Amount of homeless families increase in Bloomington

By Alyssa Donovan

October 14, 2013 Updated Oct 14, 2013 at 6:47 PM CDT

BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— The number of homeless people is on the rise in Bloomington and across the country.

Home sweet home ministries revealed its new Thanksgiving outreach program Monday morning, "Give Thanks."

"We are looking to share food with 15 hundred households in the Bloomington Normal area. That is triple the normal number of people that we help,” said Development manager Matt Drat.

But it's also necessary.

According to the National Alliance of Homelessness, more than 14,000 people were homeless in Illinois last year.

Drat says the number of people looking for help has significantly increased.

"Homelessness and hunger in our community are a constant issue. Our shelter here on East Oakland Avenue has been filled to capacity for a number of months and we have a very substantial waiting list,” Drat said.

Currently the shelter has a waiting list of more than 100 men, women and children and until a bed becomes available, these people make a home wherever they can.

"Families have to wait on average over a month,” said Chief Operating manager Matt Burgess.

Burgess says today it isn't just individuals that find themselves without a home, it is entire families.

"That has been the trend nationally that family homelessness has been the area that is the most on the rise,” Burgess said.

And it is most evident in the food pantries.
Last year Home Sweet Home's pantry passed out about 325 boxes of food a month.
This year they are averaging about one hundred more.

Drat says recently a lot of people using the pantry have jobs and homes but are just struggling to make ends meet.

"There are people who typically wouldn't or haven't used the food pantry services but for one reason or another find themselves in need at this moment,” Drat said.

Home Sweet Home volunteers are now trying to get ahead of the problem, reaching out to families in financial trouble or close to eviction to help them before it's too late.

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