Scranton P.A. City's homeless facing shelter shortage

Discussion in 'Economy' started by hvactec, Aug 8, 2011.

  1. hvactec

    hvactec VIP Member

    Jan 17, 2010
    Thanks Received:
    Trophy Points:
    New Jersey
    Scranton's homeless may find shelter scarce this winter.

    Only one shelter with a limited number of beds now remains, potentially leaving many of the city's homeless without a place to stay with frigid temperatures only months away.

    The shelter at Bethel AME Church is now closed permanently, the Rev. Darlene Jenkins recently confirmed to The Times-Tribune.

    She decided to shut it down - nearly two decades since its doors opened - after a belligerent patron threatened violence in February.

    The incident convinced her that the church "just can't meet the need like that anymore."

    "We're going to look at other ways to help the poor and the homeless," she said.

    Monsignor Joseph Kelly, a local advocate for the poor and homeless as executive director of Catholic Social Services, said the demise of the Bethel shelter has left a deep void and created insecurity as to whether another agency can fill the gap.

    Prospects 'grim'

    "It's very grim," he said. "Those of us that are providers of service to the homeless are really frightened by what the prospects are."

    The closing will significantly cut the number of overnight beds available for the city's homeless.

    The Bethel shelter had provided a temporary home and a meal for up to 40 people, sometimes even accommodating more than 60 during a fierce winter storm, said the Rev. Kathryn Simmons, president of the shelter's board of directors. The Rev. Simmons opposes the closing.

    "We are going to do everything we can to get those doors back open," she said.

    Monsignor Kelly's organization now runs the city's only homeless shelter, St. Anthony's Haven, which has 24 beds.

    "There is no doubt in our minds that we're going to be overloaded at St. Anthony's," he said.

    The problem has been made much worse by federal and state budget cuts that have stripped funds for providing services to the homeless and social service agencies.

    A planned downtown shelter for homeless veterans proposed by Catholic Social Services is now probably off the table after the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency turned down funds for the project, Monsignor Kelly said.

    "I'm not sure how Bethel would have opened anyhow, to be honest with you," he said. "All that money and more has been cut."

    Demand soars

    Evidence of the sour economy's impact on Northeast Pennsylvania's poorest is widespread.

    In the last week of July, Catholic Social Services' St. Francis of Assisi Kitchen served meals to "well over 260 people daily," Monsignor Kelly said, up from its average of 200 people a day.

    Read more City's homeless facing shelter shortage - News - The Times-Tribune

Share This Page