance, regardless of age or location, capable of outreach in six Central Texas counties.
Jimenez says part of the reason why the Coalition was awarded the grant is because the combined agencies are creating a system of care that will house young people – helping them to thrive and give them a hand up and avoiding homelessness.
“We’ll be able to call an agency like the COVE or Klara Center and say, ‘Hey, I need a student who really needs to get an apartment. They just turned 18. They need a little more support, but they’re ready to take that next step,'” Jimenez says.