Along with the need for affordable housing, Nantucket, like many other places, has a growing homelessness crisis. These individuals and families are fellow community members who, for various reasons, have found themselves without adequate shelter. For example, they may have lost a job that included housing, been evicted or are suffering from a long-term health condition, such as mental illness, substance use disorder or a physical disability.
We were reminded of this once again with the closing of two structures this week. One described as deplorable, housed 10 people. The other, a trailer on a construction site, housed two more. We know of others living in tents, cars, sheds and other spaces not meant to be used for overnight shelter. Prior to this week’s event, the Warming Place had identified at least 30 individuals who are inadequately sheltered. Now, we will add 12 more to our total.
For the past two years, the Warming Place has operated as a day shelter serving people experiencing homelessness. We provided a warm space, hot meals and vital connections to medical and mental health services. When the temperature dropped below freezing, we arranged overnight stays at a local inn. In response to the growing number of individuals experiencing homelessness, the Warming Place will be expanding our services to provide a 7-night per week overnight shelter from November 1st to April 30th.
To achieve this ambitious plan, we need your support. Providing this expanded level of service will more than triple the Warming Place’s annual budget. Together, we can make a lasting impact on the lives of Nantucket’s homeless population. Donations can be sent to The Warming Place, PO Box 3334, Nantucket, MA 02584.
Carol Benchly and Deb DuBois for The Warming Place