Beaumont approves grant application for funds meant to combat homelessness

Community Development Director Chris Boone (right) said that like any city its s
The city proclaimed March as Red Cross Month.

At its regular meeting March 24, the Beaumont City Council approved a measure ultimately meant to combat homelessness in the city.

The council voted unanimously to authorize City Manager Kyle Hayes to apply to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) for Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

In background information prepared by Community Development Director Chris Boone pertaining to the measure and presented to council members for consideration, approval of the resolution was recommended “given the extent of the homeless problem within our community.”

Police say tent cities have popped up in several locations throughout the city, and as law enforcers break up one camp, it is soon replaced by another. Most of them have been on private properties, and often the business owners of affected establishments have called police to complain, resulting in the officers shooing away the homeless people who are camping out wherever they can pitch a tent. 

Many have no place to go, but local nonprofit organizations who serve the homeless community are doing their best to provide them with necessities and shelter.

“We do have them, for sure,” Boone said of tent cities. “A city of any size is going to have (homelessness). I can’t say we have more or less, but it’s a tough issue because you’ve got substance abuse, mental health issues, and at least a certain percentage – I’ve heard anywhere up to 12 percent – veterans. It’s a difficult, difficult problem. These monies will come from the state to us. We will distribute them to local nonprofits like Some Other Place, Catholic Charities, Family Services, the Regional Planning Commission. We disseminate them out to them, and they will provide to the clients directly.”

Boone said if the city is awarded grant funds subsequent to the application they submit, the amount is expected to be $266,735.

Also during the meeting, Mayor Becky Ames welcomed Lamar University honor students sitting in the council chambers observing. Associate Professor of Political Science Dr. Bianca Easterly accompanied the students on the educational outing.

Also, the city proclaimed March as Red Cross Month and presented the proclamation to Executive Director Chester Jourdan and staff during the meeting.

The city recognized the YMBL for its contributions to the community, including and especially for bringing the South Texas State Fair to Beaumont each year.

The city also celebrated a collaborative effort by Beaumont Fire-Rescue and the Texas Forest Service in creating and implementing a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP), a Wildland-Urban Interface plan.

“We developed a relationship over the last couple of years with the Texas Forest Service and have greatly benefited the community through this partnership. I see it as being a great benefit in the future years at no cost to the city,” Beaumont Fire Chief Anne Huff told the council.

According to Huff, the state would assist in development of the plan, which would likely cover about 18,000 acres and potentially impact more than 25,000 city residents that could be affected by wildfires.

 

Sharon Brooks can be reached at (409) 832-1400, ext. 241, or by e-mail at sharon [at] theexaminer [dot] com.

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