STAMFORD, Conn. The following is a letter from Rafael Pagan Jr., executive director for the Shelter for the Homeless, which serves people from Stamford, Greenwich, Darien and New Canaan, outlining the homelessness problem in Fairfield County. The Daily Voice accepts all letters to the editor, which can be submitted by emailing you town reporter.
To the Editor:
June is a month full of celebration the official start of summer; high school and college graduations; weddings. And recently we celebrated Fathers Day.
But for many men, there is no celebration of or with family ... because they are homeless.
It is true that we no longer see homeless men wandering along the sidewalks or huddled in doorways; nor do we have to walk around them or step over them as we make our way to work or hurry to meet friends.
But they are still here among us living in emergency shelters throughout Fairfield County.
They are men who are struggling with problems related to substance abuse or mental illness. They are men who have lost jobs, savings, families and homes during the extended recession. They are men who are underemployed and cannot afford housing in our area.
At Shelter for the Homeless, we provide these men with nutritious meals and a safe place to spend the night at our emergency shelter; we provide counseling, workforce training and job placement assistance; and we provide affordable, supportive housing.
But as the poverty rate continues to rise (to 9.4% in Fairfield County) and the costs for food and shelter continue to outpace average incomes (the cost of living in Stamford is 47.4% higher than the national average), more men will be thrust into homelessness.
So while you may not see the men who are homeless, they are still here.
And they need our help.
Rafael Pagan Jr., executive director, Shelter for the Homeless
P.S. Visit www.shelterforhomeless.com for more information about homelessness in our area and the work of Shelter for the Homeless.