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Population of homeless in Corpus Christi appears to be growing

Posted at 6:23 AM, Feb 02, 2023

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Millions of tourists visit Corpus Christi every year to enjoy the sparkling city's attractions.

However, people like Robert Karlott have a different experience. He said being in Corpus Christi is a daily struggle to survive. The Houston native told KRIS 6 News, he moved to the Coastal Bend to get away from influence and danger from gangs.

However, after about two years of living in Corpus Christi, he found himself facing another danger. Instead of gangs, it's the elements. On Wednesday, KRIS 6 News met him while he was walking in the cold weather with several bags in hand. He said he lost his house and is currently living in need.

"It's kind of just emotional and distressing because you can't evaluate so many things per day," he said. "And I get things lost and stolen. I have to get up every day and just try to renew it over and over again."

Kyle Kanutson, the president of the non-profit organization Homeless Issues Partnership, has heard countless stories like Karlott's. Because of his own personal experience, he chose to dedicate his life to helping people in need.

Aside from his affiliation with the Homeless Issues Partnership, he also works for the Salvation Army full-time.

There needs to be somebody that speaks for them. Not everything they're doing is great, but they're human," Kanutson said. "My dad was an addict for a long time. I didn't know it. And I've coped with it in the wrong ways for a long time. But then I got my bachelor's in psychology and God put me in this position."

Kanutson's father had hepatitis C, a viral infection that causes liver inflammation, sometimes leading to serious liver damage. Kanutson said his health affect was the result of using needles.

"My dad's story...was a blessing in disguise," Kanuston said. " I can share that (and) use him (to) get through to other individuals. Everything happens in a reason and I'm a firm believer in that. That's just proof to me and that's my why."

Kanutson headed the 2023 Point in Time Count and gathered volunteers to find out the number of homeless in the community. The exact number will be released in a few months, but Kanutson provided a rough estimate.

He said they possibly counted between 550 to 650 homeless individuals. He said there is definitely an increase from the previous count. Last year, the group counted 443 unhoused people. 269 was the sum for 2021. In 2020, there was 830.

"COVID has definitely played a factor in the numbers," he said. "But now I'm starting to see the trends going back up. As opposed to when all the COVID assistance was going around, and the numbers seemed like it's going down a little bit."

With the data that's been collected the state could determine how much funding will go to local homeless resources and programs. Most people say more funding is needed, because there aren't enough sources of relief to keep up with the amount of homeless.

"There's not even a fraction of enough," Karlott said.

The Salvation Army and Homeless Issues Partnership aren't the only groups fighting homelessness in the Coastal Bend. There are other groups which are also coordinating with the city to find solutions.

Kanutson believes a focus on case management will help solve the problem and keep people from rebounding as they are building a life after homelessness.