Byrd White, Raleigh County commissioner, says he believes homeless shelters in Beckley aren’t doing enough to help the city’s homeless problem.
Carpenter’s Corner on Prince Street, serves people in need six days a week. Don Snyder, a reverend at its partnering church, First Christian Church, says the number of homeless clients they serve has recently seen a dramatic increase.
“Just the last two or three years particularly, things have just seemed to grow exponentially,” Snyder tells 59News. “The requests we have for aid, aid for utilities, food assistance, you know, what can we do to help people with housing, has just grown astronomically. I think part of it is just the overall economy.”
While Carpenter’s Corner opens its doors to the entire community, Pine Haven Homeless shelter on South Eisenhower Drive also currently serves about 150-plus people.
But White says he believes these shelters that only house and feed the homeless won’t decrease the actual homeless population in the county.
“We need to teach them to get their own food, to earn their own food, to have a job, to be productive,” White says. “I think people, when they aren’t working, when they aren’t contributing, they lose their sense of self esteem.”
I asked White what he feels could be a solution for the shelters to turn the homeless population into productive members of the county.
This was his response:
“I don’t have that answer,” White tells 59News. “I am simply saying while I do not have the answer, I know that the answer is not just continue to feed them and turn them back out into the street. That’s not the answer.”
Snyder says he and others at First Christian Church and Carpenter’s Corner work everyday to change the lives of their homeless clients for the better.
“We’re always looking at what our opportunities are and how we can manage what we do,” Snyder says. “Is it going to happen overnight, no. Is the problem going to be solved overnight, certainly not. But it’s a problem we need to address and move forward.”
Follow Joe Putrelo on Twitter @Joe_Putrelo.