City of Lincoln
2006 Media Releases
Mayor Coleen J. Seng today commended agencies with the Lincoln Homeless Coalition which are providing shelter, water and other services to the homeless to help them cope with the summer heat. Matt Talbot Kitchen and Outreach is coordinating efforts to collect and distribute water bottles, sunscreen and insect repellant and to provide cool places to escape the heat. Mayor Seng encouraged Lincoln residents to support the efforts by donating these items and funds or volunteering at the agencies.
“With the temperature and heat index reaching 100 degrees or more, we are seeing thousands of people across the nation who are at risk of serious medical problems as a result of heat-related illness,” said Mayor Seng. “The homeless are especially vulnerable. The latest survey shows there are at least 1,500 homeless individuals in our community. We need a community effort to make sure they are protected.”
“We’ve learned some important lessons from last year, and we are better prepared this year,” said Merry Wills, CEDARS Service Area Director. Wills is chairperson of the Lincoln Homeless Coalition, an association of agencies, faith-based organizations and human service stakeholders who deal with homelessness issues. She said agencies are sending outreach teams into the community to assist the homeless with basic and emergency needs.
The homeless population survey conducted last fall shows that 550 individuals in families with children were either homeless or living in emergency shelters or transitional housing. Another 140 individuals are living in places not meant for human habitation. Survey results are available on the City Web site at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: homeless).
“The statistics we have compiled show that the homeless population demographics contradict traditional stereotypes,” said Wills. “Our latest survey indicates that a large percentage of homeless people in Lancaster County are single white f emales who have a high school diploma and possibly some college education. They are homeless because of substance abuse or domestic violence issues.”
“It’s more than just handing out water,” said Susanne Blue, Executive Director of Matt Talbot Kitchen and Outreach. “We are providing education and reminders to the public to take care of themselves and check on their senior neighbors if they’re vulnerable to the heat.”