Editorial: There is HOPE for Amarillo’s homeless

Former Amarillo Mayor Paul Harpole had a key direction in mind when it came to helping Amarillo’s homeless.


Harpole wanted to give the homeless “a hand up, not a hand out.”

Up, not out, was the point about a year ago when the then-mayor recommended the City of Amarillo look into a city-run day labor program to help Amarillo’s homeless.

The program, modeled after a similar program in Albuquerque, N.M, is successful, at least according to early results.

In other words, a “hand up” beats a “hand out.”

This past November, the city announced a partnership with Amarillo Housing First for a unique program (at least as far as Amarillo is concerned). It is called the Homeless Outreach Providing Encouragement — or HOPE.

Pardon the pun, but early indications are that HOPE is providing hope.

The first three months of the HOPE program, according to Amarillo Housing First executive director Chris Seright and city emergency management coordinator Kevin Starbuck, have seen a dozen people who were formerly homeless find permanent housing. And eight formerly homeless people have full-time jobs.

And here is the interesting part of the program: HOPE pays homeless individuals $9 an hour to pick up debris around the city. (And Amarillo residents know there are plenty of areas around the city which need some sprucing up.)

The goal of any program designed to help and aid the homeless has to be to get individuals off the street and in safe housing, not to mention provide them a way to better themselves. In the case of this program, the city benefits as well as far as getting some much-needed cleaning.

When the city announced HOPE this past November, the program was called a “six-month pilot program” scheduled to run from May through October.

Amarillo has seen its share of public debate the past few years regarding how to address the city’s homeless population, including whether to allow individuals to sleep overnight in public parks.

Getting 12 people who were formerly homeless off the streets of Amarillo and into housing, while at the same time providing individuals a way to work, is a win-win situation.

So far HOPE shows promise for Amarillo.