During an economic recession, the number of homeless individuals may increase. In Fort Worth, however, a team of people connected to the university have worked to keep those numbers down.
Erin Taylor, a senior social work major, works as an intern for Catholic Charities’ Street Outreach Services (SOS) team.
“I didn’t really know a whole lot about the homeless population until I started working here,” Taylor said. “But now I love it and I want to stay in Fort Worth so I can keep doing it.”
The SOS team works one-on-one with homeless individuals.
The team visits homeless camps to form relationships. Then they help homeless clients set and achieve goals, such as obtaining an identification card.
“Very basic things that might be easy for you or I but are really difficult for people who don’t have resources,” Kim Bushlow, an SOS case manager, said.
In January, the Tarrant County Homeless Coalition (TCHC) conducted a homeless count. The results showed the number of homeless individuals in Tarrant County had gone down. According to Cindy Crain, executive director of the TCHC, the relationship-based efforts of the SOS team helped to reduce the number.
“Others, through this ongoing dialogue, have begun to trust and believe that this city, and the shelter services, care about them and they are seeking shelter rather than sustain life on the streets,” Crain said.
The most gratifying part of the job for Taylor and Bushlow is simple.
“Being able to see people make a difference in their own lives,” Taylor said.
“They went out and did it on their own and then they get to come back excited and tell me,” Bushlow said.
Bushlow said the team hopes to continue making a difference by forming relationships with homeless individuals.