Homelessness could spike amid casino closures
With three casinos expected to close their doors for good over the next few weeks, the homeless population in Atlantic City could see a dramatic increase. In anticipation, the Atlantic City Rescue Mission is getting ready for what could be an onslaught of new clients.
"There is no doubt that if these casinos do close, we will see a very significant impact as thousands of people will be put out of work," said Dan Brown, president and CEO of the Atlantic City Rescue Mission. "Consider that most people are working day-to-day and week-to- week for their paycheck and then they're going to find themselves in a position, if they can even get unemployment, of collecting only 60 percent of their pay. In a very short amount of time, they're not going to be able to pay their bills as they were."
When the casinos first opened, the mission saw a 10 percent increase in the number of clients because a larger number of people from outside the city got the jobs casinos were offering. As a result, people in Atlantic City found themselves unable to get those jobs, but stayed in the city nonetheless. When funds ran dry, they went to the shelter for help.
While putting an exact figure on the number of people who may find themselves in need of services is difficult to predict, the mission is preparing. "We are storing more food, preparing the staff, preparing the facilities for the people who may not even be able to collect unemployment," Brown said.
Monetary donations are welcome along with food, clothing and volunteers. For more information or to find out how you can donate, visit www.acrescuemission.org or call 609-345-5517, extension 116.