Homelessness is an ongoing issue that continues to affect many counties across the Commonwealth, including right here in Cambria County.
But what’s being done locally to help combat this problem especially as the temperature continues to drop?
We went to the only homeless shelter in Johnstown Tuesday The Martha & Mary House where the winter season typically is busier than the other months.
For the past eight and a half years, The Martha & Mary House has provided shelter, support and other services to the homeless of Cambria County.
“We kind of act as the last line of defense between homelessness and the community,”
“So if we have anybody who is experiencing eviction or experiencing any sort of complex housing disruption, we can step in and kind of act as an intermediary to help them through the process”.
The Martha & Mary House can help the homeless individuals of Cambria County in one of two ways. One, placing them in the program or two, providing consultation.
The homeless shelters occupancy permit allows for 16 guests at a time and currently, “We have 7 residents right now, we just had ten,” says Trentini, “So, we just transitioned a few out of the program, but were always taking in new applications so we may have 7 one day and then ten the next and then that may drop down to 5.”
The shelter typically sees between 200 and 300 residents per year and with the cooler temperatures coming our way Trentini adds, “Definitely adds more stress to an already stressful situation. The winter does tend to be usually twenty to thirty five percent busier than we see in the summer months”.
Trentini agrees the Martha & Mary program does meet the needs of the homeless, but believes there needs to be more service options between them and rehousing within Cambria County.
“Were the first line of defense so, these are individuals who are at their most significant and most vulnerable housing situations and then rehousing of course is almost, you know, total stability. There’s not a lot of services in between there within our area,” says Trentini, “we don’t want to grow to meet the issue, we want to expand to reduce the issue”.
Those who do get involved with the Martha & Mary House – they either are referred from a third party or they will apply over the phone or online.