Recently, Pittsburg’s problems with homelessness have become readily apparent. The Progressive Lateral Aid Network (PLAN) for Pittsburg decided to begin work to help fix that on Sunday.
On Sunday, March 28, the PLAN for Pittsburg hosted “Solidarity Sunday” at Lincoln Park from 2 to 8 p.m. The outdoor event included live performances from local bands at the Lincoln Park Bandshell, food and drink provided, as well as a free store set up at Shelter #3 where people could take what they need or leave more donations for others in need. Local bands that performed included Beneath Totality, Friendly Fire, and One Fret High.
According to Shane Adcock, organizer of the event and co-founder of PLAN for Pittsburg, the event’s primary purpose was to provide food and entertainment for those affected by homelessness or other social crises.
“The real purpose: provide immediate relief to those in need,” Adcock said. “We’ve got some free food at the park. We’ve got you a hot meal and we have essential items too that people need like hygiene gear, masks, sleeping bags, and the like… The ultimate goal is to change the narrative surrounding homelessness…”
According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, there are an estimated 2,381 experiencing homelessness in the state of Kansas on any given day. In Pittsburg alone, there are even an estimated 114 homeless students and by extension their families, according to the Kansas Department of Education.
“There’s this narrative in our society that poor people are poor because they have a lack of character where they’ve done something wrong,” Adcock said. “We don’t believe that narrative.”
Adcock also said that the support via donations for events like these and other measures has been really supportive.
“The support from this community has been awesome,” Adcock said. “Every time we’ve done something in the community the support has been absolutely overwhelming. People always come out to donate… We’ve (PLAN for Pittsburg) only been an established organization for approximately two months and at this point, we’re really used to the community showing their support because they do every time…”
Adcock also said that Pittsburg’s issues with homelessness were only exacerbated by the recent cold snaps affecting the area.
“The Choices homeless shelter shut down in 2014 and since then, there’s been a lot of effort to establish some sort of shelter for people in need and… our goal is to feel that need with lateral aid,” Adcock said. “We’re working to establish something we’re calling a ‘floating shelter.’ The idea is if we can get enough facilities in Pittsburg to open their doors for us for two or three nights a month and get less than three percent of the population to volunteer for a two hour shift every week then we can establish that floating shelter. We think we’ve found a community-based mutual aid way to solve the issue. There a lot of other things we want to address but a lack of shelter is our most immediate issue, especially with tornado season coming up… The lack of shelter issue has also been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic…”