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Agencies team up to help St. Charles homeless

Two agencies have teamed up to offer gasoline cards to the homeless in St. Charles County during the COVID-19/coronavirus outbreak.

The not-for-profit North East Community Action Corporation [NECAC] has volunteered to distribute $25 gas cards in collaboration with Coordinated Entry for homeless persons who qualify.

“Since the start of the COVID-19 health emergency, enrollments into Coordinated Entry have increased 40%,” said Todd A. Barnes, executive director of the Community Council of St. Charles County, which administers Coordinated Entry. “In a collaborative effort among area agencies including NECAC, we are working together on behalf of our neighbors experiencing homelessness.”   

“It’s not the fault of the homeless that COVID-19 came along,” said NECAC St. Charles County Service Coordinator Cheryl Clerkley. “This effort will make the job of distributing cards easier. We want to keep it moving.”

Applicants must call the essential community services line 211 and choose option five, then enter their ZIP code and leave a voice message with their contact number. Coordinated Entry staff members who are working from home will call back and do an assessment. Once approved, applicants are asked to call NECAC at (636) 272-3477. Clerkley or a staff member will make arrangements for a curbside pickup at the NECAC St. Charles County Service Center, 3400 Meadow Pointe Drive in O’Fallon.

The gas cards are funded through local donations and are especially welcome during the ongoing virus outbreak. Clerkley said many places the homeless usually go, such as libraries, stores and public buildings, are closed.

“They can’t just hang out anymore,” she said. “It’s especially hard for the homeless right now. They don’t have anywhere to go. Some people are sleeping in their cars and need to stay warm during the cold nights. They heat their cars to stay warm. In St. Charles County, you have to have a vehicle to get around.”

The NECAC St. Charles County Service Center remains open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays, but face-to-face contact is being limited to appointments that require it and doors have been locked to reduce traffic flow. Some appointments may be rescheduled. Most clients’ needs will be handled via telephone or computer.

Paperwork may be mailed, scanned and emailed or placed in drop boxes that have been placed at the service center. Clients may also log on to the agency’s website at www.necac.org or check out its Facebook page.

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