Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | January 3, 2013

Houston’s Homeless

The homeless are Houston’s hidden and hurting and most vulnerable inhabitants. According to a recent report in the Houston Chronicle, there are more than 7,300 homeless people in our city. However, if you expand the definition of homelessness to include those in shelters, other types of supportive housing, or in the Harris County jail, that number grows to almost 12,000. Even in our relatively mild winter weather, those homeless individuals who live on the streets are especially vulnerable to the cold.

In February 2011, we were privileged to meet Officer Jaime Giraldo who serves with the Houston Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Team. At that time, Kingsland supplied him with hundreds of coats, caps, gloves, and sleeping bags to distribute to folks living on the streets. Because many homeless people do not make it into warm shelters, the urgency of providing them with warm clothing was great. Since then, we have assisted the HPD Homeless Outreach Team with other needs.

Last week, Officer Giraldo stopped by to show us the new van that was donated to the Homeless Outreach Team by two philanthropic organizations. The van is equipped with a wheelchair lift and the latest computer technology to help officers connect the homeless with government services. The three HPD officers that are assigned to the Homeless Outreach Team go out daily to build relationships with the homeless. They also help them with practical needs and try to find out what it will take to help get them off the street.

HPD HOT Van

Amy Granger (Missions Ministry Assistant), Officer Giraldo, and my son, Jonathan.

This week, Kingsland is giving the Homeless Outreach Team several thousand dollars worth of new coats, caps, gloves, blankets, and backpacks to distribute to the homeless. We have also given the team some funds to help them with their efforts to help those in need to be reunited with family living outside of Houston and, in some cases, outside of the state. We appreciate Officer Giraldo and those who serve on the Homeless Outreach Team and are thankful for our partnership in helping Houston’s homeless. As in previous years, the gifts that we give are sure to warm lots of hearts in the coming days.

HPD HOT Jackets

New coats and backpacks for the homeless.


Responses

  1. I was wondering if there was still going to be a coat drive since the new items were given. That new van sounds fantastic, but so thankful for the wonderful officers who care. My cousin is one if the good guys at HPD (not that I”m proud or anything– ha!)
    Sue Ann

    • We are not having a coat drive yet, Sue Ann. Because the need is so urgent we opted to meet it quickly by buying the items needed the most. If it looks like we will need to do more then we will consider having a coat drive as we have in years past. Glad to hear your cousin is with HPD.

  2. Wow, 3 officers assigned for the thousands of homeless on our streets. This is a good reminder that we can’t look the other way and should have our eyes and hearts open to help when we see the need. Thanks for always reminding us that the least of these are all around us.

    • Yes, the homeless task force is too small for a city like Houston. I am thankful for the churches and faith-based groups that do so much to help the homeless. It will take each of us doing our part to help the least of these.

  3. […] Houston’s Homeless (gobeyondblog.com) […]

  4. Awesome Omar of the world!! Love you all and miss you! Keep pressing on 🙂

    • Hey, Christy of the Nile! Great to hear from you. Love you all. Stay warm up there where it’s cold 🙂

  5. I wonder if Houston would hire more police officers in the homeless task force if churches, individuals and corporations around Houston would come together to pay their salary? Has anyone ever suggested this? Seems like a much bigger task force is needed and if folks were made aware of this need, that this would be a worthy cause to invest in.

    • More officers on the task force would indeed be helpful. Thankfully the Houston Homeless Outreach Team has a great working relationship with other individuals, churches, and ministries that reach out to the homeless. This is a great way to lend a hand and to take some of the pressure off of the task force. It’s possible we may see more officers join the team in the future. Thanks for your good comment.


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