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Addressing Homelessness in Lamar County

United WayParis /Lamar County homelessness services have an extensive history of tragedy, corruption and mismanagement.

There is a mistrust and a public perception that homelessness is not an issue in our small community. Moreover, agencies providing services to these individuals have seen an increasing loss in funding.

To address the need in our community and provide a united front – the organizers of the Lamar County Homelessness Coalition (LCHC) sought guidance from the Texas Homeless Network. With their mentoring they assembled an extensive group of key stakeholders and began to find permanent solutions for addressing our community’s needs.

In July 2013, Lamar County Homelessness Coalition (LCHC) was formed to identify challenges and homelessness needs in our community.  Take Christine, who works at a fast food restaurant during the night shirt and her 17 year old daughter works there during the day. They are working homeless living in a weekly rate hotel, splitting shifts so one of them can take care of the young children living in their care. They cannot escape their situation and they live in fear that they will end up on the streets.

The focus to date has been on defining the scope of our community’s housing challenges, understanding the dynamics, economic underpinnings, social, psychological and other variables that contribute to housing challenges, and then finding solutions.

Coalition members represent a cross-section of partners…business, faith based, government, hospitals, non-profit and foundations who share a common interest in this priority.

LCHC Accomplishments to date:

  • Texas Homeless Network training “Continuum of Care” and “Maximizing Collaborations that 50+ key stakeholders attended. Developed a local relationship with this agency that administers federal funding related to housing and homelessness.
  • Convened stakeholders for regular monthly meetings to address homelessness in ourcommunity. For the first time, local entities have joined efforts to address homelessness/challenges facing our community.
  • Developed By-Laws and established Executive Committee to work on governance and organization.
  • Formed committees to identify availability of and gaps in service: Emergency/Imminent Danger; Transitional housing for women/children; Youth (boys and girls) long/short term; Men’s shelter; Prevention / Rental Assistance; Churches; Data Collection; Awareness/Publicity
  • Identified, advertised, and distributed local services guides (published by Head Start,Paris/Lamar County Health Department, then conducted an Unmet Needs Assessment to address gaps).
  • Performed the first ever multi-agency “Point-In-Time” held January. This is a critical activitythat helps us understand the scope of homelessness in our community.

The Lamar County Homelessness Coalition is looking for others who would like to help fight homelessness. If you are interested in learning more or becoming involved the LCHC invites you to attend one our monthly meetings (1st Thursday each month).

The next meeting is scheduled for 12pm, Thursday, August 7, 2014 at Paris Regional Medical Center, South Campus Cafeteria.

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