Homelessness HELP

Community’s impact on rising numbers in homelessness

An increasing problem in Stephenville that not many people know about is the amount of people that are without homes. With the housing market shooting up, many people can not afford the price of houses in the area or the utilities that accompany them.

In February 2022, the prices of houses in Stephenville had increased by  ten percent in a single year. This increase has added on to the skyrocket of housing prices that resulted from the housing market recession during the early months of the COVID-19  pandemic. Since many homeowners no longer needed to commute to work, they were more inclined to purchase homes in rural areas. However, this caused people to bid up the price of homes and an explosion in the price of housing.  

Additionally, low income housing is disappearing from the area. Housing options, such as mobile home parks and less subsidized government housing, are decreasing in numbers. This problem has effects on a wide range of age groups, from retired senior citizens to college students sleeping in their vehicles.

The city  of Stephenville has seen some extraordinary efforts to combat homelessness in the area. One of the places that we see making an impact on these efforts is at the Graham Street Church of Christ. 

The Homelessness HELP (Hope, Encouragement, Love and Passion) organization at the Graham Street Church of Christ offers free lunch on the second and fourth Saturday of each month for those  that are struggling to financially support themselves. They started the program a little over two years ago and have recently been undergoing the legal process to become a non-profit organization.

David Bearden is a minister at the Graham Street Church of Christ and one of the board members for homelessness help. He is a big advocate for the homelessness issue in Stephenville and the growth of the community. 

“It is a team effort, it can not be done by just a few people. No matter how great our hearts are to reach out, we have to do this together,” Bearden stated.

Many people from the Tarleton and Stephenville community have worked alongside each other to accomplish the same goal of combatting homelessness. From the students of Tarleton Serves and the efforts of many Tarleton professors to the Stephenville police and fire departments, the people of the community want to see change and dedicate themselves to helping those in need.

Bearden states that some of their biggest challenges have been trying to get the traction to get going. Many homeless people are afraid to reach out because they do not realize that there are people that want to help and have their best interest in mind, or do not want to be viewed differently for their struggles.

Another issue has been finding funding to help these people get back on their feet whether it be from a sudden loss of housing, temporary housing after a disastrous event, or transitional housing to get people off the street and to be self-sustaining. The members of the Homelessness Help board are thankful for the efforts from the community and other groups that help make what they do possible.

For anyone interested in reaching out for further details you can call 254-595-3656 or email [email protected]