‘Homelessness on Martha’s Vineyard’: A conversation at the West Tisbury library

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On Saturday, Dec. 7, at 1 pm, the West Tisbury library will present a conversation about homelessness and housing equity on Martha’s Vineyard. According to a press release, you can discuss the volunteer-run Winter Warming Shelters, and find out how you can help. Presenters include Dorie Godfrey and Myles Goodwin, volunteers for Houses of Grace Warming Shelter; Rebecca Jamieson, director of the daytime Warming Center; Ilona Metell, MV Red Cross; and Karen Tewhey, Homeless Prevention for Duke’s County.

There is a housing crisis on Martha’s Vineyard. As in all crises, the most harmed are some of the Island’s most vulnerable members, the elderly, those with low to no income, and those with disabilities and mental health, and substance use issues. Not including the “summer shuffle” of those who lose their housing due to the end of winter rentals, Dukes County estimates that at least 100 individuals/families are faced with homelessness each year.

There is currently no year-round homeless shelter on Martha’s Vineyard. The only overnight shelter is run by Island Clergy members and volunteers, and only from Jan. 1 to March 31. This shelter, known as Houses of Grace, houses, on average, 15 to 30 people a night in churches across the island. These shelters provide bedding, toiletries, clothes, and food to those in need, whether the person is chronically homeless, out of heating fuel, or in need of a safe, warm place to spend the night for any reason.

In the daytime, there is one warming shelter that operates out of the basement of the Good Shepherd Parish in Oak Bluffs. It offers a respite from the cold for anyone who needs it during limited daytime hours, providing warm beverages and refreshments, showers, and laundry service. The warming center opens in November and closes at the end of March.

This event is free and open to all. Refreshments will be provided.