solving homelessness through civic responsibility
Amarillo YCCO ( Yellow City Community Outreach) was originally formed in 2015 as a street outreach addressing chronic homelessness by finding homes for those that desired them, filling gaps in available services, providing survival needs, and advocating for our chronically unsheltered homeless. We formed trusting relationships while distributing tents, blankets, hygiene items, clothing, and food to all the camps, day laborers, and “ regular spots “ around town. In July of 2016, we received our 501(c)(3) designation, and 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, and we operated 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 and coffee to 3 hot meals a day (we even received ice cream), clothing, and blankets. 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 County Sheriff’s offices 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 several calls to AMS for frostbite and acute sickness. 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.
A gap in 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 2017 a Task Force was formed ( several non-profits, National Weather Service (NWS), & City departments) and Code Blue Warming Station(CBWS) resulted to directly address those gaps. YCCO was a member of the original Task Force and contributed to coordinating and operating CBWS the first year.
From our beginning to the present, we have assisted 237 people to house, inpatient rehab services, outpatient rehab services through shelter programs, bus tickets back to family, and transportation to brand new starts in other areas through pre-arranged shelter program participation. There are currently 9 individuals that have signed their 3, 4, & 5-year leases in the same apartment, and 12 are experiencing various levels of stability while moving forward. Throughout the last five years, we have sought to build Tiny Homes and received donations of a lot in the San Jacinto neighborhood; all money donated to this program has been applied to the Plat and Permit process, which has cleared through the City of Amarillo. Presently, construction has not started. Although the City of Amarillo has been very helpful, the Amarillo community is resistant to tiny homes for any use.
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 actively engaging as a volunteer organization and provider of community service hours for our participants with outstanding warrants or other minor legal issues to resolve, and no timely, tangible means to achieve compliance. We engaged 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, openly seek employment, and apply for housing.
We give strong support and appreciation to the noticeable and highly impactful changes being implemented by the City of Amarillo Leadership, City of Amarillo Community Development Dept. Coming Home program, and all homeless organizations and agencies. We know that everyone advocating together and having conversations with those that want to know what they can do to meet this challenge has brought these changes in the way our community addresses homelessness.
While assisting our friends through the reacclimating process when they move into their homes, we took notice of some generational circumstances that lead to homelessness and generally become chronic. We have shifted our focus a bit and tasked ourselves with intending to end this cycle and close the front door to people becoming homeless. We continue to serve the chronically homeless, as this will always be our heart.
YCCO believes that addressing poverty and the condition of neighborhoods that have a high percentage of those living in poverty is important in the prevention of homelessness.