WACO, TX — The Cove, a teen homeless shelter that caters to the homeless students of Waco ISD, will be losing its city funding during the 2019-2020 school year.
"Many of our students have spent the night in a laundry mat or in an abandoned building or in their cars," said The Cove's Executive Director Kelly Atkinson.
The Cove estimated that last year, over a fifth of the shelters budget came from the City of Waco.
Atkinson said The Cove's connection to the city, and her appreciation, helped their funding over the last year.
"One reason we can be so lean is because of the buy in from our community," Atkinson said.
Open to homeless teens since October 2016, The Cove describes themselves as a nurturing drop-in center. It offers mental and physical healthcare, food, case management, tutoring, laundry services and personal hygiene products.
Atkinson explained that Waco ISD, during the 2018-19 school year, identified 330 students to be homeless, which she explained can have a couple meanings.
According to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, there are two different types of legislation.
Atkinson explained the two most common types of teen homelessness she sees come through The Cove are literal homelessness, and imminent risk of homelessness. Which she describes as teens not having a stable environment.
"Obviously they would want to be home if they could and that was a safe place and if their were safe adults there taking care of them. They have been among us and yet what we say is that they like to try to stay invisible, they're not carrying a sign around that says, 'I don't know where I'm going to be tonight,'" said Atkinson.
Now with the new 20 percent budget funding defect, it's the community who could make the biggest difference for the shelter.
"The needs of our youth are very complex so that's why it is important for us to raise funds so that we can have highly qualified staff. Those partnerships in the community, so we can provide those layers of support of mental healthcare, of physical healthcare of food,"said Atkinson. "You know the cost to our community if we don't invest in these youth now is much higher, so every high school dropout is said to cost its community around $300,000 over the course of that persons lifetime in terms of lost tax revenues and in terms of public dollars that go towards supporting that person."
For more information, or to volunteer funds, time or food please call (254) 224-6095.