Churches in Vancouver offer helping hand to homeless

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VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — While Portland struggles to find solutions to help the homeless get off the streets, churches in Vancouver are banding together to do their part to help.

Nonprofit Go Connect started the SafePark Program in Clark County. It allows vetted homeless men and women to use church parking lots to rest overnight.

Although it’s not a permanent solution to the homeless crisis, it gives homeless people a chance to get back on their feet.

Shannon Medlin and her boyfriend Thor have been living out of their truck since Halloween due to some tough circumstances.

“We actually spent some time at a rest stop in Vancouver for awhile, but you could only stay for 8 hours and then come back,” Medlin said.

They were struggling to find safe places to park overnight, but after doing some research, they were connected to the SafePark Program.

David Bilby, the executive director at Go Connect, said they don’t accept everyone. According to Bilby, homeless men and women go through background checks and are guided through a program that will help them find more stable housing.

“Folks in our parking lots have just seen some setbacks in their income or their health and need a little support through that, to help stabilize themselves,” Bilby said.

Five churches have signed up for the program so far. Most of the time, the churches have little to no programs with their guests — and if they do, they’re asked to leave.

Randy, a pastor in Vancouver, said his council members had some concerns, but after talking it through, they decided they wanted to help. He said it’s been a joy to play a part in helping homeless people get back on their feet.

Randy said, “They need a safe and legal place to lay their heads and since they don’t have a house and they have a car, that’s what they have right now.”

Most of the people in the program have jobs, but they just don’t make enough money for rent.

The nonprofit is looking for more church partners in Clark County because there’s now a waiting list for one of these parking spots. If your church is interested, take a look at the Go Connect’s website here for more information on how to get involved.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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