Homelessness in Rockford is sometimes hidden, sometimes in your face, but always very real.
You don’t have to look hard to find homeless individuals in the city of Rockford. At all times you can see them sleep by the river. Other times they may approach you.
“The problem is individuals that are kind hearted and give money willy-nilly to people on the street, which does encourages people to ask for more money,” said Stanley Campbell, Executive Director of Rockford Urban Ministries.
But if we give more money or any kind of free handout, many believe the wrong message is being sent. The question is this: has Rockford become a place that helps the homeless get back on their feet or a land of opportunity for people to come from far and wide for free handouts?
For years the status quo around the country has been to provide immediate relief, offering food, shelter and medical attention, but to no avail.
“So what’s very important is to understand not so much what hasn’t worked, but to get a bead on what has worked,” said Phil Mangano, Executive Director of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.
What is working and what is encouraged at many places including Carpenters Place in Rockford, is a long-term dedication to healing not just the body, but the mind and soul as well.
“If people are coming here for a handout, they will be shown the door. If they want to come here to change their lives, they're welcome, it’s that simple,” Congressman Don Manzullo said.