I could speak at length in this space about everything that’s going on (or not going on) to help the unsheltered homeless in Allentown.
Please do check out all of the recent coverage of WFMZ, LehighValleyLive, and the Morning Call (including Emily Opilio and Bill White).
Right now, I just want to say this, because it’s a refrain that needs internal and external addressing.
The Rescue Mission (for example) does lots of great work. I’ve volunteered there many, many times. We need it.
That said, there is confusion out there about what the Rescue Mission will and won’t do when it’s this cold, in terms of relaxing certain criteria. The fact that we, a group of highly educated, housed people, have had so many different answers and on the ground experiences (with homeless friends in tow!) says one thing: we need a publicly proclaimed and universally honored consistency of experience. Try navigating this on your own when you’re out on the street, in the cold, hungry, in need of a million basic things.
The Mission, like other local social-service groups, has gone through lots of leadership changes in recent months. Whatever the disconnect is, I know it can be resolved. But I also know what won’t and can’t happen: the ARM will not be able to accommodate every one at Safe Haven, nor will it be able to take any of the women. Safe Haven is busting at the seems with close to 50 on a regular basis, almost 1/5 of them women. The Salvation Army’s beds are full, so a woman’s choice is to sleep on the floor of their lobby or sleep on the floor of Safe Haven. Safe Haven is much closer to the Soup Kitchen (St. Paul’s hosts the Soup Kitchen; the Conference of Churches runs it), and St. Paul’s also organizes weekly community breakfasts on Sunday mornings. Furthermore, the homeless know that they are safe in and around the St. Paul’s campus during the day, because St. Paul’s also has a daytime drop in center.
Is this all making sense?