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79 children now among homeless in NELA

The rising cost of living is putting more families out on the streets in Northeast Louisiana.
Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 8:47 PM CDT
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - The rising cost of living is leading to more families losing their homes in Northeast Louisiana. One resource center said they usually see more homeless families when school lets out each summer compared to the rest of the year, but this year there was a staggering increase.

In May of 2021, The Wellspring received 47 calls from first-time homeless families. In May of 2022, they had 132 calls. That’s nearly triple the number of people calling for help.

Many times it comes down to money.

“Your typical lease will say that if you can’t keep up with the electricity or the utilities, even if you paid the rent, it’s grounds for eviction,” said the Director of Homeless Services at The Wellspring, Kristie Hall.

Hall said in addition to utility bills increasing, schools being out for the summer can also leave families with nowhere to go.

“Homeless families double and triple up with other families so we believe when the kids are out of school and there are extra expenses, feeding extra people and that kind of thing, then the family that they’re living with just says it’s too much,” said Hall.

Inflation and rising gas prices are hitting families that were already living paycheck to paycheck.

“The situation now with the economy, gas, and everything else, people are finding themselves not able to pay their rent and out there on the street and they can’t get their electricity paid,” said Captain Jerry Casey with the Salvation Army of Northeast Louisiana.

Casey said over the last 90 days, they’ve been beyond their max capacity of 56 beds at the shelter. He said now they’re filling 60 to 65 days, every single night.

“It’s kinda snowballing into a real situation and we’re adjusting for it and we are just trying to help as many people as we can,” said Casey.

Snowballing from 37 people a month last year, to 125 in May of this year, and 79 of those are children. Due to the limited number of beds, a family may be sent to Wellspring.

The Wellspring gives some families hotel vouchers funded by the United Way and federal COVID money, but once the federal COVID money runs out, the vouchers will be limited.

“Family shelter is desperately needed in this area,” said Hall.

The Wellspring is looking into ways to start and fund a family shelter. Both groups need items donated to help families in need.

The Salvation Army needs paper goods like paper towels, napkins, styrofoam bowls, utensils, etc. They also need more donations at their thrift store, since the proceeds go right back into the shelter.

The Wellspring needs pillows, blankets, sheets, and non-perishable foods with easy-to-open tops. You can bring donations to either organization at any time.

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