Several community organizations requested Monday that Milford city council appoint a task force charged with addressing homelessness. Deacon Dorothy Vuono Program Director of the non-profit civic organization Circle of Light said that the homeless population in Milford isonly getting larger and that the problem needs to be addressed.
“We are looking for the town to be part of figuring out how to correct the homeless problem,” Vuono said. “With the task force we are hoping to get the town council and prominent members of the community to sit down and work out solutions.”
Vuono cited Laurel as an example of what could work in Milford. She said Laurel raised money to build a facility for the Hope House organization to give people a place to go while they get back on their feet. She also expressed the hope that a Milford task force could help organize public action.
“The public is interested in helping, we just need to have someone to tell them how they can help and we feel that’s what it’s important for the task force to do.” Vuono said.
Craig Warrington, the homeless liaison for the Milford School District, said 141 public school students in Milford are considered homeless. A student is deemed homeless, he said, when they live in transitional housing such as a shelter or a motel, if they are a foster child or if their family is living with another family member or a friend.
“We support these folks as best we can through supplies like hygiene, blankets and uniforms,” Warrington said. “A lot of that money comes from local groups like ministry groups and businesses.”
The school district also works students to ensure that they are able to stay enrolled in their school, regardless of whether their family is forced to relocate due to their transient housing situation.
Vurono said transportation also poses a problem in the homeless population as a whole, because bus service in Milford is limited.
Vurono and Warrington bot said the homeless population in Milford has grown in recent years.
“The numbers aren’t going down.” Warrington said. “Unless our economy does something miraculous over the next few years, this isn’t going away.”
Several council members said they would support the creation of a task force on homelessness.
“We should get on this tomorrow,” Councilman James Starling Sr. said. “If we put something off until next meeting then we’ll be getting right into February and that’s when the coldest time is.”
Councilwoman Katrina Wilson agreed.
Page 2 of 2 - ”I’m praying that this is the beginning of an open conversation and of trying to get as much support as we possibly can from the city to help our citizens and our children.”
Mayor Joseph "Ronnie" Rogers indicated that council could act on the task force request at a later date.
“I’m sure the city will support participating in a task force of some kind,” said Rogers “I would like to present it to the council and we can decide to what degree we can participate in assisting getting this off the ground.”