Pensacola homeless advocates seeking volunteer ‘friends’ for clients

Now that officials and attorneys have poured countless hours into stabilizing much of the city’s homeless population with established campgrounds, shelters or temporary housing, those getting back on their feet need a friend, according to a local attorney.

Homeless advocate Melissa Johnson is starting a mentor-like program with Fearless Communities Inc. and Re-Entry Alliance Pensacola that matches volunteers with someone who is either living or coming out of homelessness to check on them, drive them to appointments , encourage sobriety or hold it accountable.

“I’m not asking anyone to do anything outside of their studies, some of them just need friends,” Johnson said.

Homeless Camp:Complaints about the Graffiti Bridge homeless camp are mounting. Officials say there won’t be another I-110.

Finding a permanent home:The I-110 homeless camp is gone, but work continues to find permanent housing for former residents

Chester Hawkins rebuilds derelict bikes for residents of the new REAP homeless camp on West Blount Street on Tuesday.

For example, a 74-year-old man has just been placed in a rented apartment, but he cannot cook and could use someone to teach him or bring him easy-to-manage meals. Another person is due to be placed soon but needs reminders to do things like pay their bills.

“This will help me and my team do what we can for the people on the street,” Johnson said. “If the community would help us, we could do so much more.”

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