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Big Bend Continuum of Care works to address homelessness

Posted at 7:57 PM, May 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-17 19:57:24-04

Big Bend Continuum of Care is looking to find solutions for homelessness in our community. Johnna Coleman, executive director of Big Bend Continuum of Care, said their biggest hurdle is getting more service providers to help.

"In reality homelessness covers every sector, you may work with someone who is at risk of homeless, so we really need more service providers, these service providers are the ones who are already doing the work," said Coleman.

Coleman said the biggest issue facing our community is unsheltered homelessness and the visibility of homelessness. They're trying to address homelessness by collaborating with other organizations through a series of meetings.

"Looking at how other communities may be taking steps to address unsheltered homelessness, what options do we have to provide for people experiencing unsheltered homelessness? What are some of the alternatives and out of the box solutions?" Coleman asked.

Teresa Fillmon, director for His Kids Too, help feed the homeless every week at the Kearney Center. She said lack of affordable housing is a big part of the homeless problem... but also there's a lack of programming to help homeless people get back on their feet.

"There's a whole list of programs that need to be put in place or that we need to work cooperatively together to help this problem, one agency is not going to have the end all," said Fillmon.

Fillmon said one idea she's seen work in other cities is having a private encampment with services for the homeless.

"Men and women are separated, there's help directed towards women, there's help directed towards men. To have them set some goals, and boundaries, and rules, and all those kinds of things and not just be a place they're going to live forever," said Fillmon.

Coleman said service providers are already helping as best they can, but they need more help.

"We need mental health providers, we need healthcare providers, we need insurance providers, we need case management services. We really need a larger platform and for people to be involved in this work for us to see a significant change," said Coleman.

Wednesday was the second of three meetings. The third meeting will happen on May 31, where they'll discuss homeless prevention and rental assistance.