Man camping on green shows complexity of homeless situation

To the Editor:
As we continue to support and address the increase in the needs of those experiencing homelessness and hunger in our community, realized by the stark images of encampments more public than every before, we continue to be grateful for the empathy, dignity and respect shown to our most vulnerable community members by the Milford community at large.
The “Man on the Green,” as described in the May 8 article, shows the complexity of this work. Rapid and comprehensive community response addressed an individual paralyzed by needs greater than he can solve independently. We know that there is not one universal answer, those we serve are diverse, much like all of us.
This difficult position necessitates the charge of the Milford Homeless Outreach Workgroup, a multi-disciplinary team working to identify and implement strategies to reduce the unsheltered homeless population through direct service, data coordination and community education. Much of our work is to improve and enhance the coordination of our systems and is directly felt by the vulnerable individuals we serve.
You might have seen some of our efforts already, including early morning Outreach and Engagement efforts and ‘Be Homeful’ workshops in the Milford Public Library. It is because of this workgroup, that the “Man on the Green” had many visitors during his stay; including but not limited to the Milford Police Department, the Beth-El Center Outreach and Engagement staff, Columbus House support staff and Bridges Mobile Crisis staff.
In addition, information and updates were provided to the workgroup at large, in the event that additional supports were needed. Workgroup partners include the City of Milford, Milford Health and Human Services, Milford Public Schools, Bridges Healthcare, Milford Public Library, Milford Prevention Council, Cornerstone Christian Center, New Reach Inc., Salvation Army and the list continues to grow.
Additionally, generous donations from compassionate donors have allowed the Beth-El Center to launch a new Outreach and Engagement program as of January 2019. Those who are experiencing homelessness and who require assistance navigating the shelter and/or housing systems, can visit our coordinator in the Milford Public Library from 10 a.m. to noon on Mondays and Thursdays or contact the center at any time for an appointment. This response is the beginning to growing resources and systemic change.
There continues to be a piece of this work for everyone to hold. Beth-El Center and the Milford Homeless Outreach Workgroup are able to impact greater change with your involvement. If you are in need of information to provide someone who you believe to be experiencing homelessness, you can refer them to 2-1-1, our statewide social service information hotline or to our coordinator at the Milford Public Library. If you want to assist in larger ways, reach out to Beth-El Center, or additional partners in the Milford Homeless Workgroup.
Jennifer Paradis
Executive Director, Beth-El Center, Inc.
Milford Homeless Outreach Workgroup, Co-Chair