In-Depth: Resources are available for people in Waco who are struggling with rent, homelessness

Posted at 9:12 AM, May 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-31 10:26:38-04

WACO, TX — Tuesday marks the beginning of June, the final month the eviction moratorium.

And with that rent is top of mind as people still face financial challenges due to COVID-19.

The pandemic put many people in a tight spot as businesses closed, and people lost their jobs.

"If you keep going up on rent, you're going to lose your tenants" says a Waco renter who wanted to remain anonymous in fear of getting kicked out of his apartment."

They say since they moved in 4 years ago the rent has nearly doubled from $740 to $1,200 +.

"It's not fair how they do us, that's ridiculous, we have kids, we got to feed them, we got to survive."

Staff at the leasing office didn't want to go on camera but say the raise in rent is to accommodate for repairs and upgrades from the complex's previous owners.

They also say the cost is keeping pace with market price, but financial assistance is available through the city.

"We do want to let the community know that they're not out there alone and so that's why we're working every day to look at our funding and see how we can implement various programs to assist those different demographics." Raynesha Hudnell, the Interim community services director, City of Waco.

Hudnell says the city has a rental assistance program with $7.7M in reserves for up to 15 months of rental assistance.

"Yes, we've had a lot of applications, but we can accept more. And so this funding is here for the community and we're looking to disperse this money to the community. " says Hudnell.

To qualify you must have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, meet an income limit, and have had a reduction in income.

Hudnell says apartment complexes are allowed to raise their rent, at the risk of possibly losing tenants.

"Especially in this area rents are skyrocketing and people can't afford a normal rental situation" Beth Chiles with Spring Hope Homes

Spring hopes home is also a resource in Waco for single adult men.
The organization provides all-inclusive affordable furnished homes for men who may be in a tight spot.

"And we provide an opportunity where they can find safe housing, in a shared environment so it is more affordable." says Chiles.

The renter tells that they unfortunately don't qualify for the city's rental program, but is looking into what it would take to purchase their own house.

Affordable housing in the area has become more difficult to find.

The organization NeighborWorks in Waco says because Waco has become more popular over the years, the cost of home purchases has been rising.

The organization which helps home buyers prepare for a purchase says they've been able to help people get qualified, but the challenge has been finding something within their price range.

"And so the key to being successful in all of this is is making sure that your affordability is there, that you don't buy something above your means, and that you also set a budget. A budget is important because in today's life we have to make sure that whatever we venture out to financially that we're able to afford to take on those additional debts and responsibilities." says Delisa Burnell-Smith
the Vice President & Chief Operating Officer of NeighborWorks.

NeighborWorks says people should always plan ahead.

They recommend having 3 to 6 months of extra funds in case an emergency is to happen.

For families struggling to get through the pandemic, the youth may find themselves in a homeless situation.

Well today the DOBEY Drop-In Center in Waco hosted a one stop shop of resources to help the youth recover.

The event called "Hope Rally and Resource Fair" was a collaboration of youth homelessness program partners.

It was for homeless youth ages 25 and under who need resources on how to get an id, how to get benefits, housing and transportation.

All in a fun, stress free way to make sure everyone feels safe.

"We've been working on trying to connect youth with known partners in the community that they already work with and feel safe with to come and bring them here and so by doing an event like this we can all bring youth that we're working with all here to one space and almost cross-pollinating, getting to know each other." says Nicole Wiscombe the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program Director for Klaras Center for Families.

Organizations such as Brothers for Others Ministry were also at the event giving out backpacks filled with essentials such as toiletries, food, water and other essentials a homeless youth may need to get by.

The DOBEY Drop-In Center is open Monday through Friday 8-5.

The center has only been open for a couple of months and say they've served about 30 youth.

In total about 40 organizations were represented at Friday's event.