Local homeless to get attention from AST

Sean C. Morgan

Police Chief Jeff Lynn told an ad hoc committee on homelessness that the Linn County Adult Services Team had agreed to start meeting with Sweet Home’s homeless once every three months after he and others attended meetings in Lebanon last week.

Thursday, Dec. 20, was the homeless committee’s third meeting. With permission of the homeless, Lynn and others from the committee attended and observed two AST meetings with Lebanon homeless on Dec. 19.

“I came away impressed,” Lynn said. “It was basically a round table.”

Several groups, including faith-based organizations and agencies, attended. One homeless person at a time would sit down at the table and talk to the group. Members of the group discussed the situations, and based on the services available through organizations that are part of the AST, the group created an action plan to help the client.

“It’s a start,” Lynn said. “They’re not solving every problem that comes in front of them,” but the group is giving people a chance to help themselves.

“I was impressed with the way everybody was interacting,” Jim Corley said. The group was respectful and helpful to the homeless clients.

To access the AST resources, a homeless person or a person about to become homeless must fill out an extensive application, Dalton said.

They are referred by members of the AST and other groups helping the homeless.

The team works with the homeless to identify long- and short-term goals then develops an action plan with measurable steps toward achieving those goals.

The clients know they’re not going to these meetings for money, said Community Services Officer Gina Riley. It’s about finding help to overcome obstacles and self-improvement.

“It’s not a bunch of freebies,” Dalton said. They have to take ownership and do their own “homework.”

The client must work on the goals daily and make changes to improve his or her life. Clients are required to attend money management and better renters classes. They must comply with legal requirements, such as probation; and they must comply with the reporting requirements of involved agencies.

Members include a long list of agencies and organizations in Linn County. Among them are Albany Helping Hands; Pay It Forward; DHS Self Sufficiency; school districts, cities, police departments in Albany and Lebanon; C.H.A.N.C.E.; Adult Teen Challenge; four Linn County agencies; Signs of Victory; Jackson Street Youth Services; the Linn-Benton Housing Authority; the Council of Governments; Family Tree Relief Services; and Love, Inc.

Lynn said the Sweet Home Police Department is in the process of joining the AST.

“It’s a big list of services,” Lynn said. “They seemed eager to come this way.”

It will give Sweet Home some resources that haven’t been here, he said.

A number of the homeless don’t have the capacity to follow through, Lynn said, and the committee discussed ways to provide mentors to local homeless.

Sweet Home resident Alvin Kimble said he has personally been helping out a woman with drug addiction for a couple of years, and she’s doing well now.

They need contact and respect, he said. What has worked for him is working one person at a time building relationships with them.

“The ones we think are most hopeless, sometimes it just takes a lot of patience,” Kimble said. “They seem to be beyond hope, but they’ll always be glad to see you.”

“I think we’re in this for the long haul,” Lynn said. “It’s not a sprint.”

The committee agreed to meet again at 4 p.m. on Jan. 17 at the Sweet Home Police Department to continue planning ways to address homelessness.

Present at the meeting were Kimble, Corley, Lynn, Riley, Dalton, SHPD Chaplain Kevin Greene and School District Homeless Liaison Kristi Walker.