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Staffing shortages hit North Alabama homeless shelters

“If they’re in the homeless camps getting by in the warmer weather, that poses really a severe risk if they can’t get into a shelter this time of year from the cold,”
Published: Dec. 13, 2021 at 9:45 PM CST
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DECATUR, Ala. (WAFF) - The Salvation Army of Decatur can’t reopen their emergency shelter for the winter due to an all too common issue - a shortage of staff. The organization says they are currently operating with half the number of employees needed, and have no employees for their emergency shelter program.

“It’s something I think we’re all feeling with this inflationary pressure leading to cost of living increases. Whether you’re a non-profit or for-profit, and of course that’s creating certain wage and staffing competition,” said North Alabama Coalition for the Homeless Executive Director Randall Stanley.

Stanley says they have not run into this issue yet, but they are concerned for the future. Stanley says homeless shelters in the winter are critical for those in need.

“Unfortunate as it is, if they’re in the homeless camps getting by in the warmer weather, that poses really a severe risk if they can’t get into a shelter this time of year from the cold,” said Stanley.

Hands Across Decatur Founder and Executive Director Sue Terrell says more shelters in the area are needed, and they have also seen a recent decrease in donations

“A lot of it I think is people are scared. People are scared to let go of that surplus income they may have had before because of COVID and now with a new type of COVID coming on, it’s the unknown all over again,” said Terrell.

Stanley says donations from the community, whether it be from individuals or from corporations, become especially important in light of these issues. On top of all of this, Stanley says he’s seen the homeless population increase.

“Increasing from people moving into the area for one, and then also just the economic stress that we’ve seen over the past couple of years,” said Stanley.

The Salvation Army says at this time, there is no way to determine a future reopening date for their shelter. Right now, their focus is their transitional housing, which gives homeless families with children temporary housing. The best way you can help the homeless population in your area during this critical time is to give donations to local organizations.

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