Local homeless shelters: “The phones are ringing off the hooks”
MARYLAND – Governor Larry Hogan says there’s been an almost 10 percent decrease in homelessness, across the state, in the last two years. But shelters here on the Eastern Shore, tell 47 ABC that they don’t necessarily think there’s been a significant drop in the homeless population.
“People are calling. The phones are ringing off the hooks. They’re looking for places to stay but there’s no where for them,” says Joyce Cottman, the Executive Director of the Lower Shore Shelter in Princess Anne.
“We were seeing maybe one or two children and then within two days we had 17 children,” says Celeste Savage, the Executive Director of HALO Ministry in Salisbury.
This comes after Gov. Hogan announced, on Wednesday, that there was a 9.5 percent decrease in homelessness, statewide. That number comes from a survey, called Point In Time Count, conducted on a night in January.
“The surveys are great. It gives us some ballpark to work with but I think for the vast majority of the shelters in the area, I know speaking for HALO, it’s an ebb and flow and I don’t necessarily see it going down like that,” says Savage.
While some shelters say the surveys are helpful, they admit there are flaws.
“I’m sure that it probably doesn’t capture everything that we need, to figure out how much homelessness there really is. Because I think that if it did, we wouldn’t be short beds and we wouldn’t have waiting lists,” says Cottman.
Shelter directors tell 47 ABC homelessness won’t actually decrease until barriers like transportation, health and nutrition are addressed. Those are barriers that directors say allow the cycle to continue.
“A lot of times, because down here because we are so rural, you could be 10 miles from a grocery store. If you don’t have transportation to get there you eat whatever you have there to eat,” says Cottman.
Officials also tell 47 ABC, they’re actually seeing an influx of younger people who are experiencing homelessness. They say there are always new and growing needs that need be addressed, as time goes on.
Both shelters tell 47 ABC that the local community plays a huge part in helping them support the homeless.
So if you’d like to donate to, volunteer at or need resources from the Lower Shore Shelter, call 443-888-6160.
And if you’d like to donate to, volunteer at or need resources from HALO, call 410-742-9356.