The following appeared in the the October 23, 2015, Spirit of Jefferson:
Homeless on minds of Jefferson County officials as winter nears
By Zach Cumberland
CHARLES TOWN — With high temps this week in the 60s and 70s, many of us aren’t thinking about cold weather plans, but Glenda Helman, the executive director at Community Networks Inc., is a different story.
“No one should have to be out there on the street in particularly cold weather,” Helman said. “We’ll find a way to get those individuals housed either through existing shelters, using hotel/motel vouchers, if that’s what’s needed, and sometimes folks work together to double up so that they can be housed.”
Beginning in 2013, Community Networks Inc. began working with the Jefferson County Partnership for Affordable Housing to ensure homeless individuals and families had housing in Jefferson County.
Those helped through the program take part in weekly case management meetings where they design action plans and address goals, including employment, development of job and life skills, education and budgeting. They also get referrals to available resources such as mental health and substance abuse services.
Program participants pay 30 percent of their gross income as their portion of monthly rent, Helman said. This helps to forge responsibility for budgeting and money management, she said.
“The response has been wonderful,” Helman said. “We’ve been very happy working with the Jefferson County Partnership for Affordable Housing.”
As winter nears, she and other Jefferson County leaders are looking at their cold weather plans, Helman said, and the resources that might be available in the event of very cold weather.
“We would be able to help shelter and place the homeless population in specific locations,” she said. “In the past, the Department of Veteran Affairs has worked to shelter veteran individuals and families, as well as any other folks out there that need shelter.
The problem of homelessness is not going away, Helman said.
“I think we’re actually beginning to see our homeless population growing a bit,” she said. “At the same time I know that we are making efforts here in the eastern panhandle and moving forward with ending veteran homelessness, which is our first priority and working to end chronic homelessness in our communities.”
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