Local advocates who work with the homeless in Collin County say they’re seeing more people in crisis — and they’re not coming over from Dallas County. Shanette Eaden, the housing and community services manager for the city of Plano, said they’re local residents.
“These are not homeless that just now moved to Plano, or that just came here to our city because they think our city’s a place to be homeless,” Eaden said. “Because our place is a wrong place to be homeless — because we don’t have an emergency shelter.”
People in crisis who need a place to stay all day in night in Collin County often have nowhere to go. The county does have some options available. The Salvation Army opens warming centers when it gets cold, and there’s emergency shelter available for victims of domestic violence and youth. But there’s not a 24-hour emergency shelter available for the general population.
The Salvation Army of Plano opens its doors as a warming center for the homeless when temperatures hit 36 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
Sylvia Foster was up past 10 p.m. at that warming center on a night in late January, sitting at a white plastic table. She was eating packets of mustard and drinking bottled water to soothe her throat. It was sore from a cold.
Foster has stayed at the warming center before. She said the hours are limited. People who stay overnight are back on the streets by 6 a.m. or 7 a.m.
“The Salvation Army is just a place you stay all night,” Foster said. “They do have food. They have breakfast, and you have to get out.”
So where do people go? Jimmy Coleman said he goes to Haggard Park in downtown Plano. There’s a DART station nearby, and some people ride the trains for warmth.
“I’ll just adapt to it, come out here at the park a lot and just sit and read the Bible,” said Coleman, 63.
Eaden said there’s an average of one hundred unsheltered people in Plano on any given night.