COVID-19 makes helping homeless during cold nights harder

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BY ANDREAS BUTLER
DAYTONA TIMES

Hollie Mosley says she and her daughter slept outside Monday and Tuesday night.
ANDREAS BUTLER/DAYTONA TIMES

What a difference a day or two can make.

On December 2, Hollie Mosley and her daughter, Dorian, boarded a bus in Daytona Beach for Atlanta, after being homeless here for the past three weeks and four days. Two of those nights were out in the cold.

On December 1 afternoon, they were in good spirits while sitting in Daytona’s City Island Park.

“We thank God,” Hollie Mosley told the Daytona Times about how someone locally had bought them bus tickets. “We’re grateful. We are preparing for a rough night. A guy brings food out here. He also brought us some extra blankets.”

Churches, shelters closed

“We aren’t going to any shelters. We just try to find the best place to protect us. It’s hard with all the laws, rules and regulations,” said Dorian Mosley.

Hollie Mosley echoed, “It’s tough out here, but we do the best that we can. We don’t sleep in the park. We go find somewhere else. We could use some extra blankets.”

When temperatures drop to 40 degrees, shelters and churches open. But the coronavirus pandemic has kept many churches from not opening for the cold nights.

Temperatures in Daytona were in the upper 30s on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings.

Second time

Hollie Mosley says she had a job at a local thrift store but lost it this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“That is how we ended up here. We were living in a motel,” said Hollie. “I lost my job. Unemployment benefits ran out about three weeks ago. The hotel manager said we had to go.”

This isn’t the first time that the Mosleys were homeless. They spent more than six weeks homeless in 2018.

“This is our second time being homeless. Last time was better. People treated us better,’’ Dorian related.

During their first homeless ordeal, they spent time at Halifax Urban Ministries’ Hope Place on Wright Street.

“The first time we were able to get in the facility. We were put in transitional housing but qualified for permanent housing. The second time around I was told that my daughter is too old,” Hollie said.

Hard getting help

Getting help isn’t as easy as it seems.

“It’s hard getting anyone to help. Also, with my mental health issue I don’t always feel safe in other places like some of the shelters,” said Dorian. “We have family in other states. They have their issues as well. They don’t help us either, which is one of the reasons we are homeless.”

Mosley’s daughter, a young adult, also doesn’t get any type of income.

Hollie added, “My daughter doesn’t have Social Security. They want her to be medicated. She also had to changed doctors various times to see if she even qualifies.”

“I don’t like the medicine,” said Dorian. “It takes me out of myself too much.”

The Mosleys have also applied for public housing and Section 8.

“We have tried to get in there as well, but it is hard. There is a waiting list. I’ve been waiting, waiting and waiting. We also don’t receive any mail and have no place to get mail,” Dorian noted.

Hollie shared, “I applied but you get on the waiting list, then get bumped off while out here when they can’t find you.’’

Safe zones

Since they moved to Daytona in 2015 from Atlanta, it’s been a rough road.

“I’m just trying to take care myself and my baby girl. I don’t do drugs or alcohol. They do the homeless so wrong,” said Hollie. “It’s worse than in previous years. I worked but didn’t make enough to pay rent. Here it is, so many working poor in the same situation. The wages don’t cover rent. Daytona didn’t work out.”

The First Step Shelter, at 3889 W. International Speedway Blvd., houses 35 single adults.

The facility opened a safe zone for Monday and Tuesday just outside of the building, with a tented screened-in area with propane heaters.

“In the past, churches always sheltered people but because of COVID they don’t want to do it now. It’s the best that we can do right now,” said Victoria Fahlberg, executive director of First Step Shelter.

Housing efforts

“We’re working on increasing capacity at the shelter, but we don’t have rapid coronavirus testing. We must quarantine everyone coming into the shelter,’’ she added.

Halifax Urban Ministries (HUM) provides services for the homeless. On Monday, Nov. 30, HUM helped 13 people get to the First Step Shelter’s safe zone and assisted 23 on Tuesday, Dec. 1.

HUM also got 20 people to the Neighborhood Center at The Bridge at 421 S. Palmetto Ave. in DeLand on Tuesday.

“We were able to house some people. It’s unfortunate that the pandemic knocked out would be shelters,’’ said Donna Dooley, operations director for HUM. “We’re on the phone constantly with the county’s Emergency Management Department. We’re working on the next time.”

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