Where are We at? What’s Next? (June 1-14, 2020)

This week we are going to review the status of three groups of people in our community that we are all concerned about. The first are those folks now living in motels, thanks to all of you. The second group are those still on the streets and the third are those in danger of becoming homeless.

There are currently 146 people including 31 children being housed by HHH in seven area motels. New additions this past two weeks include a 40 year old with a broken shoulder, a single dad and his two year old son, a referral by a mental health provider, a mom with four kids, a couple in their late fifties one of which is suffering a severe kidney infection, a victim of domestic abuse with two preschoolers. Another mother with two children was put into a room after an eviction, a woman working in a chain store was paying her own way in a motel but ran out of money, a widow lost her home due to foreclosure, two pregnant couples, a chronically homeless fellow, an elderly woman with serious physical and mental health issues were all provided a place to stay thanks to all of your efforts. Not only did these folks get a motel room but were provided with meals through the generosity of (The Place of Hope 1,550 meals) , (Central Mn Catholic Workers, St Benedicts Monastery, St Joseph’s Church in St. Joe ,514 meals (Neighbors to Friends 238 meals),Salvation Army, and YES. These meals were prepared and delivered by an army of over 40 volunteers who also provided clothing, games and reading material.

For the most part, motel guests are settling in nicely. While some have had difficulties with their afflictions, and depression, others had trouble maintaining a personal relationship with their counselors, still others are using their time to plan for a better future. Four motel residents have found apartments with two more expected to join them before the end of the month. This is partly due to your generous contributions that helped them pay for deposits, get jobs and save for their first month’s rent. County housing workers also assisted them in this effort. Catholic Charities has been providing outreach services to most of our residents connecting them to resources that will enable them to receive EBT and IDs and a multitude of other benefits. This has been a weak spot in the program since many agencies have been operating remotely. HHH has only received grants to get people off the streets and into a place where they can be protected from the virus and maintain hygiene. In this regard it has been a huge success, to our knowledge, no resident of our motels has tested positive for the virus, yet. No funds were provided for other services, except security, even food, but thanks to you they are being fed .We are hoping that as things start opening up again, that the social service agencies will be freed back into the community that so desperately needs them before clients become dispersed again. Many guests are also eager to get back to work and we hope that employers and agencies that provide access to jobs finds this nugget of eager workers soon. We expect the motel program to last up to sixty days after the end of the peacetime emergency declared by the governor.

On the Street
Things here have not been so rosy. Lack of access to food and hygiene has taken its toll. Depression, chemical abuse, domestic violence has increased as resources have become scarcer. As people become more desperate to find a place to sleep, food to eat, and places to wash up, abuse increases. If you are starving the temptation to get whatever you can from whomever intensifies. Sadly, the victims of this desperation are too often other folks experiencing homelessness or one’s own family. Dumpster diving for sale-able valuables or even food is now common. Sending some to the hospital with food poisoning. Ambushing of food shelf recipients in order to steal their rations is happening. Frustrations often leads to fighting and arguing and abuse. The sense of hopelessness exacerbates psychological trauma. Chemical addiction can seem like the only way to get relief. Many in our community are working to alleviate some of this suffering. The food shelves are doing what they can as are those organizations distributing food bags to those in need. You who have donated time and money to the Lake George hot meal program sponsored by, HHH, Neighbors to Friends and Catholic Workers have provided over 420 meals the past two weeks, thank you. You have also assisted one person who was unsheltered, not in a motel, to get into an apartment.

The End of the Eviction Moratorium
The success of the motel program, and the overwhelming outpouring of help from all sectors of our city has shown that we can rise to any challenge. The unexpected demand for motel rooms we have experienced has demonstrated the critical need for affordable housing in our city. Every effort should be made to encourage any and every innovative idea to address these issues soon. This is especially true because the crisis of homelessness is about to become much worse. As part of the enactment of the peacetime emergency landlords were forbidden from evicting people behind on their rent. When so many folks in low paying jobs were laid off, they soon fell behind in their rental payments, now some are two or three months behind. While a few are being re-hired many are so far behind that they will be unable to pay the huge lump sum that will be needed to prevent eviction or foreclosure when the moratorium ends. These multitudes of newly evicted will join the hundreds we already have on the streets not for a short time while they get on their feet, but for as long as seven years. Evictions go on a person’s rental history and credit report. Banks and landlords use these records to determine whether to rent or provide a mortgage for a new home. If an individual cannot buy a house or rent an apartment because they have an eviction on their record, they have no place to live. They are now officially homeless, for seven years. The time has come to join together and creatively figure out how to prevent this catastrophe that has the potential to effect so much anguish and agony on so many of our friends and neighbors. We need to stop these evictions from happening. It can be done by law, but it is better if we stop them through a mutual collaboration between individuals and their landlords, with the support of churches, agencies, governments, charitable organizations and businesses. This can be done. You helped us figure out how to protect and feed hundreds of our neighbors experiencing homelessness, protecting them from a vicious pandemic. Let us somehow figure out how to help those who through no fault of their own, lost their jobs, and now face eviction, from falling into this pit-hole of perpetual poverty and pain.

A big virtual hug and a thank you to those who have contributed since our last bulletin. The Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, St Paul’s Church $205, Bad Hat Digital $300, The Order of Saint Benedict St. Johns Abbey $1,000, First United Methodist $300, other generous individuals $2,300.

We can use tents, sleeping bags, back packs, bug spray, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, $10 gas cards.

Donations can be sent to:
Homeless Helping Homeless
PO Box 475
Saint Cloud 56302
Or contact us to make a delivery at:
Phones 612-868-0465 or 320-309-2952
Email: hfleegel@aol.com
Website: homelesshelpinghomeless.org

Take time to find the good in everyone you meet. -Harry, Mary, and Troy