solving homelessness through civic responsibility
Amarillo YCCO ( Yellow City Community Outreach) was formed in 2015 as a street outreach addressing how our chronic homeless persons were treated. We began finding homes for those that desired them, filling gaps in available services, providing survival needs, and advocating directly with City leadership and staff.
We have formed trusting relationships while distributing tents, blankets, hygiene items, clothing, and food to camps, day labor sites, and “ regular spots “ around town.
In July 2016, we received our 501(c)(3) designation!
In December 2016, YCCO operated the first no-barrier emergency shelter (in response to the unfortunate death of Mr. Jamey Johnson, who froze from sleeping on the street during inclement weather), giving our unsheltered homeless with pets and those who cannot or will not enter other shelters a place to stay warm and safe. Through the Winter, we served an average of 78 persons per night.
We opened the doors at 40 degrees or during a storm event of any type, operating open 24 hours when the weather was continually bad with no requirement to leave during the day. We operated for durations of 3 days, the longest being 10 days in a row. The Amarillo community graciously supported the mission by donating absolutely every item needed for both humans and their pets, from never-ending snacks, coffee, tea, water, 3 hot meals a day (we even received ice cream), clothing, blankets, medical supplies, and candy. Crist provided fuel for heating, and Amarillo Medical Services (AMS) hosted 2 successful coat and blanket drives! Donations of craft items, coloring books, cards, dominoes, journals, DVDs, and a TV kept everyone busy and engaged with the people around them.
We collaborated with both Potter and Randall Counties Sheriff Departments to accept releasees from jail during inclement weather that had no transportation and would otherwise be dropped off at a closed resource center. We had 0 cause to call Amarillo Police Department through the entire winter season. There were calls to AMS for frostbite and other injuries that had not been cared for properly.
We assisted several participants with application processes for Social Security Income, Social Security Disability Income, ID, and other services, including rehab and compliance with legal matters.
If you would like to know more about where, how, and why we did this, just message or call. We would love to talk about the experience and how impactful it was.
Gaps in cold weather shelter services to provide for pets and an alternative for those who have difficulty with expectations (many due to mental health episodes) exists, and in the Spring of 2017, a Task Force formed by several non-profits, National Weather Service (NWS), & City departments resulted in Code Blue Warming Station (CBWS) to directly address those gaps. YCCO was a member of the original Task Force and contributed to coordinating and operating CBWS the first year.
YCCO has assisted 237 people into homes, inpatient rehab services, outpatient rehab services through shelter programs, bus tickets back to families willing to receive them, and transportation to brand new starts in other areas through pre-arranged program participation. We have spent these years advocating with local leadership to improve the treatment of our homeless and address the very real gaps that continue to exist.
We were given an opportunity to collaborate with individuals that had surplus bread and snack products and were able to provide many organizations and individuals with these products for over a year.
In 2017 YCCO began a program to provide community service hours for our homeless with outstanding warrants or other minor legal issues to resolve. We collaborated with the City of Amarillo to help with bulk trash pickup and illegal dumping challenges. The program has shown great success for those that are now able to complete the process of obtaining identification, seeking employment, and applying for housing.
We support and appreciate the noticeable and highly impactful changes being implemented by the City of Amarillo Leadership, City of Amarillo Community Development Dept., the Coming Home program, Potter County, and ALL homeless organizations and agencies. We know that everyone advocating together and having conversations with those that ask what they can do to meet this challenge has brought these significant changes in the way our community addresses homelessness.
While assisting our friends through the re-acclimating process as they move into their homes, we took notice of some generational circumstances that lead to homelessness and statistically become chronic. With this in mind, we have shifted our focus and tasked ourselves with ending this cycle and closing the door to people surviving in poverty becoming homeless. We will always serve the chronically homeless, and they will always be our heart.
YCCO believes that addressing poverty and the condition of neighborhoods that are under-served is important in the prevention of homelessness.