Despite Statewide Decline, Homelessness A Problem In Wicomico Co - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Despite Statewide Decline, Homelessness A Problem In Wicomico Co

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MARYLAND – The frigid temperatures can bring a lot of concerns across the Eastern Shore, especially for the homeless.

According to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 8,205 people across Maryland are homeless. Since 2010, that is a decrease by 2,640 individuals.

However, on the Eastern Shore, that may not be the case.

"I can tell you tri-county wise we are not seeing a decrease," says Celeste Savage, executive director at Hope and Life Outreach (HALO) ministry in Salisbury, Maryland. HALO provides an emergency shelter, a café that serves three meals every day, and a day program from 8:45 AM to 4:30 PM. "We've seen an increase, it's a lot."

Savage says according to a "point-in-time" survey, which estimates the scope of homelessness on a single night of January each year; the tri-county area has more than 350 homeless people. This is reportedly an increase from 253 the year before.

"It amazes me the amount of people coming through here, it just seems like there's new faces," says Savage. "We have a lot of the old faces coming but we have a lot of new faces coming through too."

Savage says the five billion dollar cut from the country's food stamps program is one major reason for the new faces at HALO.

"That causes families that depend on that income to come here until the money from their food stamps goes back on their card," says Savage. "They are coming here to eat instead."

For the Joseph House Crisis Center in Salisbury, which provides a food pantry, hospitality room for the homeless, soup kitchen, and cash assistance for emergency needs, the cold weather can bring an influx of people.

"Between now and January there's going to be some very cold nights, and it's very hard," says Sister Virginia Peckham, a novice with the Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary Inc., who administers the Joseph House.

For homeless men, the churches do not open their doors until January.

"It's the homeless men that are really lacking for a place to stay in the really cold weather," says Sister Peckham.

While both the Joseph House and Halo ministry say they are incredibly grateful for their volunteers, they still need help with monetary donations and goods.

"We especially things like razors, tooth paste, tooth brushes, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, and those little soaps," says Sister Peckham.

"A lot of times people don't think about it, but it's those staple items that we really need, the flour the sugar, says Savage. "Milk is huge, we desperately need milk."

Savage says they are also in need of some last minute items for their Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, in which they plan to serve 150 meals. She says they are still looking for coffee, pumpkin pies, and sugar.

For more information on how you can donate or volunteer to the Joseph House, you can call 410-749-4239 or 410-543-8171, or visit their website. Checks can be made payable to The Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary at P.O. Box 1755, Salisbury, MD, 21802.

For more information on how you can donate or volunteer with the HALO ministry, call 410-742-9356, or visit their website.

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