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COVID-19 protocols making it harder for local shelters to help homeless population

Because of COVID-19 protocols, The Salvation Army is running at 75% capacity and only has room for one or two more families at their Buford Street location.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The homeless population in Corpus Christi is rising, and local shelters are finding it harder to accommodate those in need. 

"We’re seeing more homeless people in Corpus Christi than we’ve ever had before and there’s a lot of reasons for that not only are folks out of work but they’re finding it harder to make bills and mortgage payments," Business Manager Emily Shafer of the Corpus Christi Salvation Army said. 

Shafer said because of COVID-19 protocols, they’re running at 75% capacity and only have room for one or two more families at their Buford Street location.

"We have fewer spaces people are staying longer and it’s taking much longer to find adequate housing for them and that’s just not us, this is happening to us it’s happening to all of our partners here in Corpus Christi,” Shafer said. 

Jennifer Buxton with the city’s homeless services department says at last count there were 830 homeless people in the city. Buxton said that about 20% of those folks are not in any kind of shelter and living out on the street. The top priority is to ensure that homeless families get help immediately.

"If a shelter is full and the family presents with a child, normally they are put up either in a hotel or immediate housing can be found for them. I cannot think of a situation where someone has been turned away with a child," Buxton said.

The Salvation Army admits that helping folks on the weekend is tough because they take appointments Monday through Friday. But if you find yourself homeless you can make one phone call that will get you the help you need.

"The absolute best number a person in need could call is 211. That is a hotline that is accessible across the state and you’re gonna be talking with a resource specialist and understand your local environment,” Shafer said. 

City manager Peter Zanoni says the city is working with several nonprofits to expand their capacity and to offer mental health and wellness on site to those folks. But, right now space for the homeless is limited because of the large homeless population and COVID-19 restrictions.