Burlington organization increases hours of operation to help homeless people

A Burlington nonprofit that helps a growing homeless population is gearing up to expand to help homeless children and provide 24-hour service.

Transitions DMC, for Divine Mercy of Christ, offers showers, laundry services, and food, but no beds. Executive Director Sara Dittner said the Burlington School District has documented up to 200 children who did not have regular and adequate night time residences.

“Homelessness has been a growing problem in our community for a long time now,” says Dittner. “For a community the size of Burlington, 200 children documented as homeless is a staggering statistic.” Dittner, the only paid employee, works as a case manager, helping around 100 homeless people a year find hotel accommodation, get IDs, social security cards and a place to get treatment. mail so they can find a job.

She also helps people cope with the intimidating paperwork to secure permanent housing. Dittner says, “If you have nowhere to rest at night, an application that can be 20 pages, 60 pages – and that’s the length of some applications – it’s a nearly impossible task to accomplish.”

Transitions is currently operating as a day warming shelter and resource center, with the goal of becoming a 24 hour shelter this year. Dittner says Transitions is asking city and county governments for financial help to develop. Plus, opening the refuge overnight will give Dittner some peace of mind.

“Personally, it’s really hard for me to leave here every day and lock the doors behind me knowing that I have at least six people who were in my building today who are going to sleep somewhere. out tonight, ”she said.

Homelessness is further complicated by the pandemic, and Dittner says major issues include lack of affordable housing and lack of access to mental health care. Transitions is currently funded entirely by grants and donations.

(By Jane Carlson, Tri States Public Radio)

Aubrey L. Morgan