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Can you help the homeless?

Published: Sat, October 11, 2008 @ 11:18 p.m.

NEW CASTLE, Pa. — It can happen after someone gets behind in rent, gets out of prison to a cold reception from family, or gets sick and can’t work.

If you analyzed every homeless person’s situation, you might discover that there are as many reasons for being homeless as there are homeless people.

Many of them end up on the streets, long or short term, and that can be a dangerous, hard life. But in New Castle, there are people who are working to make that life easier.

At Patches Place, they’ve heard a lot of reasons for homelessness. That’s because 90 of their 221 clients are either on the streets — they estimate about 60 — or going from couch to couch with whomever will take them in.

Patches Place, which opened in September 2007, is a drop-in center and an umbrella organization for three programs that serve mentally ill clients, not homeless people. But, as Sandi Hause, director of one of those programs, points out, many mentally ill people are homeless as well.

“We never thought homelessness would be part of our problem,” Hause said. “But when the cold came, the staff would leave to go home and there would be all these people out front: ‘I’m gonna sleep under a bridge,’ ‘I’m gonna sleep behind the bushes at Eat ’n Park’ ...”

So Hause, her son Charlie, daughter Angela Hagberg, ex-daughter-in-law Vickie Thompson, and Dennis Robbins, who met Charlie Hause in a local newspaper’s online forum, formed the Lawrence County Homeless Coalition.

As the winter approaches, they’re taking donations of bedding, tents, rope and other items that will help people who are going to sleep outside.

For the full story, see Sunday's Vindicator or Vindy.com.

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