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Homeless for the holidays

Local agencies that deal with homeless see increase in shelter requests

December 22, 2012
By Karin Elton , Marshall Independent

MARSHALL - Stuck without a roof over your head is not fun any time of year, but during Christmas it is particularly hard. And, unfortunately, local agencies that work with the homeless are reporting an increase in requests for shelter this year.

"We are certainly seeing an increase in needs now that the weather is getting colder," said Angela Larson, Western Community Action community and family support director.

Larson said she recently spoke with three people who were without a place to call home.

"One slept in a vehicle, one in a stairwell, and one in a shed," she said. "Most of them are just trying to survive until we are able to find them shelter."

The local agency that helps people find shelter, The Refuge a Fresh Start, is "quite full as usual," Larson said.

Tiffany Sillers of The Refuge provides case management services for the homeless. She said the program has a contract with a local hotel that provides housing. She had to add an extra room recently.

Most of the homeless population are working, she said.

"We help with any other resources that they may need as they come up," she said. "We meet on a daily basis or a couple times a week depending on their working schedule."

One woman with two small children agreed to talk to the Independent anonymously this week. She and her significant other have been living with the children in one room for three weeks. In a "week or two," she said, they'll have saved up money to get a place of their own.

They lost their previous residence because "we couldn't pay all the bills and got evicted," she said.

Her partner works full-time and she works part-time.

She said they will be in the hotel through the Christmas holiday.

"It's different," she said. "We can't have a tree..."

Still, she said, she's thankful for the helping hand the family has received from The Refuge.

"I'm glad that they were there to help," she said.

For more information or to make a donation, call The Refuge a Fresh Start at 828-9491.

"Christmas cookies or a warm pair of mittens would be nice gifts," Sillers said. "Just letting them know that someone is thinking of them."



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