Let’s be selfless: Baylor should do more to help Waco homeless community

By Kalena Reynolds | Staff Writer

There’s no doubt that Waco has grown exponentially in every area over the past 10 years. Whether it’s downtown, the grease pit or Magnolia, you can almost guarantee that it has expanded.

While most people credit Chip and Joanna Gaines with the growth and tourist attractions, they often forget the economic implications that growth has for the community.

Suppose you’re a regular at Union Hall. In that case, you’ve probably noticed that restaurants rarely last in the space due to the enormous price tag attached to the monthly rent. In a recent interview with the Texas Music Space, I learned that rent for a store downtown skyrocketed to $6,000 a month in some places in 2023.

While the cost of rent for a workspace doesn’t directly affect people who aren’t business owners, it indicates a much bigger problem: the rise in living costs. Home values in Waco increased by 30.3% in 2022 and nearly 96% over the past five years.

The increase in housing costs has created a significant problem for the homeless community, who are unable to keep up with the rate of inflation.

For a school with a $902.4 million operating budget for 2023-2024, the lack of contribution from Baylor to the homeless community is disappointing.

In comparison to a school like the University of Texas at Austin, which regularly holds events to support the homeless community and has a social work program that collaborates with the city, it appears that Baylor is missing out on many opportunities.

The University of Texas at Austin even has a student organization called Uplift, which is dedicated to fundraising and collecting donations for people experiencing homelessness. While there was previously a similar organization at Baylor called Bear Necessities, it seems the group has minimal existence now.

I think Baylor would benefit from helping the homeless population in Waco and spreading awareness of the state of the community.

Holding more events and fundraisers for the homeless community in Waco would be a great start. Getting more students involved and sharing the reality of people living without housing — a reality that sometimes seems far-fetched when entranced into the facade of Baylor — would also be a great start.

Because, let’s face it, the extravagance of Baylor’s architecture sometimes makes reality in Waco appear different than it is. Many people are struggling with homelessness, and Baylor can afford to assist in that area.

For anyone looking to take the initiative to volunteer or help the community, Mission Waco is currently an excellent way to immerse yourself. Perhaps Baylor, too, will follow suit.