With homelessness on the rise, local groups offer new solutions to make a difference

Homelessness is on the rise, and local organizations are working to come up with solutions to help.

Representatives from the Erie Downtown Partnership said part of economic development for the region includes uplifting our population’s most vulnerable.

“It’s going to be an issue no matter where you go, but the cities that tackle it the best are the ones that actively try to provide resources and connect those folks with places that can help,” said Dave Tamulonis, events and marketing manager for Erie Downtown Partnership.

In November, the downtown partnership connected small business owners with social service professionals from the Mental Health Association. Tamulonius added they plan to host more events.

“We had a great response and a lot of the business owners were really appreciative to have instruction on how to de-escalate mental health crisis and a lot of the other things they may face,” Tamulonis said.

One city councilwoman said as the homeless population continues to grow, more volunteers are needed at our local shelters.

“When I was volunteering on Saturday, fortunately, the shelter wasn’t full, but the two previous nights it was full. When we think about that- that’s our overflow shelter and that means there are no beds available for our unhoused neighbors throughout the county, which is a huge concern,” said Susannah Faulkner, Erie City councilmember.

Our Neighbors Place is Erie’s rotating overflow shelter.

Organizers from Eries United Methodist Alliance (EUMA) said they are in need of volunteers from Dec. 13-26 at the Church of the Nativity on East Front Street.

“These individuals coming to the shelter, these are grandparents, these are parents, these are children and these are people that deserve to have a safe place to go at night, and they deserve to have a home and we are trying to do that at EUMA,” said Erika DePalma, director of development and marketing at EUMA.