Meeting On Overflow Homeless Shelter Called By New Bedford Councilors
It's been about a week since I've slept outside in the cold for the Rise Up For Homes: Homelessness Awareness event at Normandin Middle School.
Each day that passes reminds me of the harsh conditions that I endeavored through the night as sleep became more a fantasy rather than a reality. To make matters worse, as cold as it was outside that night (35 degrees)... it wasn't cold enough for the shelters to open up (must be 26 degrees).
Homelessness is rapidly growing into an overpopulation within the shelters here in New Bedford. The facts about this have been known for quite some time and now that it's a larger issue than it should be, it's finally being recognized.
An overflow shelter is being asked of with a hefty price of $100,000 tacked to it. The awarness program from last Friday night had raised $9,000 already thanks to First Citizens Federal Credit Union and the Homeless Providers Service Network, but that's only a mere 10% of goal and winter's right around the corner.
“We are abusing people every day across the Commonwealth by saying let’s get below freezing before we open the shelter.” said Councilor Joseph Lopes.
According to At-large Councilor David Alves, It really comes down to the Mayor and Pat Sullivan who is in charge of the Planning, Housing and Community Development Department.
"“The issue is not new. It’s been here for 40 years" said Alves.
There are simply some things in life that without the experience or encounter, are simply irrelevant to us. If it doesn't affect or benefit our own lives, then why reach out? That right there lies the problem. Any situation that is overlooked shouldn't get to tipping point before something is done or accomplished.
“What we were trying to say is we do know the issue. What we didn’t know was what it felt like. When you feel it, you taste it, you can feel it,” said Council President Brian K. Gomes.
I was there that cold Fall night beside my fellow colleague and friend Gomes and take my word when I tell you that there was truly a difference in his expression, in the look in his eyes when he came to terms with the local situation.
We are all human... let's start acting like one and help one another.