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'Rent here is outrageous now': Waco homeless struggle with rising housing costs

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WACO, Texas — The Waco homeless population has been decreasing over the years. Now the city is working to bring that number to zero, but some people like Robert Brown, who's lived in Waco his whole life, aren't sure it can be done.

"Waco has changed a lot now," he said. "It's changed a whole lot."

One of the biggest changes he referred to is the drastic hike in rent.

"Rent here is outrageous now," Brown said. "It's gotten too expensive for anybody."

For the last six years, Brown faced homelessness but has been working hard to get back on his feet. He said while he does collect social security, it's not enough to get by.

"There's no way I can get a place on what I get every month," Brown said. "I try to find little jobs to do to get extra money to survive every day. It's hard because no one wants to give you a chance. They see you carrying your stuff, they know you're homeless and don't want to hire you. I've tried."

The Heart of Texas Homeless Coalition is working together with the city of Waco to address some of the challenges. They recently released a 'Strategic Plan for Ending Homelessness.

"So the ultimate goal of the plan is to figure out how to fill the gaps we have in our community and how to set about priorities for when funding becomes available," Board Chairperson for the Heart of Texas Homeless Coalition Nicole Wiscombe told 25 News earlier in the week.

The plan looks to tackle unemployment and poverty, mental health and substance abuse, and rising housing costs, which Brown said is the most prominent.

"They just need to do affordable housing for people and I ain't talking about $1200 a month," Brown said. "Maybe $300, $500 a month. That I could maybe afford but that's about it."

The groups say they're looking for community feedback on the plan and encourage the public to attend their next meeting on Monday at 6:00 at the Dewey Community Center.