In a nation as prosperous as the United States and a county as giving as Hardin County, it is hard for some to believe that some of our neighbors are homeless and housing insecure.

Unfortunately, that is the hard reality as colder temperatures arrive and people are left out in the cold.

While some may have a roof over their heads for the evening because of the generosity of a friend or family member or programming such as Room in the Inn beginning in December, living without stable housing is a difficult lot in life.

Many of our neighbors admittedly have gotten there because of a poor choice or failed relationships. Still many others who have a steady paycheck experience an unfortunate circumstance — a costly car repair, an unexpected medical bill, a missed paycheck because of the pandemic — and it caused them to lose their home or apartment.

The homeless problem in the county — and yes, there is a homeless problem locally — is multifaceted and systemic.

Addressing it will not be a simple fix.

Many organizations have been plugging the leaking dam, but the pandemic has exacerbated the cracks.

Warm Blessings, Room in the Inn, Hardin County Schools and the government services and nonprofit organizations who work with them are constantly putting a Band-Aid on gushing wound.

Thank goodness for them.

Although services exist to help many of our homeless neighbors, they are spread out all over the county and often take months before the benefits are realized.

And if you are in a crisis, having the resources to go from agency to agency to take the necessary steps to receive assistance might be something you can’t afford a day off work to do. It’s also something you don’t have months to wait for.

It’s past time for agencies to find a way to consolidate their services and offices to help eliminate duplication and the need to travel between agencies just to get help. Easier said than do, we know.

It is time to find a way to support a full-time homeless shelter so people in crisis have one less thing to worry about.

In a county that cares so deeply about each other, which is evidenced by the generosity shown time and time again, isn’t it time we do more to help the least of us?

This editorial reflects a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.

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