The recent Sentinel Asked/Answered column regarding homeless persons in our community was not able to address all of the issues in the limited space available.
One of the significant factors not addressed was that many homeless persons would be very willing to take advantage of services that could help them if those services were available. All of the nonprofit organizations in our community that assist those vulnerable persons in need of housing have reached or are exceeding their capacity to help based on the resources available.
There is help available for Carlisle's unsheltered residents, but convincing them to accept it can difficult, experts say.
During my time with Safe Harbour over the past 7 1/2 years, we have been, and remain, at our capacity to assist the homeless of Cumberland County and beyond. Our 25 Emergency Shelter units and 28 permanent affordable housing units are perpetually filled and, when a unit becomes available, we are able to identify our next client/resident literally within hours.
Recent statistics from the Cumberland County Housing and Redevelopment Authorities indicated that there were more than 200 households in Cumberland County seeking and waiting for housing services.
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Our inability to meet the needs of our community’s homeless population can be directly linked to the continued scarcity of funding available from governmental sources. During the past decade, federal and state funding for our organization has been essentially flat, with no increases and some significant decreases in programmatic funding. Since 2012, funding from governmental programs has declined to less than 30 percent of Safe Harbour’s annual operating budget, a decrease of more than 7% in the past seven years.
Safe Harbour and our community friends Community CARES, Salvation Army of Carlisle, and Domestic Violence Services of Cumberland and Perry Counties work diligently every day and every hour to provide as much as we can to help those in need who seek assistance.
However, there is much more we cannot do because of the continually shrinking resources we receive.
Scott K. Shewell
President and CEO of Safe Harbour