Group expands to break more barriers for Decatur’s homeless

News

A Decatur group is fighting homelessness and hunger in their larger building by expanding services that break the obstacles keeping people down.

Up to 50 people who are homeless or in need usually show up to grab a plate now that every Tuesday Hands Across Decatur is keeping people from going hungry. They’ve started serving lunch from 11:00a.m. to 12:00p.m.

“The need is very big,” said Volunteer Teresa Nixon. “We’ve been cooking in another soup kitchen here in Decatur and they closed down in December but we were serving 250 to 300 people, especially in the summer when the children were out of school.”

A report out this year from the financial advocacy group Prosperity Now shows 40 percent of Americans are one missed paycheck away from poverty.

“Only a paycheck or two away from being homeless,” said Brad Johnson, who used to be homeless. “I mean I never thought it would happen to me. It’s about a process of about, I would say around a year that I truly became homeless.”

Lack of access to healthcare and difficulty finding a job are barriers keeping locals from beating homelessness. Hands Across Decatur expanded this year from three rooms to a bigger building to help more people.

“This is our medical room,” Assistant Director Kennetha Watson showed WZDX News. “We’re working on getting a dentist.”

Down the hall is a computer room to help people get jobs. In the past two months they’ve helped eight people find jobs. That’s a step toward eight people less in Decatur’s homeless population.

“The one thing that I really credit this organization for is to really letting people know that the need is out there, not just in a larger city,” Johnson said.

Even those in a smaller city can get back under a roof with the help of one plate of food at a time.

The group has a free medical clinic for the homeless Wednesday morning at 9:00. Last year a friend of the founder died because he couldn’t afford medicine. She wants that problem to end for other people.

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