Harlingen Shelter Expanding Services to Prevent Homelessness

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HARLINGEN –  A Rio Grande Valley shelter is working to find permanent homes for the homeless.

The program focuses on people like Sergio Huerta. Huerta told CHANNEL FIVE NEWS when he lost his job, his world crumbled around him. 
Huerta said despite his work ethic he lost his job and home in a matter of months. He said he has no family here in the Valley.

"My mom, right now she's in Mexico, and I haven't been able to talk to her, to see her since I have no phone or nothing,” he said. “And I lost all the contacts for all the people.”

Huerta sleeps on the street now. He said every night is a battle to find a safe place to rest.

"I'll go somewhere like to a little shed or an abandoned house or something. That's where I stay," he added.

He said Loaves and Fishes helps him through the ordeal.

"They give me something to eat every day, at least when I don't have no money nothing. And they've let me stay here a couple of times," he told CHANNEL 5 NEWS.

Loaves and Fishes Executive Director Bill Reagan said permanent help for Huerta is on the way. He is referring to the Rapid Rehousing program.

"Rapid rehousing is for people who are already literally homeless, who are staying in a shelter, who are living on the street or living in a place that is not meant for human habitation," he explained.

Reagan said, starting Nov. 1, the program will have an extra $86,000 in the next year. The extra cash comes from a grant administered by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs.

Reagan said this will help people like Huerta along with a Loaves and Fishes case worker, develop a plan to get back in a home.

"Within 30 days, to be able to get them into some kind of suitable housing. We don't have anyone stay longer than 30 days because we're able to provide this rapid rehousing," he said.

Reagan added the program is handled on a case-to-case basis.

He notes Rapid Rehousing is just one of the programs receiving extra funds from the grant. He said the Homeless Prevention Program also assists those who are on the verge of losing a home and is also receiving funds.

Reagan said Loaves and Fishes estimates there are approximately 300 homeless people in Harlingen. He said the same estimates have 2,000 to 2,500 people staying doubled-up with family members.


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