More families facing homelessness, officials say need for family shelter greatens
MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Inflation is now driving a record number of people to the brink of homelessness in the region. The Home Coalition of NELA said the number of people looking for help because of homelessness has nearly doubled from June to September. In the last 12 months, 50 percent of people seeking assistance were children.
The executive director of the Home Coalition, Sarah Johnson, said on any given day, Northeast Lousiana has an average of 150 to 200 people homeless.
“In the last 12-month period, which ended in August of this year, 50 percent of the people who we served were homeless, were children under 18 and that’s just an incredibly shocking number,” said Johnson.
With the increased cost of basic needs throughout the nation, families are left deciding between paying their rent or putting food on the table.
“Here in Northeast Louisiana, 1 in 6 people are food insecure. And every year around the holidays, we see more people coming to us and to our partner agencies for food assistance,” said the director of development at the Northeast Louisiana Foodbank, Sarah Hoffman.
Hoffman said they serve a lot of families with young children, as well as senior citizens, across the region.
“We know costs have been rising all year long, I think it’s about a ten percent increase in the cost of food and living expenses so that’s hitting everyone in the pocket but especially someone living paycheck to paycheck, that puts them in a bind,” said Hoffman.
With more families needing assistance, Johnson said there is a dire need for another shelter where families can stay with their children.
“We have a few facilities like that in our region, but the number of beds is incredibly limited. So we urgently, urgently need a family shelter capacity in our region. Until we do that, we are in a critical situation,” said Johnson.
Officials said people who are part of a family household make up nearly 73 percent of those who are homeless in NELA.
If you’re facing the loss of your housing, you can call the United Way of NELA’s Resource Line at 2-1-1 or The Wellspring’s Homeless Services office at (318) 807-6200.
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