Fort Wayne's homeless don't have to go without during Stay-At-Home order

Many were concerned about the homeless when the Stay-At-Home orders went into effect for Indiana and Ohio. They're not receiving all the help they normally get, but local groups are working to solve that problem.

Posted: Mar 25, 2020 7:10 AM
Updated: Mar 25, 2020 10:29 AM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) -- Homelessness is a struggle all on its own, but throw in a global pandemic and even more problems arise.

How to stay clean, where the next meal is coming from, where to sleep at night.

All have become harder thanks to COVID-19.

To relieve some of that burden, Governor Holcomb’s executive order states that “individuals experiencing homelessness are exempt from this provision but are strongly urged to obtain shelter.”

Mayor Tom Henry says he recognizes the issues the homeless are facing and says his team and other community organizations are stepping up to help.

"They are trying to address it the best we can through the Associated Churches and other organizations. Other social agencies are trying to step up as well, but there’s no question it is a challenge," Henry said.

The Rescue Mission is one of those organizations stepping up.

COO Sam Hardy says things have changed around their buildings since the first COVID-19 meeting back on March 4.

Hardy explained, "We were making a lot of adjustments to ensure the safety of everyone in our building and we would be able to continue to provide the necessary services that many on the margins of our community depend on us for.”

They have moved their emergency shelter to an off-site, anonymous location, and aren’t letting program residents out of their buildings except for necessary appointments.

However, they aren’t denying those on the streets some of the services they need.

"We did eliminate our breakfast meal program, but we are still operating our lunch and our dinner service programs, but those are happening through prepared meals. Primarily bagged meals," Hardy said. "We also brought in a shower trailer and port-o-johns that are in the east parking lot here to continue to provide the best of the services that can."

So while some of the services may look different for the homeless, they don’t have to totally go without during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hardy said that if you or someone you know is struggling during the Stay-At-Home order and the COVID-19 pandemic, they're encouraged to call the local social services available and they should have someone available to provide help the best they can.

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