McKINNEY — Collin County is the wealthiest county in all of Texas. Yet the number of homeless people is rising fast, and sadly, many of them are children.
It's another morning at the Samaritan Inn homeless shelter for Kristopher Rupert and his two children, three-year-old Caleb and 15-month-old Tristan.
Rupert is a chef. When he lost his job, he could no longer support his kids. So he moved in to Collin County's only homeless shelter.
"I'm trying to find a menial job, just to get by, and that's not going very well, because frankly, I'm overqualified," Rupert said.
Caleb and Tristan are among 63 children at the McKinney shelter; that's one-third of Samaritan Inn residents.
Nationwide, there are more than a million-and-a-half homeless children.
"The most important thing to any parent is protecting your children,” said Samaitan Inn executive director Lynne Sipiora. "So imagine how you feel when you can't provide a home for them."
Rupert, a single dad, sends his boys off to day care. He will spend the day at the Inn, attending classes, and getting counseling and job training. The goal: independence.
"My kids, if not for this place, would fall through the cracks, have no prospects, have no nothing," Rupert said. "And there are a lot of children out there that have nowhere to go."
Family groups like Kristopher, Caleb, and Tristan Rupert — once rare at homeless shelters — have now become the norm.
Rupert says if not for the shelter, he and his kids would have no home... and no hope.
"I find hope in knowing that I don't have to worry tonight about whether they're going to get something to eat,” said the unemployed chef. “I don't have to worry tonight if they're going to have a roof over their heads."