MISD Counselors Fight to Keep Students From Being Homeless 12/6/12
CBS 7 Reporter
December 6, 2012
Midland, TX - The housing crisis in West Texas is spreading from the street to the classroom.
High school students are still under the same pressures: fitting in, making the grade and filling out college applications. But now for a growing number of West Texas students another stress is added to that list: homelessness.
“They’re struggling in school because they're going home to the fear of 'where are we going to go' because eviction notices are coming in the mail,” explains Communities in Schools counselor Mike Mills.
Midland ISD counselors say last year they worked with 1 student facing homelessness, this year there are 7.
"We do have the tale of two cities, we have a city that's booming and just growing and financially were busting at the seams, but we also have another city...they're having to work basically minimum wage jobs and multiple minimum wage jobs to take care of their families," Mills claims.
The latter is a story all too familiar for Mills as some of his own students are dealing with problems unlike any he's dealt with before.
" ‘Mr. Mills, mom needs you to call or grandma needs you to call because we don't know how were going to stay in our house, were thinking we may be on the streets,’" he says.
So he got to work, reaching out to the community, looking for help.
"The idea is so we can buy some time so we can help them find a better paying job so we can help increase their wages,” Mills says. “Get them where they can put their names out on apartments where the rent is cheaper."
"It hurts me because I'm a native Midlander,” says Midland City Council member Jerry Morales. “It's my home, these are my roots, it doesn't make sense to me at all why these apartment owners would raise the rent so extremely high."
Morales says for the past year he's been searching for answers but in a free market system the city is limited.
"They’re not taking in consideration the problem we have out there,” he claims. “We have a lot of homeless people out there."
Morales claims it's up to developers to do the right thing.
"Can these housing developers set aside 10% of their units for single parents, senior citizens, low income?” he questions.
But Mills says, in the mean time, this community will not standby as their neighbors struggle.
"We have seen actual individuals write checks out, church organizations that have helped. I’ve watched as people in the community begin to put a face to a person and they see 'this person will be on the streets if we don't help' "
The City of Midland says they expect around 5,000 rooms to come in over the next 2 years, including apartments, homes and hotels.
They say at this point all they can do is work efficiently to get these developments in as quick as possible.