Social media post about elderly, homeless woman causes outrage in Coos Bay

COOS BAY, Ore. — A Facebook post is met with outrage from concerned citizens in Coos County, after it claims an elderly woman in a wheelchair was dropped off at a homeless camp with no supplies.

It says the 70-year-old was dropped off by the Devereux Center, a non-profit that helps the homeless. Executive Director Tara Johnson says that’s not the whole story.

“We were accused of doing absolutely nothing and just dumping her there. We would never ever do that. Never,” Johnson said.

Johnson says the center had been working with the 70-year-old, named Georgette, for weeks to get her back on her feet. When she showed up after hours, they had nowhere to house her overnight.

“We sent her to this church parking lot, that has, they call it tent city,” Johnson said.

Johnson says they left Georgette in good hands with a cot, and anything else she may need.

“Helped her get set up, helped her get a wheel chair, you know, we did everything that we could to help her. Made sure that she was connected with people that we knew were trustworthy at the camp,” Johnson said.

The next week, they worked with Georgette to find her a more suitable living situation. According to a gofundme page for Georgette, she became homeless after being scammed out of her social security money, losing her husband and then her apartment.

“I wish that we could say the homeless population is shrinking, but right now it is not,” Johnson said.

Johnson says Georgette isn’t the only person in Coos County struggling. She estimates Coos County has about 1,400 homeless people, with around 800 to 900 in the Coos Bay area alone.

“I can’t spend three hundred dollars for one lady have a hotel room for three nights when I have 80 people that need lunch and 50 people that need breakfast,” Johnson said.

While she says some don’t agree with the center for placing Georgette temporarily in a homeless camp, their hands were tied.

“When we’re investing our heart and soul into helping people and then community members think we’re not doing anything, it’s like, come, volunteer, help us,” Johnson said.

As for Georgette, she is fed, housed and working with the Devereux Center to find a more permanent situation. There is a gofundme for Georgette to help her get back on her feet, organized by the family she is currently staying with. Find the page here.

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Anna Weeks
Anna Weeks is the anchor of NBC5 News at 5 and 11 and Your Place @7 with Anna Weeks. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Oregon State University with a degree in Digital Communication Arts and a minor in writing. Previously, she interned with the National Association of Broadcasters at the NAB Show in Las Vegas. Originally from the Portland area, Anna loves exploring Southern Oregon. In her free time, she enjoys reading, running, and watching sports.
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