MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Mid-Alabama Coalition for the Homeless (MACH) is working to provide home for the homeless.
The federal government defines homelessness as sleeping on the streets, in your car, in an abandoned building, or sleeping in a shelter. On any given night, there are as many as 800 homeless people in the River Region.
“Homelessness does not equal hopelessness,” said Patrick Aitken, a case worker with MACH. He comes face to face with the River Region's homeless every day. MACH has taken dozens of people out of shelters, placed them in homes, and watched everything else in their life turn around.
“Once we get our homeless clients into housing, their priorities change,” Aitken said. MACH calls the program "Rapid Rehousing”.
Stan Matthews knows the difference it can make first hand.
“To me, personally, housing is one of the basic staples anybody needs,” Matthews said.
Matthews said about a basic need he didn’t have two years ago. Struggling with a drug addition, out of money, and stranded in Montgomery, he found himself at the Salvation Army.
“I lived there for six months,” Matthews explained he slept in a room with as many as 30 other people.
“They were getting ready to go somewhere else that I didn’t want to go. So it come out my mouth that “Y’all go ahead, I’m going home”. I’m calling the Salvation Army home.... something clicked, and that’s not where I wanted to be to call home.”
That's where MACH and Rapid Rehousing stepped in.
“MACH would pay the first month's rent and security deposit to get the client moved in, and also pay the utility deposits to get the utilities turned on, and any back utilities they may have owed to Alabama Power or what-not. Then the client pays for the second month, then the third month we pay, the client pays the fourth month, we pay the fifth month, then after that the client should be on their feet strong enough to handle the rent every month on their own,” explained Aitken.
More than a year later, Stan is still in his home and has big plans for the future.
“Eventually, I'll own my own home. I'll own my own home,” he promises. “From homeless to home.”
Learn more about MACH and the Rapid Rehousing Program here.
Currently, MACH has had to put the Rapid Rehousing Program on hold until the grant that provides the funding can be renewed. It's expected to be another couple of months before it's available again.
In the meantime, MACH continues to work with those it’s already placed in housing, checking in periodically to make sure they’re budgeting properly, continuing to work, and also providing any small needs they may have..