DALLAS -- It's a rarely-discussed segment of the homeless population: those who have a job, but don't have a home.

Homeless shelters often have rigid hours that are difficult for those trying to work, like Nathan Bowles, 46.

"It's beyond stressful," Bowles said.

He said he's been homeless over a year, after a serious leg injury left him with tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills. Eventually, he was out on the street.

Nathan Bowles
Nathan Bowles

"I was sleeping on a mattress out in the woods," he said.

More recently, Bowles has been staying at the Austin Street Center, a homeless shelter for men over 45 near downtown Dallas. To get a spot for the night, he has to line up everyday by 2 p.m.

That's a problem, because this summer, Bowles got a job busing tables at the Omni Hotel. It's his first real job in over two years.

"It really meant a lot just to see the opportunity placed in front of me," he said.

He said he works some late nights, and those new hours make it difficult for him to secure a spot at the shelter.

Nathan Bowles begins a long, hot walk from work to the shelter.
Nathan Bowles begins a long, hot walk from work to the shelter.

"There's a distinct possibility they won't have my name down on a cot," Bowles said one afternoon as he got off of work and prepared to walk two miles to the shelter.

Austin Street does have a program called workers' cot, with 40 beds dedicated to the working homeless. If they can prove employment, they can get a guaranteed bed with flexible hours. But the program has been full for months, and Bowles said he was not able to get in.

An open bed can be hard to come by at Austin Street Center.
An open bed can be hard to come by at Austin Street Center.

"There are dozens of people that have asked us for a worker's cot bed that we're not able to put in a bed, even though they're employed," said Daniel Roby, executive director of the Austin Street Center.

He said about 10 percent of the shelter's available beds are designated for the program, but expanding would require additional funding.

"It's an enormous problem right now in Dallas," he said. "There are hundreds of people I'm certain that are employed and still currently homeless."