Maybe it's the cold. Certainly the recent snowfall adds to it. And perhaps it's recalling the recent holiday festivities and food that most, but not all, of us enjoyed. But we have homelessness on the mind.
A $600,000 federal grant last month will keep 88 Tri-Citians from losing their housing this year. That will be a big help for those 88 people.
At the same time, homelessness in the Tri-Cities is rising.
Judith Gidley, Community Action Committee executive director, says the waiting list for people in need of services continues to grow.
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She describes this segment of our population as the "working poor" -- always on the edge of making it to the next paycheck.
More than 600 families requested assistance in Benton County in 2009. The CAC was able to grant only 149 of those applications. We have to wonder what happened to the other 451 families.
It's a sobering reflection, without an easy answer. And we're not sure what can be done about it. Most of us don't have a spare half-million dollars.
Set that thought aside for a minute and consider the date of Jan. 28, 2010. That is the day of the statewide homeless count.
On that day, volunteers from the Mid-Columbia take a "picture" of our community. This snapshot tells us how many people were without a place to call home the night before.
Armed with that information, state and local agencies can formulate a plan to combat homelessness.
Unlike the general homelessness plight, there is something individuals can do to help. This count is conducted largely by volunteers. And those volunteers are men and women who will commit two hours of their time to survey our community, face-to-face.
Potential volunteers should call Cricket Cordova at 545-4042 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's something to consider. And you don't need a half-million dollars to help out with this effort.