by Glenn Tolbert
In Garrett County they’re known as “the hidden homeless.”
You don’t see them pushing shopping carts filled with possessions, or holding out signs requesting money or a place to sleep. But the homeless are very much here.
They’re temporarily staying with friends or relatives who want them out of the house. Or they’re the victims of domestic abuse who may literally be fleeing for their lives.
Ask Carrie Getson about the homeless in Garrett County. As senior case manager for Garrett County Community Action’s (GCCAC), she has aided 515 persons this year living in 149 households. The assistance can be anything and everything from the first month’s rent to security deposits, eviction prevention, and utility shutoffs.
How do people in this area, where the long, brutal winters make it impossible to live on the streets, get to be homeless?
“Many have burned their bridges with family members,” Getson says. “They may have also had rocky relationships with previous employers and landlords. This makes it very difficult for them to get into housing that they can afford.”
Getson points out that while there is money available to the homeless population to help initially get them into housing, ongoing assistance has a waiting list of several years.
“Currently, we have funding to provide one night’s shelter in three motels in the county,” she says. “This really doesn’t help the situation too much.”