Katy-area homeless population still suffering effects of COVID-19, recession

Hope Impacts has expanded its services to the Richmond and Rosenberg areas and is operating from an open space in their parking lot in order to follow CDC guidelines. (Courtesy Hope Impacts)
Hope Impacts has expanded its services to the Richmond and Rosenberg areas and is operating from an open space in their parking lot in order to follow CDC guidelines. (Courtesy Hope Impacts)

Hope Impacts has expanded its services to the Richmond and Rosenberg areas and is operating from an open space in their parking lot in order to follow CDC guidelines. (Courtesy Hope Impacts)

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Hope Impacts has expanded its services to the Richmond and Rosenberg areas and is operating from an open space in their parking lot in order to follow CDC guidelines. (Courtesy Hope Impacts)
Many Katy-area nonprofits have pivoted to virtual services or have continued to offer services in a drive-thru-only capacity, but much of the area homeless population does not have access to cars, phones or computers to use those services, said Tina Hatcher, founder and executive director of Hope Impacts, a local NGO serving the homeless population in the area.

Hatcher said the organization has been making adjustments to survive in the midst of the pandemic and the recession. The NGO has expanded its services to the Richmond and Rosenberg areas and is operating from an open space in their parking lot to follow CDC guidelines. Additionally, while the nonprofit's client base has increased, donations have decreased.

Staffers are handing out more supplies, such as sandwiches and food packs, than ever before, Hatcher said, and 74 newly homeless people have sought help between March and August.

"We have seen an increase in health conditions, and we can't go visit our clients in the hospital due to COVID-19 regulations," Hatcher said. "We usually provide a cooling center in the summer heat, but due to CDC guidelines, we cannot offer that comfort this summer either. We have had to deal with some plumbing issues due to an increase in the number of clients that are coming daily to take showers. Our system is not used to the volume of need we are seeing."

Most of the places in the Katy area where the homeless population could cool off, clean up, eat and charge their phones, if they have one, have been closed, Hatcher said.


"With no car, they can't go through a drive-thru, and with no address, they cannot have food delivered to them. There are limited resources for services for our population, and they depend on us to stay open and provide them with the things that they need. If we were to close, their health, their cleanliness, their food source, and their ability to get clean clothes, shoes and ongoing needed resources would be vastly decreased."

Monthly donations are down as members of the community have been coping with economic downturn is affecting them personally, she added, and three major fundraisers, which bring $50,000 in revenue, were postponed or canceled this year.

Hope Impacts has not received any government funds but is referring people to organizations that are getting COVID-19 relief funds to help families through the financial crisis, especially as related to layoffs.

The NGO is also getting housing replacement funding through the Houston Coalition for the Homeless and Harris County to help individuals experiencing homelessness attain housing faster and to get the requisite documents in order.

It is challenging right now for individuals to acquire those documents, given that the Social Security office is not open, birth certificates cannot be picked up and the DMV is operating by appointment only, Hatcher said. Additionally, most housing does not accept homeless ID's, she added.

The Katy Bubble Run, which was scheduled for March, was set to benefit local Katy nonprofits, such as Hope Impacts, Compassion Katy, Christ Clinic, The Ballard House and Katy Christian Ministries, but it was postponed until the week of Nov. 21- Dec. 1, when it will go on as a virtual race.

The annual golf tournament is scheduled for Nov. 16 at the Willowfork Country Club, and golfers and sponsors are still needed, Hatcher said.

"We trust that God will take care of our needs as He always has," Hatcher said. "We began with no funding, out of the backseat of my car and our garage, with donations from the community, and look what God has done. Faith over fear."
By Nola Valente
A native Texan, Nola serves as reporter for the Katy edition of Community Impact Newspaper. She studied print journalism at the University of Houston and French at the University of Paris-Sorbonne in France. Nola was previously a foreign correspondent in Jerusalem, Israel covering Middle East news through an internship with an American news outlet.


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