The issue of homelessness in Morgantown, W.Va. is not a secret. If you walk down High Street at anytime of the day or night, you’re likely to be asked if you could spare some change. This is a small piece of the issue that we see before our eyes, but there is much more to the story than this. You may be surprised to know how much the growing homeless population in Morgantown impacts your life.
Photo courtesy of MountaineerNewsService.com
According to WDTV, the homeless population in Morgantown grew by 30 percent just last year. The cold weather and holidays may have some of us thinking of the less fortunate, but it’s not just the people you see on the streets that are in need of help.
- The primary cause of homelessness in Morgantown is lack of affordable housing.
- The majority of people experiencing homelessness in the community are not visible like the people we see on the streets.
- The majority of homeless people in the community are working at least part time.
- Families with children are the fastest growing portion of the homeless population in Morgantown.
According to the Morgantown Homelessness Task Force, “The immediate impact of homelessness is, of course, on those who find themselves without a place to live. However, this problem also affects the quality of life for all in our community. The costs of homelessness are not just borne by those who directly experience homelessness. Everyone pays at least some of the personal, health, social, economic and governmental costs of homelessness because of the demand upon, and cost of, police, health and other public services.”
As the temperature drops each day, you may be asking now more than ever, what is being done to address this growing issue?
- In September, Senators Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller announced more than $23 million in federal funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for community development, affordable housing, and homelessness prevention and relief in West Virginia.
- The Homelessness Task Force is a creation of the Morgantown City Council and the Monongalia County Commission. Its goal is to address homelessness and vagrancy in Morgantown and the surrounding metropolitan area.
- The City of Morgantown Community Development Office administrates annual grant monies from the federal government with the goal of providing decent housing, a suitable living environment and expanded economic opportunities.
- Multidisciplinary Unsheltered Homeless Relief Outreach: Morgantown (MUSHROOM) is a medical student outreach to homeless people in Morgantown. Every two weeks, medical students with faculty physicians make rounds on the streets to find the homeless to give medical care and food.
- Homeless Shelters and clothing places such as Christian Help offer the less fortunate food, shelter and a temporary peace of mind.
The actions being taken and institutions being created are a start, but there is a large misconception among residents in town of what it truly means to be homeless in this area. The sooner we realize that the majority of homeless people are not the ones we see begging for money on High Street, the better. We need to realize that a majority of this population is made up of families and people who are working. If housing is so expensive that a working mother or father can’t afford to put a roof over their child’s head, that’s something that should concern us all.