CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Facebook group Flour Bluff Homelessness Issues Think Tank formed in late January, and its founder has big plans for the people living on the streets of his community.
Joshua White works for the owner of an abandoned apartment complex on Skipper Lane. White says he plans to buy it from him at a good price and convert it into an affordable housing complex for the homeless in that area.
“I firmly believe that having a home -- even before you have yourself all worked out -- it gives you that ability, that dignity, that pride to kind of wake up in the morning and feel like you’re a regular human being,” he said.
White should know. He says he spent seven years homeless himself. White hopes people will be compassionate to people on the street and support him in his affordable-housing efforts.
“Most people are about a paycheck away from being homeless these days," he said. "People don’t realize that.”
White has met with the city's newly formed Homeless Outreach Department. The department's coordinator didn't have the specifics of White's proposal, but supports the concept.
“Accessible and affordable housing -- there’s a tremendous need for that here in Corpus Christi," said Homeless Outreach Coordinator Emily Shafer Northrup said. "And I think that creative approaches like redevelopment of a hotel or apartment complex could really address that need. And so long as it complies with the unified development code, and it fits within the parameters set by development services, I’m really excited about the potential for a project like that here in Corpus Christi."
White still needs to obtain final approval and funding before any renovations could begin. The complex has 26 apartments, but he might split each one in half with common kitchens and bathrooms to accommodate more people.
The only other factor holding him back is what everyone is facing these days -- the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were trying to do more, but then COVID-19 happened, and all that momentum just kind of stopped," White said. "So we’re trying to get the balls back rolling now that we’re easing up on social distancing and quarantine restrictions.”