For Jay Adams, a home has been several things.
It's been a dorm room when he was a student at Southwest Texas State, a comfortable apartment when he worked as an English teacher and, more recently, the inside of a small tent in the middle of the woods.
Adams, a 67-year-old San Marcos resident, became homeless after being unable to work due to a series of health issues that accumulated in major heart surgery. He has been homeless for three years and is one of over 100 people in San Marcos without housing.
Adams currently lives in a form of temporary housing in a local motel set up for him by the H.O.M.E Center, an organization that works to aid people experiencing homelessness within Central Texas.
He discovered the H.O.M.E. Center after encountering the organization's president Hannah Durrance at a food donation.
“I was staying in the woods for about a year with my tent, and [Durrance] would come by on a Sunday and bring food to all the homeless people out there. She’s a really kind human being I don’t know what people would do without her,” Adams said. "I'm happy now. For a long time, I wasn't. I fought it and I'm really happy I made it back."
Adams is one of many people who need the H.O.M.E Center to survive. Without adequate funding, it is unlikely the organization will be able to fully assist people. Due to a lack of space, "no vacancy" signs often light up inside the motels the H.O.M.E. Center works with. Despite the organization's passion to assist those in need, lackluster funding and aid results in many homeless residents being turned away.
Motels are not the only areas where vacancy is scarce. According to Durrance, various shelters throughout the county are also overcapacity.
H.O.M.E Center is funded by county-issued emergency grants as well as private donations. Funds issued to the H.O.M.E Center don't just provide temporary homes to the homeless but also provide case management to assist in finding employment and educating the homeless on city resources.
Michelle Constantinou has been homeless for over two years, following not being able to pay the bills of a costly car collision several years ago. She has been living out of her damaged car with her son and reached out to the H.O.M.E Center after several engine failures made living in her car impossible.
Constantinou and her son now live in a form of temporary housing arranged by the H.O.M.E Center. She is working low-paying daily jobs to provide herself and her son with food. The 56-year-old mother hopes she can get more aid before the holidays.
“I miss the simple things. Maybe it sounds silly, but I just want my own place where I can put up a Christmas tree or cook and because of one car crash a few years ago I can’t,” Constantinou said.
Constantinou is not alone in the call for aid during the holidays. Durrance, who experienced homelessness while attending Texas State, recalls a Christmas morning when she couldn’t provide breakfast for her children.
“I remember it was Christmas and my son was eight, seven months old, I think at that point. I woke up that morning, early, it was like five in the morning. I laid there for the longest time thinking this is the first morning in a very long time I'm not going to be able to cook Christmas breakfast for my kids,” Durrance said.
To continue to assist the local community, the nonprofit has applied for another grant from the county. However, the H.O.M.E Center is calling for more financial assistance, fearing that once funds run out, those in temporary housing will be homeless again.
“H.O.M.E Center has been doing this case management work and trying to help individuals, but without the funds needed to do it,” Durrance said. "As far as funding homelessness outreach, there's not a lot of that here in the first place.”
For more information about the HOME Center and homelessness outreach, visit its website.