Man Claims Brownsville Shelter’s Assistance Falls Short
BROWNSVILLE – A Brownsville family is struggling and they are requesting the homeless shelter to do more to help them find a place to live.
Robert Roiz spent the day filling out applications on South Padre Island, hoping to find temporary work during the busy spring break season.
He did that while his wife and two children waited in the vehicle.
“I’m trying to get a job, any job, to provide for my family right now that we are struggling,” he said.
They have been staying at the Ozanam Homeless Shelter in Brownsville since Feb. 15. Roiz is thankful to have a place to sleep but said the conditions haven’t been ideal.
“There were bed bugs, ants – not small, little ants, fire ants inside the room. There were cockroaches, big and little. The restrooms smelled as if they hadn’t been cleaned in months,” Roiz said.
He’s been trying to find a home for his family through the Rapid Rehousing Program that the shelter offers. The program pays for people’s first three months of rent at an approved home or apartment.
Roiz claimed staff hasn’t approved any housing unit that he was suggested and said his limited 30-day stay at the shelter is up in a week.
“I feel more neglected. I feel like they are doing whatever they want to help out the people that have been there a long time that they already know better. I don’t know what it is,” he said.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS took Roiz’s complaints to the executive director of the shelter, Victor Maldonado.
He said so far Roiz has only submitted three housing units for review. He said the funding for the rehousing program comes from the Housing and Urban Development Department and it’s overseen by the city of Brownsville.
Roiz’s picks for housing haven’t been approved because they don’t meet the program guidelines. And disregarding those rules could prove costly for the shelter.
“When we get audited by the city or the state, we end up paying for it, the shelter because they don’t reimburse us for that. They’ll just tell us so many units did not pass, you paid $600 for three months, so you owe us now,” Maldonado said.
The other road bump for the Roiz family in securing a home is that they have an outstanding bill with the Brownsville Public Utilities Board.
If they can’t get utilities, the shelter can’t approve them for funding.
Maldonado admitted the living conditions could be better but they provide what they can.
“We are, you know, not a five-star hotel. We have the units that we have, and we try to manage them as best as we can and as clean as we can,” he said.
He added Roiz’s stay at the shelter will be reviewed when his 30-day period is up next week. If he’s shown legitimate effort to find work and a home, his family’s stay there could be extended.
There are some renovations planned for the Ozanam Homeless Shelter. The center was recently awarded a $375,000 grant from the Kennedy Foundation. It will be used to renovate the dining room, kitchen and bathrooms.
Besides that, the building of a $200,000 training facility is also underway there thanks to a separate grant.