Wallkill police officer's kind gesture to the homeless highlights need for additional servicesPosted: Updated:
One small gesture from a Hudson Valley police officer is illuminating the need for more resources for the homeless.
Pictures of Wallkill police officer Julia Ashworth giving out food and clothes to a homeless person have made the rounds online. But the photos have also brought attention to a larger concern in Orange County and statewide.
"Nobody wakes up in the morning and says 'I want to be homeless' but happenstance happens and we're here with everyone else in Orange County to lift people up," says Gary Texter, the outreach director at Honor Homeless Shelter in Middletown.
Last year, Honor helped nearly 800 people in need of housing through three shelter programs. But around 500 people are on the streets of the county on any given night, according to a 2019 count.
"We're collaborating with so many community resources. We're getting folks into permanent housing. What I have seen, there is a higher trend in the families that have been residing here," says Honor Residential Services Director Shantel Hayes.