The homeless situation

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 2, 2005

While homelessness in Suffolk doesn’t appear to be the problem it is in other cities – according to those who deal with it every day – all signs point to the potential for it to grow.

For one thing, many people live on the brink – paycheck to paycheck, credit cards maxed out – and as such, are just a job downsizing or medical calamity away from being out on the street.

And rising home selling prices are trickling down, pushing rents up for people already struggling to make ends meet.

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Homelessness is a problem for which Suffolk needs to be prepared – and it is not.

Fortunately, however, things are happening with the continuum of care-an organization of about two dozen agencies that deal with the poor and homeless-which has been meeting to make a plan to secure funding to make more services available.

Chief among those, as outlined by Suffolk Shelter for the Homeless Director Terry Miller on today’s front page – are accommodations for homeless men and transitional housing for those who cannot afford market rents so they can work and save for the transition to private housing.

The Shelter’s resources are limited and those who have hit rock bottom often need more than the six weeks of shelter and counseling that it provides. Getting back on one’s feet can take years. It doesn’t happen overnight.

Nobody knows what the future will bring. If we’re lucky, Suffolk’s booming economic growth will provide the jobs and revenues to continue to insulate us from the problem, but should things take a turn for the worse, it’s good to know that there are caring people and agencies who are trying to be ready for it.