For Kevin Sturdevant, caring for four young children has been an ongoing struggle. As a single father, he struggles to find a stable home for his three girls and one son, Sturdevant said.
“Their momma is no longer around, so that is why I have become a single parent at the moment,” Sturdevant said. “I’ve got one who, for the past two years, has came down with a disability, so it’s hard to maintain employment with having to always pick her up from school and go to all of our doctors appointments. We just keep our hope, our faith and hope for a better tomorrow.”
The family’s hope for a better tomorrow took a step forward as Sturdevant’s name landed on the waiting list for the Sanctuary House, a short term emergency housing program for homeless families in Waco Independent School District that was unveiled Wednesday.
The house is a collaborative effort between Waco Independent School District’s Homeless Outreach, the Waco Housing Authority, the local Salvation Army and Junior League of Waco.
“The focus for this in particular is for our families, because it is not uncommon for me to get phone calls from stressed out parents who are sleeping in their car, they have just been evicted and have nowhere to go, Sally’s House is full or they are living doubled up with other friends or family,” Waco ISD homeless liaison Cheryl Pooler said.
Waco ISD estimates about 1,200 of its students per year are homeless, as defined by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.
Eligible families can stay at Sanctuary House for up to 30 days and will have resources with community partners to help them move to permanent housing.
“We will provide case management once a week while they are in the unit and get them on a case plan with a goal to get them moved to permanent housing,” said Jennifer Caballero, Salvation Army director of social services. “We really see this as an extension of Sally’s House, our emergency shelter for families, so this will double the housing for families for emergency shelter.”
Sanctuary House will feature a three-bedroom unit and two, two-bedroom units for parents of at least one Waco ISD student who is homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless.
The Waco Housing Authority donated property for the project, said Milet Hopping, Waco Housing Authority’s senior vice president and chief operations officer.
“We decided that there was a need for family housing in Waco and we were very anxious about the kids in school,” Hopping said. “Kids who don’t come to school don’t learn and aren’t successful in life. We want them to be as successful as possible, so it is important that they have that opportunity to at least have somewhere to go.”
For Sturdevant and his children, the opportunity to be on the waiting list for a chance to have a stable home is unbelievable, he said.
“I think that better tomorrow is seeming closer,” Sturdevant said. “This is something that gives us hope and faith that something will happen and work out for us. With something like this, if it’s not us on the list, hopefully it will be a blessing to someone else.”
Organizers said several families are on the waiting list for units. All three units are scheduled to be filled by June.