Those who are homeless in Tallahassee found themselves sleeping out in the cold this past week due to over capacity at shelters around the city. The city admitted to a lack of preparation and proper communication causing the problem.
The Hope House Rescue Mission, an independent church-based group, provides shelter to homeless citizens. The Mission found themselves going above and beyond their means when denied funds to buy extra tents and heaters for the homeless.
Danny Heaberlin, director of the Mission, claims to have contacted Tom Lewis, director of economic and community development for the City of Tallahassee, on January 9. After receiving no response from Lewis, Heaberlin took matters into his own hands and called Fun Machine, a company that provides Spacewalks, Moonbounces, Inflatables, etc., to request a tent.
While the Mission and the downtown shelter were able to provide a roof and a warm bed for many homeless last week during the freeze, there were still many homeless that were turned away due to lack of preparation.
The city claims to have “taken [their] cue from the homeless agencies themselves,” waiting for them to report that they were in need of additional help.
If Heaberlin alone, with persistence, could manage to find just those items for a small number of the homeless in Tallahassee, how much more could the city have provided if it actually took the initiative?
Rather than hiding behind technicalities and pointing the blame at who did what, the city should use the resources that are available to them. This would ensure that next time we have a freeze, there is a plan in place.
Proper preparations must be made to take care of all of Tallahassee’s citizens, this includes the homeless.