Reporting Joel Thomas
FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) - At a glance, it looked like Patrick Murphy is panhandling in downtown Fort Worth Tuesday morning. The bearded man in dark pants with a leather jacket over a t-shirt held a cardboard sign with bold letters that read: “LOOKING FOR WORK.” But a little closer look revealed letters not in bold script that told a different story: “LOOKING FOR WORKing solutions to homelessness. Directionshome.org“
And he had company on the street corner — Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price who also held a handmade, cardboard sign with an anti-homelessness slogan on it.
“It’s just about hope!” the mayor yelled to a passing driver with a puzzled look on his face.
Murphy spent 35 years on the street unable to afford a home and unable to get work without a home address.
“They go to apply for a job and the people say ‘There’s the door,’” Murphy said. “It’s like you’re in a cell and nobody’s got the key.”
The program that helped Murphy get an apartment three years ago is now asking others for help.
Directions Home and its affiliates had their budgets slashed by 25% in the last round of budget cuts. It’s trying to steer people out of shelters and into apartments and homes, but now it needs far more support from the private sector. And that’s why volunteers were holding signs up around Fort Worth.
“It’s our new campaign to raise the profile of Directions Home,” Mayor Price said. “To get people back engaged and to realize they can help. We’ve put 1200 people in sheltered housing with counseling services. Put them back to work. Put families back together.”
Directions Home will host a series of fund raisers and public awareness campaigns over the next 12 months — from sponsored running events to garage sales. It’s hoped re-engaging the public will help put roofs over the heads of the almost 2,400 homeless in Tarrant County.
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