Salvation Army resource center, rehousing program assists Lee County families

Reporter: Nicole Lauren Writer: Joey Pellegrino
A man approaching a Salvation Army resource center. Credit: WINK News

A new Salvation Army resource center is trying to help those in need in Lee County. When the center first opened up in January, it only served 100 people in its first month; in the second month, close to 600.

It’s something that many people can now rely on as a place to take a shower, wash your clothes, get a hot meal, charge your phone, even just speak to someone for a few minutes in their counseling center. The timing couldn’t have been better, as the pandemic has increased the number of homeless people dramatically.

“We just had so many people lose their jobs,” said Maj. Carlyle Gargis of the Salvation Army of Lee County. “People just found themselves without a place to stay because they had no income. With the pressure that came, we saw those numbers go up around town… thank goodness we’re starting to see them start to go down.”

Gargis says the capacity at their homeless shelter has decreased to 65%, where it was completely full before. The Salvation Army believes a huge reason that number is dropping is the success of the rapid rehousing program.

This program is a team effort between many organizations, including Lee County government. It works to get families on their feet for one year and put a roof over their heads. The Salvation Army says additional funding has allowed it to place more people. When the program started, it placed around 10 families each month, and now it is placing almost one family each day.

“I think it just gives the opportunity for folks to actually step into their own home, and then they have a whole year of case management that follows them… so we’re not just putting them in a house, paying their rent and forgetting them,” Gargis said. “We continue to do follow-up, life skills, training, coaching them to get employment.”

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