‘Homelessness and hunger do not stop because it’s Thanksgiving,’ advocate says

Many factors can lead to homelessness

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Not everyone will have a home to eat a warm Thanksgiving meal. For many, it will be at a soup kitchen or food pantry where they will find sustenance this holiday season.

“Homelessness and hunger do not stop because it’s Thanksgiving or it’s Easter," said Tara Davis, who is the Friendship Mission executive director.

The organization has a soup kitchen where they plan to serve Thanksgiving dinner. Willie Patterson will spend his Thanksgiving serving those at the kitchen.

“I enjoy going and feeding the homeless people," Patterson said.

He spends many days at the kitchen as the current cook.

“They come in and they appreciate it and they say thank you. Thank you for a good meal,” he said.

More than 3,400 people were considered homeless on an average day in Alabama according to 2018 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development numbers.

Davis said there are several contributing factors to homelessness. She said a low minimum wage, a lack of education and lack of public transit can affect it.

“Sometimes it’s just no one ever explained how finances worked," she said. “When you are homeless, you still need doctors services.”

Friendship Mission provides case management resources for people in need. Davis suggests lawmakers and other help fund organizations like this who can directly impact those experiencing homelessness.

Lydia Pickett is the executive director of the Mid-Alabama Coalition for the Homeless. She said it is a “step-by-step” process to help someone get out of homelessness.

Pickett said the solution is not just to put a roof on someone’s head. Other solutions include programs to help people who are chronically unemployable stay on the job. People may also need a counselor to help them with family disputes which could eventually lead to permanent residency.

*The following numbers are point-in-time data points. Groups collected the number of people in shelters and un-sheltered during Jan. 2019.

Region Number of people experiencing homelessness
Jefferson, Shelby and St. Claire Counties 981
Limestone, Madison and Morgan Counties 464
Autauga, Bullock, Elmore, Lowndes, Montgomery Counties 1,100
Mobile and Baldwin Counties 505

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