Not forgotten: Fort Worth teams reach out to homeless mentally ill



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Posted on March 22, 2012 at 10:34 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 22 at 11:06 PM

MANSFIELD - Cedric Steele settled onto a stool in the visiting area of the Mansfield jail, facing our camera, and launched into a long, bizarre tale.

He refuses to talk about charges that he firebombed the office door of Texas Senator Wendy Davis Tuesday, or once attacked his own mother in Oklahoma. But he does talk.

"Things of Biblical proportion have been happening," he began. "I'm actually the guy who caught Bin Laden."

Cedric Steele told us he was a CIA agent who was raised from the dead. He said he was Tasered and left in the snow in Michigan years ago. And he still wants someone to help him get justice for that.

"And no one has done anything about it," he said, getting agitated.

He says the Taser incident is one reason he went to see Davis.

"The other reason was to give her a piece of the alien wing, so that I can get some senatorial help," he said.

Steele said he has pieces of alien creatures in the attic of the vacant and decrepit home where he's been living in west Fort Worth. Many people have heard his strange ramblings, and shooed him away from their homes or businesses.

"If we had known we would have sent a team out," said Kelly Rand.

She heads the SOS team for Catholic Charities in Fort Worth.

SOS stands for Street Outreach Services. She looked at Steele's deplorable living conditions, and wondered how it came to this.

"It tells me that there are a lot of things that have happened in that person's life to lead them to a situation like this," she said.

Rand says her three-person team, and a four-person Mental Health and Mental Retardation team are the only ones who actively scour Tarrant County streets for mentally ill homeless people, and try to match them with services.

She said she doesn't know whether anyone has ever tried to get help for Cedric Steele.

Steele bristles when we ask him, "Why would you ask that question?"

"They have the right to refuse our assistance," Rand said. "That's a hard fact. We struggle with that a lot as a team."

Kelly Rand said mainly they struggle with the workload. And her team focuses on the hardest population to reach - homeless people who live in the shadows, away from shelters.

"In 2010, our SOS team served 682 unduplicated, unsheltered individuals in the city of Fort Worth," she said.

Despite a need for the service, Rand said the state cut funding for the SOS team last year.

Grant money holds it together now. Team members carry little purple information cards. Rand gives them away all the time to panhandlers and anyone else who might benefit. She encourages others to hand them out, too.

In the case of Cedric Steele, lots of people told us they thought he needed help. Some thought he might be a threat to himself or others.

That's the call the SOS team wants to get. Rand said anyone can pick up the phone. The number on the purple card is 1-877-414-8345.