AUSTIN - Hundreds of women are facing homelessness in Austin, and some of them are sharing their stories and how the community can help.
Kimberly Collins, 51, has been homeless for about a year. In the past year, she's called several spaces home. Wednesday, it was a tent in northeast Austin. All of Collin's belongings are spread out on the dirt.
"We're going to be leaving here soon," Collins said.
The Ending Community Homelessness Coalition, or ECHO, reports 38% of Austin's homeless population are women.
"You can get beaten up, which I have been, " Collins said. "You can get raped, thank God I have not been. A lot of bad things can happen to single women out here."
ECHO reports half of Austin's women have no household income.
Collins says each woman is homeless for a different reason.
"There's divorce, there's retardation, there's physical health, losing a job," Collins said.
Collins said she lost her job last year, but before that her life was different.
"I grew up in a three story condo, my step Dad worked for NASA," Collins said. "I was accepted into the University of Texas in 1983. I came here and was able to get my associates in business."
She said she worked as a caregiver for several years, got married and had four kids. Now divorced, all of them are aware of her situation and aren't happy with it, especially her daughter, Emily.
"She's in Colorado and she worries," Collins said. "She's the worrier, but she knows Mom will be okay."
Collins has no home, no car and no health insurance. Glena Simmons knows what it's like.
"I used to be homeless and I met these people, and for me, it's my passion to help those who can't help themselves," Simmons said.
Simmons is mentoring women like Collins and hosting fundraisers. This month, she's collecting winter wear for them at the Art House.
"I'm just asking people to bring the gloves, the hats, the things they need for the winter," Collins said.
A small solution to a much bigger problem, ECHO reports access to affordable and low barrier housing is the greatest challenge to ending homelessness in Austin. That's the main reason Collins said she is trying to leave the city.
"I'll probably end up getting a job in a town where the economy is more affordable," Collins said.
For now, she's saving the money she makes on the street.
"I just put all my faith in God that I will get through this," Collins said.
She's a strong believer that negativity gets you nowhere and she'll keep moving forward.
"I'm about to get my ID back so I can get a job and the first kind of money that I get - I'm out of here," Collins said.
She said she's all about trying to head in the right direction.
If you would like to donate money or winter clothing for the homeless, it can be dropped off at the Art House at 11505 Anderson Mill Rd, Austin, TX, 78750.
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