CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS — While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for an eviction moratorium are now up in the air following a Texas federal judge declaring them unconstitutional, the city is following another set of CDC guidelines designed to help the homeless.
A North Side homeless camp has grown significantly since we last visited three weeks ago, and because of the CDC’s pandemic guidelines, this camp is protected.
“It’s a makeshift home, but we still call it home,” said Angel Gomez.
Gomez has been at the camp for about two weeks. To him it’s more than a camp, it’s a community.
“Here we don’t consider it as friends or homeboys, we consider it family because we’re helping each other out,” said Gomez.
The CDC guidance on unsheltered homeless is clear. If there are no options available, encampments should be allowed to remain where they are. The CDC believes clearing camps could spread COVID-19. So far, the city has complied.
“They’re following that guidance, that’s why some of the Code Enforcement officers who tried to run everybody out the park a couple days ago were told to back off,” said homeless advocate Fr. Bruce Wilson.
“We’re not here to start major chaos here, we’re just trying to make it,” said Gomez.
As the pandemic has limited shelters’ capacity, more homeless arrive at the camp everyday and space will soon be an issue. Advocates like Wwilson recognize the camp can’t be a permanent home for the homeless.
“It’s not really set up for a homeless community, but it’s not by any means the ideal solution,” said Wilson.
Next month, the city council is expected to solicit proposals from developers for the Safe Harbor Shelter. Wilson says Safe Harbor will help, but isn’t the final answer and he doesn’t know what is.
Meanwhile, Gomez and those around him are grateful someone cares.
“We actually have people looking out for us, trying to help us get back on our feet,” said Gomez.
As the city moves towards Safe Harbor and beyond, advocates would like a homeless voice at the table to give leaders first-hand insight into what the community needs.
Even though space at the camp is limited, city officials say there are no plans to allow the homeless to camp in other city parks.