By Ted Shockley
Northampton County has seen a recent spike in the number of homeless families in crisis, and agencies designed to help don’t have the money to do so.
Northampton Director of Social Services Mozella Francis called it “an increasing number of people who are truly homeless” during a meeting Tuesday of the Northampton County Board of Supervisors.
She and Donna Sample-Smith, director of the Eastern Shore Area Agency on Aging, appealed to supervisors for emergency money to better serve the increased need.
Supervisors approved $25,000 for the agencies to provide temporary shelter for residents in crisis.They money will come from $60,000 unused by Social Services during the last fiscal year and turned over to the county.
Board Chairman Spencer Murray said that, in many instances, people who find themselves homeless in the county were employed, but had a financial setback.
“A lot of these people are working,” he said. “I want to make it absolutely clear. They hit a bump in the road for one reason or another.”
Francis said higher rents and few rentals, combined with security deposits, can push the up-front money for rentals to more than $2,000 for families.
The agencies can pay for short-term hotel stays for homeless families. In recent weeks, some families with children have been sleeping in their vehicles.
“We don’t want a community where people — where children — are sleeping in cars,” said Murray.
“Clearly we’ve got somewhat of a crisis right now,” he said.