On the average, we have been seeing about 120 persons seeking help each week. The numbers are down a little since the hurricane; we have noticed some ‘regulars’ that have not been in since the storm. Most of them have probably relocated out of the area (at least 9 apartment complexes shut down and are very slow to reopen making it very difficult for people to find affordable housing.) For the people that are coming in, many are still in the process resettling after getting out of FEMA trailers, motels or rooming houses. When they do finally find housing, it’s an expensive venture; they typically need the deposit for the housing and a month’s rent up front, as well as deposits for their utilities.
People come in for a wide variety of other reasons as well. The majority of them are in need of food. Most will also ask for clothes or household goods. Some are hoping to find some furniture or a bike. About one half will inquire about financial help. There might be a one or two that are just happy to come in off the street, out of the weather, and perhaps get a bagged lunch.
We see people of all ages, from an occasional teen to those in their 90’s and the ages in between. Some are married, some are widowed, some are separated, some are coming out of domestic violence situations, some were recently incarcerated, some are stranded hoping to get assistance to move on to another city. Most have dependents; some are just on their own. Many have health issues, particularly mental health issues that are not being addressed
Every day we see several homeless people. They have a wide range of living arrangements: some are fortunate enough to have secured a bed in a homeless shelter (we have four in the area); some are living in half way houses, hoping to overcome an addiction; some have temporary shelter on a couch or on the floor in someone’s home; some live in their vehicles; and some pitch a tent or set out a sleeping bag or a blanket in any spot they can find be it in a park or under a bridge or on a bench.
Most of the people we see are the working poor. They might have jobs, but don’t get enough working hours. Any of them doing outside work lose hours or days because of weather. CNA’s often lose their patients and are hoping for new assignments. Hotel and restaurant workers as well as landscapers tend to have seasonal downtime. Some lose days or weeks of work for health issues. And for most, a day not worked equals a day not compensated – they don’t get paid sick days or vacation/holidays.
Bottom line, we are open to anyone that shows up at our door asking for help; we are willing to listen to their story and assess whether we can be of any help to them. Most times we’ll help with food and or material goods, sometimes we’ll give financial aid, and sometimes we might just give some advice or suggestions. Following Sister Isaac’s philosophy, our role is to try our best not to be judgmental and to listen with an open heart.
Special need of the week: Last call for donations of furniture and household goods. We’ll be closing as of end of day on August 1 and we ask that you then hold on to donations until September.