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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

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San Marcos must keep up with rising homelessness

San+Marcos+must+keep+up+with+rising+homelessness
Sophie Pickerrell

Editor’s note: This story incorrectly stated that the Hays County Women’s Shelter was a homeless shelter. This change has been reflected.

Homelessness is on the rise in Texas, growing by 12% in 2023 alone. While that is around average in the U.S., that fact is little consolation for the whopping 27,000 Texans who are forced to spend their nights without a roof over their heads.

In Hays County, almost 250 individuals were considered homeless in 2024, and only 111 of them are sheltered, whether temporarily or long-term.

Although a number of resources are available to the San Marcos homeless population, it is clear more must be done. The city itself should do this by funding aid and shelter programs. In addition, Texas State should promote and encourage student volunteering in these programs.

It would be incorrect to say San Marcos is doing nothing to help the less fortunate within its community. Three shelters in San Marcos provide aid and housing to those who need it. Two, Southside Community Center and Home Center provide temporary housing alongside additional resources such as food, clothing and assistance in job searching.

The final one, the San Marcos Housing Authority, provides long-term shelter to over half a thousand households. The organization’s main focus, however, is on low-income families struggling to meet rent, not individuals without any income and already homeless. It could be seen as a preventative measure, to an extent, but it does little to help those unfortunate enough to have already fallen into homelessness.

The closest attempt to mitigate that problem came from a non-profit project called Eden’s Village, intended to establish a small community for those without housing. The formerly homeless members of that community would live together and support each other in their journey back into society. With no update in over two years, however, and housing costs ever on the rise, the actual possibility of the idea’s realization remains unfortunately slim.

The best and arguably easiest solution for the city of San Marcos would be to establish a shelter for its homeless population. Austin is currently handling homelessness in a similar way, with the city allocating around $3 million to homeless shelters in January 2024 alone.

Along with establishing funding for homeless shelters, rehabilitation is an important aspect of aiding the homeless.

Igor Kilimenko, a senior-level volunteer at St. John’s Give Hope Foundation, a homeless aid & shelter organization headquartered in New York, said he believes addiction is the main culprit when it comes to rising homelessness.

“I was homeless for a long time myself,” Kilimenko said. “In my experience, the only thing that makes homelessness chronic is alcohol or drug addiction. That’s it. Get someone clean, and you’ll get them off the streets.”

For those in San Marcos struggling with a form of addiction, resources are available. Alcoholics Anonymous in San Marcos meets multiple times a day, every day of the week, with even online options, and there are several drug rehab centers in the city like The Freedom Center and Amethyst Recovery.

While such resources do not necessarily help the homeless with their immediate needs, they are absolutely crucial in lifting them out of homelessness and into a better life long term. However, problems like addiction cannot be addressed until a person’s basic needs are met, such as food and shelter.

For students at Texas State, volunteering is one of the best ways to aid homelessness in the city. Living in San Marcos means students are members of the community just as long-term residents are. Students have the power and numbers to positively impact this issue by volunteering at the existing shelters and continuing to advocate for the homeless.

A great way for Texas State to promote this kind of volunteer work would be to add existing homeless shelters in San Marcos as a regular job site in Bobcat Build, a yearly student volunteering event organized by Student Involvement and Engagement.

If the rapid rise in Hays County homelessness is to be slowed and eventually reversed, it is evident that changes and improvements, like establishing a dedicated shelter, must be made. However, what remains to be seen is who will make them first – the San Marcos City Council, a non-profit like Eden’s Village or perhaps the students of Texas State.

– Nikita Arefiev is an international relations freshman

The University Star welcomes Letters to the Editor from its readers. All submissions are reviewed and considered by the Editor in Chief and Opinions Editor for publication. Not all letters are guaranteed for publication.

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