DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) — While Decatur continues to experience rapid growth, homelessness advocates say city leaders continue to turn a blind eye to the River City’s growing homeless population.
For over a decade, Hands Across Decatur says they’ve been one of the only places for homeless people in Decatur to get the help they need.
Over the last year, the organization has seen homelessness skyrocket in the city in large numbers that include younger demographics and women who are without a place to stay and at times, no food to eat.
Sue Terrell, the non-profit’s founder, has seen the impacts of the growing homelessness in Decatur. Her organization is on track to care for more people than they did in 2022.
“Last year we took care of about 10,200 people last year and right now mid-year we’re at 7,100 people already,” Terrell told News 19.
Terrell says that housing becoming more unaffordable and years worth of waiting for affordable housing options, have contributed to Decatur’s growing homelessness.
Caring givers along with community support and at times money out of her own pocket is how they’ve been able to provide for those in need. She says it’s because city leaders have been reluctant to provide Hands Across Decatur with any sort of funding.
“Our city officials have claimed they don’t see an uptick in homeless people, other than local people in the community and some churches we don’t get any assistance,” Terrell said. “It’s a vicious circle that doesn’t stop and I don’t see it stopping anytime soon without some assistance from our city elected officials.”
Terrell says the non-profit is feeding more and more people by the day while providing them with a roof over their heads when they can.
Without Hands Across Decatur, Terrell says she’s unsure where the city’s homeless population would turn to for assistance.
“What we need from the city is to acknowledge there’s a homeless problem to provide some kind of support for Hands Across Decatur because there’s nowhere else for them to go,” Terrell said.
The organization plans to face city leaders during an upcoming council meeting scheduled for September 5th. There, they plan to highlight the growing homeless issue in hopes that this time around, city leaders will have a change of heart and consider providing funds for the non-profit.