Helping the homeless in Huntsville, directing them to recovery agencies

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Many viewers have called, emailed and messaged WHNT News 19 regarding the homeless in our communities who don't turn to shelters and soup kitchens when the weather gets cold. They have expressed concerns about who, if anyone, reaches out to this group of people.

Fortunately, there is such an organization, the North Alabama Coalition for the Homeless (NACH).  Lineise Arnold is the Executive Director, and said there is help out there for everyone.

"Our first recommendation is always to try to utilize the shelters because we do prefer that the clients be out of the elements," Arnold said.

But, the shelters in town are not always a solution for everyone's problem.

"We understand that they have symptoms of mental illness that may be contributing to why they were banned, or some of our clients may have anxiety disorders in which the shelters may not be an appropriate place for them because of the number of people," Arnold said. "So, we know that the shelter is not always an option for everyone, but everyone that can utilize the shelters, we ask that they do. If they will not go then we try to give them information on how to avoid hypothermia, we try to make sure they have appropriate food so they have meals to eat."

If someone in need crosses your path, please direct them to NACH's office on the second floor of the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library in Huntsville.

"If they come in and they need a bus ticket to get back to their location, or if they come in and they need a bus ticket to resource appointments or doctors appointments, we will give our clients bus tickets as long as we can verify those appointments," Arnold said.

Those with NACH said not only will they provide a full assessment for that person, but they hand out blankets, scarfs, hats, gloves and sleeping bags to help them stay warm when the temperatures drop.

The Salvation Army provides an emergency shelter every day of the week that provides beds for 50 people. You must bring some form of identification and you cannot be a harm to yourself or others. Major Bret McElroy said the organization will do everything they can to help everyone they can.

The Downtown Rescue Mission has an emergency shelter for men, women and children. In order to stay in the overnight shelter, you must show a state-issued ID. Men must be 18 years old or older. Women may bring their children, but a mother is not permitted to bring a son into the Women's and Children's side if the boy is age 13 or older. If a person is barred from the mission, they can stay overnight, eat breakfast, then leave for the day. They are permitted to come back to stay overnight after they have left for the day. If a person has been banned, meaning the police have been called and a case number issued, they are not permitted to stay in the mission's emergency shelters.

Manna House, located on Memorial Parkway SW, offers food assistance to those in need. It is open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 4:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m.