Community's help needed to help homeless with housing, skills

Posted: Monday, March 29, 2004

It is safe to say that this winter's homeless problem escalated about two-fold over last year, as I have seen this personally while working the long quiet nights at the Kenai Merit Inn, checking those in whom were brought via the Kenai Police Department or otherwise. And without us, although it has never been mentioned in the newspaper or an editorial officially, many people of the community would have went both cold and hungry.

It is pleasing to then see this Kenai Interfaith Shelter reaching out for help in assisting those in need of housing because our establishment has itself "struggled with the overwhelming nature of the issue of homelessness." From domestic disturbances to substance abuse, a majority of those who have found themselves displaced and staying at the Kenai Merit Inn have many a time "been given an inch and taken a mile" as the saying goes (instead of helping themselves).

I cannot imagine how bad it might get next winter with the slow economic growth in the immediate Kenai area already having taken its toll on the unemployed. So I plan to attend this April 8 meeting at the Soldotna City Council chambers and I further invite you, the people, of the Kenai Peninsula to write it on the calendar and make your own appearance as well and support those who need you.

We not only need to assist the needy with housing, but we also need to help teach them to be more self-confident and aware of how to improve on a situation rather than to just sit on it and let someone else foot the bill.

Please, if you find yourself bored at home waiting for this spring to finally arrive, maybe jot down some ideas and notes to bring with you to the meeting next month. This before another summer rips by again and we find ourselves hearing stories of tragedy next winter because places like the Kenai Merit Inn couldn't keep their doors of hospitality and unconditional sympathy open anymore.

Thank you for listening.

Dustin Billings, Kenai

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