Regarding the June 24 editorial, "Atlantic City's homeless/

Sensible plan," about the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority creating a new single point of entry for the homeless in the resort:

The Atlantic City Rescue Mission has been the single point of entry into homeless services since 1984. Before that, it was simply a shelter.

Atlantic City no longer has a welfare office and can do little to help and assist the homeless. The role of the mission up until last year was to serve the county as the single point of entry.

The mission was contracted by the county to provide shelter, homeless prevention and after-hours emergency response. That meant if anyone came or called for services during the day or after 5 p.m., the mission would provide the necessary sheltering or referral within its own jurisdiction. Over the course of a year this would result in the sheltering of more than 3,000 people who would receive referrals to the Atlantic County Department of Family and Community Development as well as to the service providers who were housed in the mission.

Yes, this is an admirable design that is efficient and comprehensive. Because of the diligent efforts of the human-service providers and the mission, thousands of people a year are moved out of the homeless setting and into housing, group homes, mental-health programs and long-term care facilities. The mission has always been an agent of support to Atlantic County and its citizens and has been grateful for the support it has received.

I believe if the community works together with the mission, regardless of its location, you will see the end of homelessness in Atlantic City. There has been much misinformation disseminated about the mission and the people it serves. The Press should know and support the mission and its partners in order to present an accurate picture that will give clarity to the problem and help reach a solution.



Bill Southrey is the former executive director of the Atlantic City Rescue Mission.

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