ABILENE, Texas (KTAB) – In the final City Council meeting of 2018, Abilene Police Chief Stan Standridge led an update on a community-wide effort to reduce homelessness. Using one example, a man named Bob, Standridge helped show what’s possible when Abilene comes together to solve a problem.
Community Foundation of Abilene president Katie Alford explains, “Our role in this has really been a neutral party on the homeless issue, and getting to be a facilitator or convener, and getting to be a part of the solution when these nonprofits come to the table and really try to tackle this by being on the same page and really focusing on it.”
When the nonprofits join forces, solutions are created. In Bob’s case, Chief Standridge asked, “‘Bob, do you want to get out from this overpass?’ He said, ‘yes, but I don’t have an ID, so I can’t.’ I said, ‘Bob, do you realize there are people willing to connect you with the resources to get that ID, to get you out?’ He said, ‘I’m interested’.”
Part of the solution is making sure the best options are presented to the homeless. Standridge describes it as stopping charity and promoting philanthropy: “We need to encourage our citizens to stop stopping in intersections to hand a dollar bill or a five dollar bill to a person soliciting in the roadway. Because that does nothing to curb actual homelessness.”
Although, as Michelle Parrish of the Community Foundation explains, “We know that not all of the individuals that enter our coordinated entry system will find success and stability. And we do know that some of them will return to homelessness.”
When it comes to Bob, “He currently occupies a room at Hope Haven II”, says Standridge. “He is no longer underneath our overpass. Bob is a success story.”