Homeless families become a growing reality for the Ohio Valley this holiday


This Thanksgiving is isolating and the Ohio Valley is not immune to the pandemic’s harsh reality

OHIO COUNTY, W.Va. (WTRF) — Your neighbor may no longer live in the house next to you, your coworker might be searching for a place warm to stay this week. 

Project Hope’s director says 20 people have died this year already, that’s more than the group has ever seen in any year. But it’s not only the ways people think. Overdoses, yes, but also stroke and heart disease. And we’re seeing a new trend – Ohio Valley families are falling into homelessness from the pandemic, something especially painful for the holidays.  

We’re seeing more people entering into homelessness than ever before, and this includes families. So, I would say the number is probably above 200.

Crystal Bauer, Director for Project Hope

Homelessness is no longer a farfetched threat. It’s happening to our very own as Project Hope mainly sees faces that grew up here in the Ohio Valley.  

Medical expenses too high to pay so you sell the house, your job gone from a business that couldn’t survive the shutdown.  

Unfortunately, I think we’re going to see a lot more this year. I think that because of the pandemic, because of the economic decline, we have homeless individuals who work, who have worked in the food industry which has obviously been hard-hit by the pandemic… who are now jobless.

Crystal Bauer, Director for Project Hope

Remembering family members lost, or the gifts you wish you could buy others… The holidays are especially rough this year. 

They’re homeless, we’re approaching the holidays and they just want to get past that. 

Crystal Bauer, Director for Project Hope

And as cold as this pandemic has been to some, it’s about to get colder.  

Living in a tent isn’t cozy. This time of year sickness sets in. Being a beacon of hope in the winter, the project gives out flu shots, hand warmers, emergency blankets, mittens, hats, cough drops… And especially just a warm hand to hold. 

And people are grasping on… In Ohio County, they continue to treat upwards of 40 people every Friday. 

We’re going to see people that have the flu. We’re going to see people that have respiratory problems. We’re going to see bronchitis, pneumonia.

Crystal Bauer, Director for Project Hope

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