In January of this year, a point-in-time survey was conducted across the city (as well as the state) to get a “snapshot” of the current homeless population for both Lubbock and the state of Texas in order to assess demographics and to provide information for better short and long-term strategies.
For Lubbock, the survey revealed 397 homeless in the county which adjusts to an annualized number of 527. These figures do *not* account for people staying with relatives, in hotels, or in their cars, who would otherwise be without shelter. So, the numbers above do not give the whole picture, just a piece of a larger puzzle.
Some other interesting and concerning stats from the survey:
- 38.4% of the homeless population are female.
- the three most cited reasons for becoming homeless: a)unemployment (19%), b)inability to pay rent (which also points to a lack of affordable housing) (15%) and c) domestic violence (12%).
- The median age when those responding to the survey first became homeless: 38.5 yrs.
- 33% of respondents to the survey were born in Lubbock; 69% became homeless while living in Lubbock.
- 11.3% of the homeless surveyed were either married or single parents with children.
- 49.5% of those surveyed are unemployed. Those that work average 28.1 hrs/week with a median income of $300.
- 129 children were accounted for with a median age of 6.9yrs.
- 64% cited a need for medical care; 47% cited a need for dental care.
- Conditions respondents are receiving treatment for: Mental Illness – 45%; Drug Abuse – 45%; Alcohol abuse – 37%; other physical condition – 26.5%
Notice the challenges for the homeless in our city. They often suffer and are suffering through some kind of addiction. They are mostly unemployed and the half that do work make very little. Addictions and past offenses often make finding work next to impossible much less work that could provide income to sustain a permanent residence. Children make up almost a third of the population group.
I’m grateful for this information because it helps faith communities get a better understanding of what’s going on with the homeless of our city. Furthermore, this information helps us see where we can bring our resources and support so that the challenges facing these people can be addressed effectively. Churches cannot go at this alone. They should work together reaching out over the barriers that have so long separated them; And, in the name of Jesus, provide the means to help those in need.
It’s happening now in our city. Almost all of the downtown churches, for the first time in years, are coming together on this issue. It is a great thing to behold: Baptist, Methodist, Church of Christ, Catholic churches meeting together with a common goal to help a hurting community of people in need. As Jesus said, the poor will always be among us. For now, our challenge is to decide if we will accept a calling to care.