CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — There are so many beautiful aspects of Corpus Christi a resident or visitor can point out. One issue that has taken center stage recently that tends to get glossed over is the homelessness issue and its growing population.
A non-profit organization lending a helping hand is Mission 911.
The group was formed in 2001 for the sole purpose of helping displaced people gain back self-sufficiency.
For some, becoming homeless is a choice. For many others it's "unintended circumstances" such as alcohol or drug addictions, making bad choices, losing a job or a mental illness.
KRIS 6 News visited with Mission 911 Executive Director Tony Reyes to get a first-hand look at how Mission 911 works to get those who have fallen on hard times back on their feet again.
According to Reyes, approximately 85 percent of the homeless population that turn to Mission 911 have substance abuse issues, 25 percent of the homeless population has mental health issues, 98 percent of the residents have employments problems and 80 percent of the residents have requested spiritual guidance. As those individuals address the issues that have led them astray, they have a better chance of self-sufficiency and becoming a productive member in society. Sadly, Reyes says, about 40 percent of the population consists of the working poor and it is estimated that 3,500 individuals and families are homeless.
Mission 911 doesn't believe in handouts, but instead offering a helping hand to those in a crisis and wanting positive change. In 2018, they screened applications, conducted personal interviews and background checks, and accepted 530 individuals and families into its many available programs.
Housing is a huge part of what Mission 911 offers. Once accepted into a program, those who are helped technically are no longer homeless.
The organization offers a clean and secure place to sleep, food, clothing, job opportunities and transportation, along with other special-need requests, spiritual guidance and activities.
There are rules for staying at the facility. There are expectations for personal cleanliness, orderly housekeeping with weekly assignments, paying a nominal monthly rent, a curfew and a no-tolerance rule for any use of alcohol, drugs, profanity or aggressive behavior. Once an individual proves they can live in a joint, bunk-like setting, they become eligible for a more private living arrangement.
Making a good first impression is important when it comes to finding a job and taking that first step to positive change.
Another way Mission 911 helps is through its dentistry program. Based at 911 Park St., Project Lucia provides dental services for residents. The goal is to help the indigent, working poor and homeless families in need of dental work. The dental services offered are provided by Dr. Bill Whiteside, who volunteers his time and much of the dental equipment, such as dental tools, an x-ray machine and a dental chair.
Mission 911 also has a room it calls 'The Closet,' which consists of hundreds of clothing items of all types. It not only provides clothing needed, but also storage for the clothing residents already have.
Another source of help is the Alpha Program, which consists of a series of talks addressing key issues related to the Christian faith. The Alpha course consists of an hour dedicated for a meal, 45 minutes of talking and an hour of coffee and small group discussion.
Mission 911 is committed to helping to provide a better life and future for those who come through its doors.
In 2018, Reyes said it had a 22.6 percent success rate and helped 120 individuals and families make the positive changes necessary to become productive citizens in the community.
While the numbers may seem small to some, it's making a difference to many.
For those who make it through its 15-week Project Bridges Program, the success rate is 85 percent.
And with every success, Tony Reyes and his team are sure every person who walks through their doors has a chance to change and turn their lives around for the better.
It's the hope of Mission 911.
For more information about Mission 911, click here.