09/14/2012 03:20 pm ET Updated Sep 14, 2012

Collin County, One Of Wealthiest Texas Counties, Combats 44% Increase In Homelessness

It’s one of the wealthiest counties in Texas, ranks sixth in the country for jobs and boasts a median household income of $80,504. But despite its affluence, Collin County’s homeless population is soaring.

Collin County’s homeless population grew 44 percent over the last year and has seen a particular increase among families, according to a Collin County Homeless Coalition report released Wednesday. While nonprofits and shelters are diligently working to find solutions, they simply weren’t equipped to handle such a sudden spike.

“People don’t think of Collin County as having a significant homeless population,” Lynne Sipiora, executive director of the Samaritan Inn homeless shelter in McKinney, told the Morning Dallas News. “We’ve been turning away 30 to 50 people a week for 18 months.”

But the faces of Collin’s homeless aren’t just of those who have lost jobs and are chronically without a roof over their heads. The population now comprises an overwhelming number of children and their struggling parents.

More than half of the 320 adults who were counted in the report said they have children living with them –- a 50 percent increase from last year.

Collin County’s only homeless shelter, the Samaritan Inn, has seen a major increase in the number of families it serves. Earlier this month, 63 children were staying at the shelter, which was one-third of its residents, reports.

One such struggling resident is Kristopher Rupert. When he lost his job as a chef, the dad of two young children, 3-year-old Caleb and 15-month-old Tristan, turned to the shelter for help, according to the news outlet.

Though the organization is strapped for resources, it’s still instilling a sense of hope in the clients it serves with job training classes and counseling.

"My kids, if not for this place, would fall through the cracks, have no prospects, have no nothing," Rupert told "And there are a lot of children out there that have nowhere to go."

Advocates say that the only way to effectively tackle the homeless issue is through a communitywide solution, the Dallas Morning News reports.

Collin County doesn’t have an emergency shelter. While it does have 45 food pantries, oftentimes the food available there isn’t helpful to families who live in cars or motels and can’t cook, according to the news outlet.

Jacqueline Cook, affiliate director of Family Promise, a nonprofit that connects churches with agencies, told the Dallas Morning News that she gets about seven calls a day from families in need and that the number of homeless families in Collin County is probably devastatingly higher that the coalition report revealed.

“But we know there are so many more,” Cook told the news outlet. “The problem is rampant, and the count doesn’t come close to the numbers we really have.”



10 Ways The U.S. Is Getting Worse For Most Americans