Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Editorial: Homeless doesn’t have to be hopeless

Growth for some organizations is bittersweet. For Love INC, organizers are happy to finally be able to expand services to include transitional housing for people without homes, even if it’s only on a limited basis so far. It’s a goal the group has been working toward for years, and Love INC is poised establish to a consistent, sustainable program.

It’s coming just in time, as economic woes are putting more people in need of Love INC’s services.

“In December it was so cold, and we said, ‘We’ve got to do something,’” said Ingrid Edgerly, executive director.

The organization worked out an arrangement with a local hotel to rent out rooms to those needing housing for a steeply discounted rate. The money comes from donations from businesses and organizations in the area. It’s a shining example of how a community support net should work — people see a need, they decide to step up and figure out a way to meet it and others jump on board to support those efforts.

But it’s not nearly enough. In 2007 there were already 400 to 500 people who considered themselves homeless on the Kenai Peninsula, according to the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. More recent figures aren’t available yet, but Edgerly can attest to the fact that those numbers are growing, just as their requests for services are.

People don’t have to be standing on street corners or sleeping in boxes to be homeless, and it’s not a situation most people find themselves in by choice. Especially these days, any unexpected cost or unforeseen circumstance can lead someone to eviction.

And neighbors don’t have to make six figures to help. Donating what they can, when they can goes a long way toward helping Love INC extend its reach to housing.

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