WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — According to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, as of 2020, more than 27,000 Texans were experiencing homelessness on any given day, and right here in Wichita Falls, those numbers seem to be steadily rising.
Executive Director for Wichita Falls Faith Mission Steve Sparks said these numbers could be a mix of long-lasting COVID effects when it comes to employment, but also, inflation having a big impact on our economy.
Over the past two weeks, two bodies have been found due to the heavy smell of decomposition. Both bodies are believed to be homeless individuals, something that Sergeant Charlie Eipper with the Wichita Falls Police Department said he’s noticed an increase in.
“I think just seeing more folks walking around the downtown area, especially Brook Street and Holliday and Broad, a lot of folks walking around sitting underneath the overheads, I think just a type of protection from the sun and some shade, especially in this really hot summer that we’re having,” Eipper said.
Not only are officers seeing more foot traffic, but Sparks has also noticed more traffic inside his shelter.
“The heat does drive them in but we’re seeing higher numbers all across the board probably for the past six to eight months,” Sparks said.
Currently, the Faith Mission is roughly 65% full, Sparks said he believes one reason for the uptick in numbers could be due to inflation.
“It’s just a theory, but I believe it’s the economy because we’re starting to see people come in from out of town. We’re averaging one or two intakes every night,” Sparks said.
Something that Eipper agreed with.
“Maybe the economy, maybe just places that were housing them just can’t anymore because they’re tapped out,” Eipper said.
Sparks said with more clients comes a need for more clothing, beds, and food, he said that’s where the community can step in and lend a helping hand.
“I think the best way that the community can help us is with donations of food and clothing and those kinds of things. It helps us because we don’t have to go and buy a lot of food whenever it’s donated to us. Canned goods and those kinds of things are really really helpful to us,” Sparks said.
Helping to prepare an organization that could see record numbers by winter.
If you would like to make a donation to the Faith Mission or the Women ‘s Faith Refuge, click here.