By Heather Regula, Correspondent
The Annual Homeless Assessment Report, released by The Department of Housing and Urban Development, consists of one night counts obtained annually in late January. The statistics provided in the report, while far from perfect and variable with weather and other factors, are staggering. On any given night in 2016, over half a million people are homeless in the United States. Approximately two-thirds of the homeless individuals were staying in emergency shelters or transitional housing, while nearly one-third were in unsheltered areas. Children made up roughly 22 percent of the national homeless population, and the majority of the homeless are over the age of 24. In Texas alone, there are an estimated 23,000 homeless people.
The good news here is that these numbers are on the decline – with the homeless population in Texas decreasing by over 10,000 in about ten years. At the same time, our state population has grown by about 13 percent. Funding earmarked for reducing homelessness, and the dedication of people willing to work hard to make a change has made an impact on the statistics.
Diana Roberts, the owner of Tirzah in downtown Belton, is ready to join the ranks of dedicated people working together to make a difference.
“We are hoping to warm the hearts of the homeless in our community two feet at a time by collecting socks for the homeless and raising awareness of their plight,” explained Roberts. “We will have a Sock Box at our entrance until December 20, and then we will donate the socks to an organization that helps the homeless.”
Roberts has a Master’s Degree in Public Health and has a solid understanding of the challenges the homeless face. Serious foot problems can arise from the lack of clean and dry footwear.
“We are placing each pair of socks into a Ziploc bag with a note of encouragement, Bible verse, and a candy cane. This sock drive is something everyone can help with! We need socks for all age groups and genders,” stated Roberts.
Socks can be dropped at Tirzah during regular business hours, through Dec. 20.