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Cumberland County group proposes solution to end homelessness in its community

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CARLISLE, CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Pa. -- A group of Cumberland County neighbors is working together to make sure that everyone in the community has a place to call home.

They have a unique idea on how to help the homeless get off the streets, and find a place to live.

The grassroots group calls itself NOAH (New Options for Affordable Housing). While their mission is to help end homelessness, their goal is to inspire more people in the community to get involved.

The floors of about a dozen Carlisle churches serving as a place to sleep at night, even this borough with a small-town feel has a homeless problem.

NOAH member Dr. Jill Sunday Bartoli said "and that's not to say all the people that are in their cars, or on the streets, or in tents."

NOAH member Thelma Muldrow  said "I grew up here all my life and we never had this. I guess it's the times, we used to think of homelessness in the city."

"Homelessness is a downward spiral. Your job goes, you don't have transportation, health goes, so we want to help people be supported in as many ways as possible, so that they feel strong and independent and can get back on their own," Sunday Bartoli said.

NOAH has a unique idea on how to make that happen and get people off the streets.

"If we could get property owners, and realities to offer up just one apartment, one house that we could get to rehab, and then give back to them in better shape than they gave it to us, in a couple years, just so we could use it to get people off the floors," Sunday Bartoli said.

So far, NOAH already found one local real estate agent and landlord,  Alex Manning, to get on board and invest in its idea.

Investor Alex Manning said "being an investor, owning rental property, is more about just making some money. It's about the social contract.  I have always looked to buy buildings in working class neighborhoods, where I could provide affordable and decent housing."

"I thought homelessness was just people that kind of wanted to be that way, but I found out that it's not true. Most of the homeless people are working," Muldrow said.

Changing minds and making a difference is why members of NOAH work to spread that message throughout their community, and hope others like Manning will be inspired to give back.

"He's our noah hero, if we had more alexs, we wouldn't have a homeless problem," Sunday Bartoli said.

"One person can make a difference. One person really can make a difference, and together, we can get it done," Manning said.

NOAH is still a growing effort as the group is working on getting its 501c3 charity status so donors can give tax free donations. Monetary donations can be made here. Like most charities, people also can donate their time with NOAH here.