Homelessness Does Not Take a Vacation
Homelessness does not take a vacation. While you might expect the cold of New England’s winter to force people to seek emergency shelter, this summer is proving just as difficult on those without proper housing. Friends of the Homeless, Inc., the largest emergency shelter in Western Massachusetts is seeing unusually high numbers of people needing help. In January, FOH provided shelter to 150 people on a busy night. That number was equaled last week, the last week of July.
In the first six months of this year, FOH has already provided almost 31,000 beds. That translates to shelter and services for 806 men and women. Each year almost half of our guests are new to shelter.
The reason for the amount of people needing shelter is complex. The poor economy hurts in two ways: pushing more people into shelter when they can no longer afford housing; and keeping people in shelter longer because there are fewer jobs and more competition for services that get them re-housed. Friends of the Homeless tries not to turn people away and therefore many night s we can only offer floor space because all the shelter beds are taken.
Shelter isn’t just a nighttime concern either. Long before the sun goes down, people are seeking shelter from the extreme heat and humidity. Friends of the Homeless has been running an expanded day program most days to try to accommodate homeless individuals who are in need of shelter from the elements. If you combine these services with the three meals a day, seven days a week that we cook and serve, you’ll see that FOH is hard at work throughout the year meeting the needs of people who are homeless in our community.
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After almost thirty years covering the news for television affiliates in Western Massachusetts, Kathy joined Friends of the Homeless in the fall of 2009 to help raise money and the profile of the organization to fulfill its mission. As Director of Development, Kathy is available to help you understand the work we are doing and how you might contribute to end homelessness in our community.