MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The economic collapse brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has left many people in Montgomery homeless.
For months, stimulus checks and a mandate preventing evictions were helping keep people off the streets, but when those federal relief programs ended, homeless shelters became inundated with residents.
“Our phone calls increased quite significantly,” said Friendship Mission Executive Director Tara Davis. “People were not able to keep their footing. They weren’t able to stay in their homes. Maybe they couldn’t pay the utilities or they couldn’t pay the rent or something went wrong in the wake of COVID-19 and they are seeking emergency shelter.”
Friendship Mission runs two shelters in the city, one for women and children and another for men that doubles as a public soup kitchen. People can stay in their shelters for up to a year while staff helps them get back on their feet.
How the mission operates has changed during the pandemic. Life skills classes were put on hold, and their soup kitchen transitioned to to-go meals only.
“That’s the best way for us to serve our mission and keep people safe,” Davis said.
A hand-washing station was also donated so people receiving a meal can wash their hands.
When someone new arrives seeking shelter, they are required to stay inside of an isolation room for two weeks. Masks are required to be worn in most public locations and shelters are disinfected multiple times a day.
Davis said so far these preventative measures have helped. Friendship Mission has not had any positive cases of COVID-19 inside any of their shelters.
“So far COVID has not entered Friendship Missions’ shelters and we are trying to keep it that way,” Davis said.
Friendship Mission is always in need of donations. If you would like to make a monetary donation or donate an item on their “wish list,” visit their website or call 334-356-6412.