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Expansion for Women and Family Shelter


The Hiway 80 Rescue Mission has been providing shelter for homeless East Texans since 1955 and now they are expanding the women and family shelter to meet their over flow needs. A new $900,000 expansion will provide women and their children a private place to live until they can get back on their feet. Current residents say they are looking forward to the new changes.

On an average night, 60 to 70 homeless East Texas women come to the Hiway 80 Rescue Mission facilities for shelter, but right now there's only enough beds for 50 people.

"Almost every night we have women and children who have to be in our overflow," Special Projects Coordinator Kim Langston said. "They're on cots, they're on mats. So, it's a much needed project for space."

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"It's good because it will give people more privacy," Chandra Johnson, a resident, said.

Right now, single women have to share space with families. Women who are at the shelter with their children have to share a dorm sized room.

"The cottages that we're adding will allow them to have more space," Langston said. "It will have a living area, they'll have a little porch outside, they'll have a separate sleeping area, and they'll also have their own restrooms there."

Kate Langston says the homeless population in East Texas has changed as women make up more of the population.

"We have a lot more women and children now and the thing about that is they have not considered themselves homeless until they're here," Langston said. "They have bounced around from some of the motels that are down on highway 80 that have drugs and prostitution there."

Chandra Johnson, a mother of three, says this is the best place she has lived in the past four months.

"It's nice being able to go to bible study, and to interact with other women here, and to you know get on your feet, and to be safe," Johnson said.

Many of the women living at the shelter come from different backgrounds and have different reasons for being homeless. Chandra says she wants others who are homeless to know the Hiway 80 Rescue Mission is a place fit for them especially with new expansions.

"If you come here, they won't turn you away and it's a good place to come to for a new start to be safe and get as many resources as you can to better yourself," Chandra said.

Hiway 80 staff is hoping construction on the women's facility will be done sometime in May. They want women to know they will not turn you away even during this time of overflow.

The shelter is volunteer driven with support from gracious givers in the community. Langston says they are always looking for more help for their life skills classes and other resources they provide.

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