Overcrowding in Homeless Shelters Worse than Years Past

It is estimated that on any given day, there are about 3,000 homeless people on the streets of Corpus Christi.

In the past, most would choose to sleep on the streets during the warm summer months, but for some reason, it's not happening that way this year.

Two of Corpus Christi's biggest shelters are reporting they are filled to capacity.

Both the Good Samaritan and the Salvation Army shelters are reporting an overwhelming number of people looking for places to stay, and they say there are two reasons behind it all: the heat and the economy.

"It's really crowded. We've got mattresses on the floor, every inch of the place," said Donnie Cooksey, chief of operations at the Good Samaritan Rescue Mission. "As a matter of fact, if it gets any more full than last night, we're actually going to have to start putting mattresses in here and in the coffee house."

Cooksey said that normally, during the summer, they provide shelter for about 100 people; but this year, the number has rarely dipped below 200. They were at capacity, serving 213 people Thursday.

A few blocks down the street, the Salvation Army has run out of space too. Their family shelter is full, as is their shelter for men.

"It is overwhelming. We've not had an empty room all year long, and as a matter of fact, we had an empty room a family left early in the day, and by four o'clock we had somebody occupying it," said Valentine Garcia, case manager at Salvation Army.

Unlike in past years, when it was mostly younger to middle-aged men, the make up of the people who turn to these facilities for help is changing.

"This year it's crazy," Garcia said. "We're ranging in age from 18 all the way up to 75 or 80-years old; and I've never seen it like this before. Ever. Usually what we've been having is people 35 to, you know, 60. More families are coming through. Age of the children are a bit older. Thing of it is, single parents with no help with childcare are having a hard time finding a job that pays enough to be self-sufficient and maintain an apartment."

While the Good Sam Rescue Mission is preparing to expand to a 300-bed facility, that is still a few years away, and the Salvation Army tells us they are also looking to expand, but there is no timeline for that.


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