Provided by Hanna Connett, LCSD HELP Program
Homelessness is growing in Lincoln County. Yet there are no shelters for homeless families in the Lincoln City area, especially during the harsh winter months. There have been warming centers for critically cold nights for families who live in their cars to come in for the night but they’re right back out on the street very early in the morning. And it’s usually only for a night or two until a cold snap ends.
Having no regular shelters reeks havoc on families with children, the fastest growing segment of our local homeless population. Hanna Connett, Vista Volunteer for the Lincoln County School District’s HELP program, says the number of homeless students is growing every year to where they are now 10% of Lincoln County’s student population; over 450 children. As you might imagine, being homeless is a huge burden on children and teens. During an average school year, 41% of homeless children will attend two different schools. Nearly 30% will attend three, and with each change a student will be set back academically an average of four to six months. Connett says one in five homeless students will have to repeat a grade because of attendance problems. She says “Not having a shelter in Lincoln City increases the obstacles to the education of these children since their daily lives are so unstable from just trying to find a place to sleep at night.”
Connett and Lincoln County Schools are calling out to Lincoln City churches and other faith-based and non-profit social services and civic groups to help establish a network of homeless family shelters to help these desperate families and their children. A system launched in Eugene is proving successful, but only after the entire community pulled together. Churches and other groups can provide a physical shelter site, while others can provide food for it including bedding and personal toiletries. Caring for the homeless and their children can be rotated weekly or monthly or for however long any organization thinks they can do it. Even private individuals can donate food, money, clothing, whatever, that can help these beleaguered families.
The Community Call to Action to establish Homeless Family Night Shelters in Lincoln City will be held Saturday, April 14th, from 10 am to 12 noon at the Eventuary, 560 SW Fleet Avenue in Lincoln City. Those who attend will be clearly shown the need and will be exposed to a story of one homeless family that is barely keeping heart and soul together under our current crushing economic times. Connett says it will take the whole community working together to bring relief to these families, who, through no fault of their own, can’t find work, have no home and are literally at the mercy of the communities in which they live. Connett says only by creating a network of Family Night Shelters can the community bring peace to these families in crisis, help their children stay in school, and build a stronger and more compassionate community.
Community Call to Action, Saturday, April 14th, 10 am-12 noon, at the Eventuary, 560 SW Fleet Avenue, Lincoln City. Please come. Please Care. Please help.
For more information, 541-996-4878.