HELENA — This Wednesday at Plymouth Church, over 100 people showed up for the final discussion in a series discussing the housing crisis and unsheltered.
“It's mostly about education. You know, a lot of people don't really understand why people are unsheltered, the difficulties that they go through. And having these discussions really serves to put a human face on them,” says Reverand at Plymouth Congregational Church, Charles Wei.
Wednesday’s discussion was centered around drugs, addiction, and healthcare in relation to the homeless. Various members of the community spoke including a community healthcare worker from St. Peter’s Health, Ryan Lehman, and PureView Case Manager, Teresa Kelly-Brewer.
Kelly-Brewer works with PureView as a case manager at God’s Love. She works to help provide free healthcare to the homeless through PureView’s clinic.
“There’s all these barriers that they already have. So, having the ability to say you can go to the doctor right now. We don't, we don't judge anybody. We don't judge what they look like, their ability to pay. We want to get them their healthcare addressed so that we can start moving into the other things that we can address,” says Kelly-Brewer.
The five-part series discussion centered around the topic of homelessness and the housing crisis utilizing the book, Rough Sleepers, by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Tracy Kidder. The book dives into the real-life story of Dr. Jim O’Connell caring for the unsheltered in Boston.
Wei says that diving into these discussions requires community involvement.
“You need to get the community on board. You know, if the community is against it then nothing's gonna happen. So, we are trying to bring all these people together and the experts that really understand this so that the community understands, you know, how important this is and, you know, can kind of open their hearts and care about their neighbors,” says Wei.
Cass Mitchell, President of the Big Sky Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, attended 3 of the 5 discussions. She says that this series has created a better understanding of the struggles of homeless people and how certain services can help them.
“I’ve been attending meetings regarding homelessness for years. This series, it was organized by Charles Wei on Rough Sleepers, has allowed people to understand on a real fundamental level what it is like to be on the streets and not have resources, and what it is like to be in a system that provides resources and how much relief that brings,” says Mitchell.