BY STEPHANIE CHISLEY
Salisbury’s population of 33,000 citizens has an innumerable amount of people who are homeless and cannot afford a home due to their financial status.
Some of these people also have children with them during these hard times.
Habitat for Humanity of Wicomico County Program Director Shannon Thomas stated that Wicomico County has the lowest income based on United Way’s Asset Limited, Income Constrained, and Employment (ALICE) report.
“It’s kind of shocking to see how much low income we have around,” Thomas said. “That’s why we need Habitat for Humanity.”
Not only does Habitat for Humanity help families in need, but there is also an impact within the community as well.
Thomas stated that the crime statistic has decreased 49 percent since Habitat for Humanity started building homes on Church Street since 2006.
Some people in Salisbury are not able to afford their homes, which cause a high foreclosure rate. In other cases, some people just leave the house and it becomes abandoned.
Housing and Community Development Department Director Susan Phillips shared that she makes calls to Habitat for Humanity to see if there is a potential home that can be demoed so that the city can donate it to Habitat for Humanity.
Phillips also stated that there are about 8,000 rental homes in the city of Salisbury.
“I’ve seen them have a strong sense of pride when they own property,” Phillips said. “It’s very heartwarming.”
There is also a program, Housing First, for chronically homeless people who struggle with mental illness, addiction and other reasons that hinder them from finding housing where resources such as rehabilitation are provided.
Another issue is that many children within the Salisbury community lack the proper nutrition due to poverty.
Wicomico County NAACP Youth Council President Jermichael Mitchell stated that besides lack of nutrition, there is a concerning epidemic of the use and selling of heroin.
This is another issue for children. Mitchell shared that drug dealers are giving dope to juveniles because they will not get in too much trouble for it.
“A kid is going to do whatever they have to do to make $1,000,” Mitchell said. “They tend to not care about going to school when they can make money.”
In addition, some families within the community are severely affected by the levels of poverty to the point that they do not have access to transportation.
The lack of public transportation, excluding Short Transit, is limited, and there are even boundaries to the transit.
As a temporary solution, Wheelhouse head volunteer Jeff Dean stated that his company provides bicycles for homeless advocacy organizations and for parents that do not have economic needs to purchase bicycles.
“I think it’s vital,” Dean said. “We do not see a lot of solutions regarding affordable, dependable transpiration.”
Efforts in the community, like Dean’s, continue to further the awareness of drug abuse and homelessness while sharing Habitat for Humanity’s vision in order to make the city of Salisbury a safer place.