Three weeks before launching Longview’s second Homeless Resource Day, the city still lacks a barber.
The city also needs items to fill hygiene bags, plus coats, towels and blankets that homeless people need during the winter months, Community Services Director Laura Hill said Thursday.
“We still need donations,” said Hill, who is coordinating the event for homeless people in Longview. “My biggest concern so far is I don’t have anybody for haircuts.”
At least seven local barbers and hairstylists cut hair for people who attend the inaugural Homeless Resource Day nearly a year ago, and each of them stayed busy throughout the day serving between 80 and 100 people total, Hill said.
So far, no barber or stylist has committed this year. In fact, of the 50 businesses and service agencies that participated in 2018, 18 haven’t responded to the city’s call for participation this year, according to a list of confirmed participants for Homeless Resource Day 2019 provided by the city.
Other unconfirmed vendors on the list included certain housing services for eligible veterans and other people, intake assessments and avenues to mental health or substance abuse programs.
Unlike last year, Homeless Resource Day will be held on a Friday — Jan. 25 starting at 8 a.m. at the Longview Exhibit Building on Jaycee Drive.
“I do understand that we moved from Saturday to Friday, which is probably a very big day for (barbers’) regular business. I got that,” Hill said. “I have sent inquiries to Vista College and Kilgore College Cosmetology about maybe their students coming to do haircuts.”
The city is open to the idea of scheduling barbers and stylists for two-hour shifts throughout the eight-hour day, with Hill adding, “You don’t have to be there all day if we can work out something, especially for services like that.”
At least one new addition is scheduled for this year’s resource day. The East Texas Council of Governments has helped secured the Texas Workforce Commission to have a vendor available to help people find employment or the steps they might need to finding a job.
“They will have all of their programs outlined and tried to help you figure out where you fall (and) what you need to do,” Hill said, “so it’s not actually a job fair, it’s what do we need to do to make you employable.”
The city isn’t in desperation mode, Hill cautioned. Last year’s Homeless Resource Day was arranged in four weeks, while planning for Jan. 25 started several months ago.
“Last year, we put it together so quickly,” she said, “so maybe I’ve been planning it so long that the sense of urgency was not as great as it was last year, but I am beginning to be at least somewhat concerned that we won’t be able to provide all of the services that our homeless need.”
Organizations interested in assisting as potential service providers during the event should contact Hill at (903) 237-1392 or visit LongviewTexas.gov/ Homeless .