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Alabama responds to rise in homelessness during pandemic

Published: Apr. 9, 2021 at 10:51 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Homeless advocates say those who are homeless are normally private people.

“I wouldn’t say they’re anti-social but they want to remain invisible,” case manager Patrick Aitken said.

The homeless population is growing due to the pandemic and is becoming more visible under bridges and in abandoned buildings, and shelters have also had to make adjustments.

“Providing meals to go instead of on-site meals and a lot of times when people come in and sit down for a meal that’s a time to connect them with services that they need, so you miss that aspect of it,” executive director of the Mid-Alabama Coalition for the Homeless Lydia Pickett said.

A new grant will soon help these agencies help those in need.

The federal emergency solutions grant program will allot more than $22 million to help Alabamians who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, providing shelter, legal aid, health services and other assistance.

In our area, the Mid-Alabama Coalition for the Homeless and four other providers will receive funds from the grant.

“It will help Salvation Army, Friendship Mission, Family Promise of Montgomery and Family Sunshine Center,” Pickett said.

Around $1.7 million will be awarded in total, and Pickett says the money will go a long way in helping those who need it most.

“We’re serving a population that’s very vulnerable to a lot of things, including the coronavirus, and we’re serving a population that’s very much in need, and for whatever reason, sometimes it’s not easy to connect to people who have the greatest need but that’s where we need to give our very best to people who need us the very most,” Pickett said.

Fifteen agencies will receive funds from the grant, and the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is administering the grants from funds made available by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as part of the CARES Act.

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