WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Faith Mission officials said the number of people who are homeless seeking services at its shelters around Wichita Falls is increasing more than they’re accustomed to seeing.
Steve Sparks, Faith Mission CEO, said COVID-19 has hit the homeless community especially hard and it’s not just locals seeking help in Texoma.
Life has not been easy for Michael Hawkins.
“My problem was that I was angry at God so I had no desire, didn’t want anything to do with him. You took my mom. You took my dad,” Hawkins said.
After losing both of his parents, he said he turned to drugs and ended up losing everything. But after three years of living on the streets and some time in jail, he turned to Wichita Falls Faith Mission.
“Life’s totally changed around compared to what it was seven years ago when it started. And slowly went downhill. I’m slowly getting myself back. I feel like a normal person again,” Hawkins said.
Reasons why Sparks said it’s important to keep the doors of his shelter open, even amid a global pandemic.
“When the fall and the colder weather started coming, we started seeing a steady increase of more and more coming in. We average about one or two intakes a day,” Sparks said.
Talking with residents at his shelters, he said hearing where people were coming from has been surprising, and is a sign of how bad things are getting.
“I know for sure from asking some of them that the services were just stretched in other areas, especially the metropolitan areas, the shelters were full. So they are coming to Wichita Falls seeking services,” Sparks said.
Essential services for people like Michael.
“They build you up here. They inspire you to go forward. There is nothing I could need or want at all,” Hawkins said.
Which is why Faith Mission’s doors remain open during this pandemic and will stay open just as safely and as long as possible.
All residents were evacuated to the nearby Salvation Army shelter, where they quarantined until the building could safely reopen.
Sparks said there was actually a dip in the number of people seeking shelter when the pandemic first began because people were scared of catching COVID-19.