Programs available to help the homeless

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 2, 2005

Imagine losing your home, and having nowhere to go. Nowhere to sleep. Nothing to eat. No way to ensure that you and your children will feel better if you get sick.

Fortunately, there’s a few local organizations around to lend a helping hand to those in need.

For example, Social Services offers several programs that offer a bit of assistance to the area homeless.

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They give away food stamps and Medicaid, which can provide for food and medical care to the financially strapped. Their educational programs work with local adult education centers to help adults get their GED. In-house classes to prepare for the work force are offered, where students can learn how to dress, conflict resolution, and other skills that could help with employment.

Several of the Services’ programs are based on income, and the poverty level percentage in Suffolk. Childcare subsidies offer aid to those who need some extra help, as does the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

Social Services director Leonard Horton reported that he hadn’t seen a recent increase in demand for the programs.

Since December, a coalition has been growing to put forth an effort to aid those in need.

Suffolk is serving as a coordinating entity to the group, which consists of between 20 and 25 members from throughout the western Tidewater area. On April 28, an application was submitted to the department of Housing and Development in Richmond (it will eventually reach the national headquarters in Washington, D.C.) for funding to what community development coordinator Justin Brooks labeled, &uot;a whole host of projects.&uot;

Though he wasn’t certain exactly which programs were listed, Brooks speculated that they would include, &uot;an expansion of existing supporting services, such as programs for the mentally ill and the substance abuse dependent, as well as potentially transitional housing facilities.

&uot;This is our first real viable chance at seeing this funding,&uot; said Brooks, who hopes to have an answer later in the year. &uot;We are competing against other localities throughout the city, the state and the nation.&uot;

For more information about programs offered by Social Services, call 923-3000.