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Ministries in Norfolk are facing challenges helping the homeless during the pandemic

Ghent Area Ministry is encouraging more people to step in and help the homeless population.

NORFOLK, Va. — COVID-19 is changing how some Hampton Roads ministries are reaching out to the homeless community. In addition, they are noticing an increase in people seeking help.  

Ghent Area Ministry is one of the organizations taking on the challenge to help the Homeless. GAM Program Director Timothy Giddens talked about their efforts.

“The sign speaks of collaborating, empowering and connecting and what that means is basically being a funnel or conduit to serve the homeless community here in the Norfolk area," said Giddens. 

Giddens said GAM offers many resources to the homeless community including clothing, food and a computer lab. 

"People can come and check on doctors' appointments, anything that is needed," said Giddens. 

Giddens said COVID-19 has created challenges. 

“The biggest thing that we’re facing with the homeless is housing," said Giddens. 

Some Norfolk churches and temples are allowing the homeless to sleep in front of their buildings, said Giddens. 

"That becomes problematic because again, you’re dealing with the need for bathroom facilities, for day-to-day things we take for granted. It becomes for some it’s an eyesore. I don’t see it as an eyesore but I do see it as an area we need to overcome," said Giddens. 

As the pandemic continues, Giddens said he reaches out to eight to nine churches on a monthly basis through Zoom. In their recent meeting, they discussed the increase of homeless staying on their front steps. 

"We're discussing options, whether it's porta-potties or whatever we can, if it’s getting another location or building where we can give them accessibility," said Giddens. 

GAM serves 40 to 50 people on a weekly basis.