Roanoke, VA

Local resources for the homeless are not guaranteed and often have conditions that must be met

Cheryl E Preston
The homeless need assistancePhoto byJon TysononUnsplash

Resources for those in need are not aways helpful

Local leaders recently met to discuss the Roanoke homeless situation and determined the following:

"One of the biggest tips given to the community is to not give homeless people money or food because it builds a false sense of security. Instead, share with them the resources available".

The afore mentioned "resources" have stipulations and people must qualify on an individual basis the same way every person dealing with a loss of finances may not qualify for a SNAP card or help with delinquient bills. Roanoke Area Ministries (RAM house) the Salvation Army Roanoke Social Services and other organizations have guideines and have turned away many needy individuals because they did not qualify.
Hunger hurtsPhoto bySteve KnutsononUnsplash

Lists of possible resources don't help everyone

A young woman I know had her husband to leave and she was a stay at home mom with 3 children and now no source of income. She began looking for immediate employment but the bills went on. She also went all over town applying for various services only to be turned down or put on a waiting list. The majority of the resources she was given were lists of names and phone numbers of possbile housing or food pantries. Many numbers were disconected or no one returned her messages or she could not afford the rent of the places that were offfered. She eventually did receive assistance from several programs from TAP (Total Action For Progress) includign counseling.

Through word of mouth from someone who had actuaally been homeless she found out about the Roanoke Hat Team (Homeless Assistance Program) who paid her deposit and part of her first month's rent on a new place to live.The Hat Team also helps homeless individuals to find somewhere to live but they must meet certain criteria including having been hospitilized for mental health issues and living on the streets for a specific amount of time.

She was fortunate because it came just days before she and her children would have been homeless but everyone is not so blessed and they end up in the streets. This is why telling Roanoke Valley residents the best thing they can do for the hungry homeless is to not to feed them is not a good idea. Each person should be considered as an individual because they may be waiting on approval of services that take months or they don't qualify for.
Helping those in needPhoto byTom ParsonsonUnsplash

There may be stipulations with resources

The Salem VA recently announced that they had assisted the national effort to get homeless veterans off the streets by placing 125 of them in homes or apartments and emphasized that "some of them" received subsidies that offset their monthly payments. This lets us know that nto every homeless veteran could pay the entire rent on their own and that some may not have qualified for assistance. There are many Roanokers who can tell you that they lost a job or had a decrease in in wages but they did nto qualify for assistance from any of the local organizations that help with deliquent bills because their income was above the limit.

The same is true for SNAP benefits, Medicaid or those with children seeking Tanif.There areguidelines guidelines. that must be met. It would be nice if there were programs to assit every person who has a need but the type of money necessary is not in place. Some "resources" that are advised require the applicant to not have a limited amount of cash on hand, money in the bank,not own a life insurance policy, have a last paycheck coming or a vehicle worth a specific amount.
HomelessnessPhoto byDean BennettonUnsplash

100% of those who apply will not benefit from the resources

Those who may be trying to prevent losing a home or are new to homelessness may not have exhauted every personal resource so they do not qualify for the help they need. I have spoken with several homeless people over the years who obtained rthe helpful resources and had rental assistance but landlords would not rent to them because of their police record. They had served their time but were still being penalied for the crime.

A list of resources does not fill a hungry belly and if any person feels led not to give food or money to a homeless individual it should be their own personal decision and not because city officials told them. There is an old saying that if you give a man a fish he will eat for a day but if you teach him to fish he can eat for a lifetime. A person will be better able to learn how to catch fish if they have food in their stomach while they are being taught .

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I write, about breaking news, and current events. I wrote a newspaper column from 1997 to 2007 and have written for various online platforms since 2012 including Yahoo Contributor Network, Hubpages, and Vocal Media.

Roanoke, VA

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