The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Mayors' report reveals more homeless families

For each family the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Denver provides a temporary home, two must turn elsewhere, says Eileen Hearty, the organization's director.

"We're definitely full all the time," Hearty says. Her organization, partially supported through ELCA domestic funds, provides three months' shelter for six to 10 families at a time.

A survey by the U.S. Conference of Mayors shows 2003 brought an increased need for emergency food and shelter in 25 cities. Requests for food assistance increased an average of 17 percent, while requests for emergency shelter rose 13 percent.

In Denver almost a third more families sought emergency shelter last year. "There's been an increase in two-parent families and single dads," Hearty says. Since many shelters are safe havens for abused women, it's often a challenge for single dads, she adds.

Hearty says homelessness in her area is partly due to a lack of affordable housing and long waiting lists for transitional and subsidized housing. "There are jobs that are being created, but these are not livable-wage jobs," she says.


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