Welcome To Opportunity Center for the Homeless
1208 Myrtle Ave, El Paso, TX - 79901
“The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty -- it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”
~ Mother Teresa, A Simple Path: Mother Teresa
It was 21 years ago on January 3rd, 1994 that Ray and Lily Tullius open the doors people experiencing homelessness. It was the simple premise to bring them in, especially during the cold weather, to get them in from the streets. And at the beginning of the OC they used coffee. There is nothing like a hot cup of coffee during cold weather. People felt welcomed and that was the intent. And this was the start to start helping people experiencing homelessness. It was recognized very early on those different people take different amounts of time to get back on their feet. So there were no restrictions on how long one can stay at the shelter. Sadly, it was also realized that due to lack of resources, some our people would not get out of homelessness. Knowing this the vision of the Opportunity Center became to help move forward those that can, and to protect those who cannot. However, we can say that there have been some who have been able to move forward after years of a stabilization process. It is important to note that sometimes it can take years, especially when person who is homeless is diagnosed with mental illness.
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The Opportunity Center for the Homeless (OC) consists of two homeless shelters, one for single adult men and one for single adult women, and seven residential centers for the elderly, single women (2), mentally ill, veterans, and men and women in school/work programs.
Homeless persons coming to the OC receive services by walk-in or referral 24 hours/day, 365 days/year. We receive the least among the homeless including addicted, elderly, mentally ill, and immigrant; police even drop of homeless at our shelter.
Over the year we served nearly 124,000 meals and provided over 102,000 nights of sleep. We counseled over 2000 men, women, and youth, and transitioned over 1000 into work, training, and school programs.
On average our homeless population is 88% male and 12% female; 57% are Hispanic, 28% Anglo, 12% Black, and 3% Other. In particular, we are seeing an increase in homeless single women.
OC Programs operate within three categories of Services:
OC Homeless Shelter staff complete an intake assessment to determine the client’s homeless status, sub-population status, and key needs. Basic intake services include three meals/day, individual bedding, bathroom and shower facilities, laundry facilities, backpack storage, mailing address, and clothes closet (new and used clean clothes).
Beyond the required food, shelter, and clothing needs, homeless clients may choose services that help return them to the path of a home-based or self-sufficient lifestyle. OC case workers counsel clients on the OC system of client services so that clients may be placed within the programs that best suit their current ability to return to a supportive home lifestyle. The OC system of individual and support services includes: individual assessment and case management, substance abuse services, mental health services, medical services, veterans services, employment services, educational counseling, on-site educational classes, housing services, legal services, youth services, transportation, and referrals to other support agencies. All of these services are currently housed within the OC Shelter building. All services are also available by referral to members of the El Paso Coalition for the Homeless.
The living centers are either transitional or permanent living facilities for homeless clients who have qualified for housing through individual circumstances (e.g., elderly), program focus (e.g., veterans) or self-sufficiency goals (e.g., school/work programs). Please visit our OC Living Centers page for more information on each facility!