Community provides services for homeless in area

Community provides services for homeless in area

Local Shoals organizations provide services to homeless individuals through emergency housing, counseling services and educational opportunities.

The total homeless population in Alabama in 2017 was 3,793 individuals and the total number of family households experiencing homelessness was 262, according to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.

Thirteen percent of homeless individuals are college-age people, according to National Public Radio.

The Community Action Agency of Northwest Alabama has aided 136 homeless people since January. This number includes individuals and families.

“We offer various programs for homeless people, such as housing counseling, budget training, employment and education services,” said Tammy McDaniel, executive director for the Community Action Agency.

McDaniel added that each program offered comes with certain guidelines, but all an individual has to do is fill out an informational application.

“We receive about 30 or 40 applications every two weeks,” McDaniel said.

The Community Action Agency focuses on working with individuals undergoing financial strain.

“We try to help as many individuals as we can, but our programs do have limitations on how many people we can assist,” McDaniel said. “The application process is very serious, and we take into consideration many different elements with each applicant.”

Some programs offered limit the number of times an individual can be assisted. One evaluation made for each application is the number of times a person has applied for assistance. Children also come first in the evaluation process.

Room in the Inn Shoals Inc. is an interfaith, community-based partnership that provides food and shelter to homeless during the winter months. Room in the Inn Shoals is made up of over 30 congregations and organizations, with an 11-member board of directors. They provide nightly emergency shelter from Nov. 1 until March 24.

Room in the Inn Shoals has sheltered over 430 guests since its establishment in 2014.

In order to receive shelter, homeless individuals must be sober and come to their intake center between 4 and 6 p.m. Room in the Inn Shoals is open seven days a week, including holidays.

The Florence Housing Authority does not offer services specifically for homeless individuals, but encourages all to apply for housing assistance.

“We don’t have emergency housing, however, try to help homeless find housing through our application process” said Rhonda Richardson, executive director of the Florence Housing Authority.

The Sunrise Center in Sheffield is a day shelter for the homeless and also provides supportive housing. The day shelter focuses on three primary areas: personal hygiene, job readiness and food security.

Clients receive assistance locating and maintaining permanent housing, advocacy and emotional support, including counseling and case management, vocational and employment assistance and referrals to community resources and services.

The Sunrise Center formed community partnerships with local resource agencies so that clients have a connection with the people and places outside of the Sunrise Center.

According to the Sunrise Center website, the goal of the Sunrise Center is that every person that needs the facility comes in feeling like they are not only welcome but part of the community there.