ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – While multiple nonprofits across Abilene met last week to discuss how the city can return to a ‘functional zero’ amount of residents experiencing homelessness, another dire situation arose: Heat.
Because weather conditions across the country have been hot, dry and windy, it can be be dangerous not only for our local flora and fauna, but for the Abilenians who have to be outside on a daily basis.
“I always taught myself how to survive,” Ricky Hanson, a man who has been homeless for two years, said.
Evicted from his apartment after his wife passed away in 2020 because he was unable to keep up with the bills on his own, Hanson said he’s struggled with mental health.
“I came close to taking my life, and then I thought, ‘no she wouldn’t want me to do that,’” Hanson revealed.
As Hanson fights to survive on the daily, he seeks out shaded areas or places indoor to cool down during this heat. He often goes into the public library to cool off, and he even rides the city links buses just to get out of the heat.
Local nonprofit, Christian Service Center, told KTAB/KRBC more people come sit in their foyer just to cool off, just like Hanson sits in the library.
“With the summer does come the heat, but this summer is just brutal,” said Joe Arguijo, Operations Manager with Christian Service Center.
They allow people to get comfortable in their building during the hours they are open, along with assisting them with other needs- including refreshments, lunches or a change of clothes.
Arguijo said the center usually offers visitors a shower. But because their shower is broken, they work with other nonprofits that have this option, like the Salvation Army of Abilene.
Salvation Army offers showers most mornings and reopened their cooling space – available until 4:00 p.m. during the day. They then exchange their seats for cots, allowing people to sleep there from 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 the next morning.
Hanson explained how crucial these spaces are for some people experiencing homelessness.
“A lot of homeless elderly people that could use the cooling areas because of their ages and their health,” Hanson said.
Even though he says he can survive despite the heat, Hanson said his fears lie with others who may not be able to handle the Texas summers.
Since Christian Service center is a nonprofit, they have to find the funds to fix things like their broken shower. To donate to this organization, call (325) 673-7531.