Austin, Texas, businesses and volunteers began renovating a recreational vehicle July 31 at Princess Craft Campers and Trailers in Pflugerville that will be used to reach out to the homeless population in the Austin area.
The RV, known as the Homeless Coach, is an instrumental part of a program that bears the same name and that founder Tom Baum said aims to “reverse homelessness” in the Austin area. Baum said the six-month program will take homeless people off the streets and help them transition back into the community.
“With the right guidance they can give back to society and have a purposeful and meaningful life,” he said.
Baum said he will use the RV to house the homeless who enroll in the program.
The organization’s website-www.homelesscoach.org-will also feature online videos to allow participants to share their stories with the community at large. Visitors to the website can chat with and donate to the participants as well as see the RV’s current location through GPS technology.
Baum said the goal of the interactive website is to help the homeless individual create a social network and contacts that can help them after they graduate from the program.
One of the main reasons people become homeless, he said, is the breakup of the family unit, which can happen because of addictions, loss of a job, mental illness or criminal activity. Without a support system, Baum said it is difficult for people to get off the streets once they end up there.
“[Many] have a good heart and want to do right, but they have a history that prevents them from moving on,” he said.
The idea for the program came from a 40-day “homeless immersion” project Baum did in 2008. During that time period, he talked with homeless people in Austin and streamed videos to the internet with his mobile phone and from a RV trailer.
Baum said churches and businesses saw the 40-day project and donated materials to the individuals featured on his website as well as supplies for Baum to continue his work. The Well Bible Church donated an older model motorhome after seeing Baum’s homeless immersion.
“To me it was an affirmation that this was a good thing and that we needed to keep going,” Baum said.
Baum said Pflugerville businesses have also donated time, services and materials to the Homeless Coach, including Image Auto Body, Princess Craft and Aus-Tex Towing.
The Homeless Coach still has a lengthy list of materials and equipment it needs before the interior of the RV is finished. Baum said they need TV monitors, cushions, wood for cabinets and cameras. A complete list will be available online.
Baum said he hopes to begin construction on the interior of the RV Sept. 3, and an unveiling ceremony is set for Oct. 3. More information is available at www.homelesscoach.org. Click on the site to watch a short video about the project.