Forum is held on homeless population dilemma in Kane

Photo by Ted Lutz
By: 
Ted Lutz
Staff Writer

[Caption for photo]
A public meeting to discuss the “homeless population” dilemma in Kane was held Thursday at the Kane Area Community Center. Some of the 25 to attend the forum include, left to right: Brandy Schimp, mayor of Kane; Raquel Frank, Housing and Employment Services, or HES, outreach specialist for the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) of Bradford; Jeff Kepler, superintendent of the Kane Area School District; Michelle Palmer executive director of the Kane Area Community Center; the Rev. Calvin Cook, pastor of the First United Methodist Church in Kane; Vanessa Castano, a Kane native who is the executive director of the YWCA; and Pam Wright and Bonnie Fuller, First United Methodist Church members who have volunteered to represent Kane at meetings of the McKean County Housing Coalition. Another public meeting on the homeless issue in Kane is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 28 at 10 a.m. at a site to be determined.

With no permanent home, individuals in Kane are jumping from one friend’s house to another as a “couch surfer.”
There also are Kane families who bounce around among their relatives after losing their own residence.
“This is happening way too often,” the Rev. Calvin Cook said Thursday at a public forum on the homeless dilemma in Kane.
“We know there’s a ‘homeless population’ in Kane,” Cook said. “It’s a community issue. It’s time to act.”
Cook, the pastor at the First United Methodist Church in Kane, is one of 25 to attend the meeting at the Kane Area Community Center in Uptown Kane. He served as the “convener” for what he called “a very important conversation.”
The main speakers at the hour-long forum included Vanessa Castano and Raquel Frank, both associated with the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) in Bradford.
Castano, a Wilcox resident and a 1994 graduate of Kane Area High School, is the executive director of the YWCA.
Frank is the outreach specialist for the Housing and Employment Services, or HES, at the YWCA.
McKean County has designated the YWCA as the county agency for handling homeless issues.
As Castano pointed out, the YWCA maintains a 22-bed “shelter” for homeless individuals and families.
“We’re always full,” she said. “There is a waiting list.”
Between July and December last year, the YWCA shelter served 47, she said.
Castano said most of those served are from Bradford. However, she said the YWCA is aware of homeless individuals and families in Kane and other areas of McKean County.
Castano said YWCA representatives are willing to come to Kane to hold private sessions with the “homeless.”
She said the proposed “case management” sessions in Kane might start out as a half day every other week.
No date was set for the start of the YWCA outreach work in Kane.
This program might be further explored at the next homeless forum in Kane. This public meeting is tentatively set for Thursday, Feb. 28 at 10 a.m. at a site to be determined.
Castano and Frank said representatives from Kane are encouraged to attend meetings of the McKean County Housing Coalition.
Pam Wright and Bonnie Fuller of the First United Methodist Church volunteered Thursday to attend the Housing Coalition meeting next Thursday at 11 a.m. at the Beacon Light facility in Bradford.
“Having someone from Kane at our meetings is huge,” Castano said.

For full article, check the Feb. 1, 2019 printed or e-edition of The Kane Republican

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