Most of the 20 or so homeless people collected under I-83 on Nov. 13 and deposited in a (very modest) Knights Inn are doing better now, according to several of them. The city has them on track to get subsidized housing vouchers.
"Last night I filled out a bunch of packets," says Mike Engleman, who had been living outside. "I had to get more information for them, I guess. I have to prove I have no income, so that should be easy."
Engleman says the city gave the group bus passes for the first week, but not afterward. The group is fed at the hotel, which is in the far northwest of the city on Security Boulevard, he says in a phone interview on Tuesday evening. "I don't care about the bus thing, I can get that myself."
"The first couple of weeks they weren't doing anything with us," says Ashley Escobar, who was camped under the highway before the city's Department of Social Services moved her. But then an organization called People Encouraging People came and helped her and the others get the paperwork they need in order to qualify for state services, she says. "I got my birth certificate, I'm getting my Social Security card," she says. The application for a Section 8 housing voucher is filled out.
Originally the group's stay in the hotel was limited to a month. But yesterday they got word of an extension until Dec. 27, Escobar says. Engleman says the same, as does his friend, John, who asked us not to print his last name.
The plan is to get permanent housing before then.
"Hopefully, we'll get our Section 8 and they'll give us a list of five places," Escobar says, adding that a few of the people brought here in November got "kicked out."
City Paper asked the mayor's spokesman to fill us in on the administration's plans. We did not hear back from him.