The Times West Virginian

December 12, 2013

Community can rally to address homelessness on long-term basis

Times West Virginian

— “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

— Matthew 25:40

There comes a moment in time that you are beyond helping yourself.

Cold, hungry, penniless, wracked with disease, a victim of substance abuse, afflicted with mental problems.

It’s easy to ignore the problem of homelessness. On a daily basis, you don’t see the effects of complete and hopeless poverty that is nearly impossible to overcome. But we can’t ignore it. If we want to truly be stewards within our community, we have to care for “the least of these brothers and sisters.”

A group is leading the charge to help reduce the problems of homelessness in our community and beyond. The Marion County Coalition to End Homelessness (MCCEH) is taking steps with its Housing First Initiative to combat the problem right here in our county.

Gena Wagaman, who works with the coalition, said the MCCEH’s Housing First Initiative addresses the homelessness issue in Fairmont on a long-term basis.

“What we’re working for with this group is not to manage homelessness, but to end it,” she said. “It’s going to take time, and it’s going to take us working together.”

And that is something we all need to support. The coalition wants to do more than just put a roof over the heads of the homeless. It will also offer them resources to help them get back on their feet.

That means counseling, employment, treatment and long-term housing.

Efforts will start with a census to determine the depth of the problem and much more planning and coordinating to make sure that not only is there the desire to end homelessness in this county, but that the resources are there, too.

After all, how far removed are each of us from rock bottom? Two paychecks? Three?

We applaud the efforts and encourage this community to rally behind the cause.