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Homeless agencies are filling up

October 27, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Agencies that help the homeless are seeing big increases in requests for assistance.The food shelves are emptying like never before. The demand for services at Burbank's Temporary Aid Center is up 60 percent in the last 18 months. New clients need more than food. They need a home.

"I would say that a good 30 percent roughly are people who had never expected to be homeless themselves and who are really struggling with it now," said Barbara Howell, Burbank's Temporary Aid Center.

Colin, who only wanted to use his first name, is homeless for the first time. He's a college graduate who sounds more like a CEO than someone looking for a place to live. Colin and his family are at the Union Rescue Mission.

"Critical mass clearly was about 3 months ago -- you know out of a job, out of a home. I have a wife and a 3-year-old daughter, and was wondering what next, where to go," said Colin.

The number of families is growing here. The Union Rescue Mission is now converting it fifth floor to hold more. It is also looking other ways to help clients who have job skills, just no job.

"Well I think we are going to have to step up our assistance to people in finding employment," said Andy Bales, Executive Director.

Carolyn Jones, a former nurse, used to volunteer at the mission. Now she's a client.

"And then I went up here. Something I never thought. I never thought I would be homeless," said Jones.

Colin lost his apartment in a foreclosure of the building. His new job is hospitality director at the Union Rescue Mission. Meantime others seek help.

According to the L.A. County of Public Social Services. In only two months, from June to August, the number of homeless families receiving public assistance increased 20 percent to 7,100. Middle class homelessness is on the rise.

"It's taking them longer to get back on their feet because of the economy. People are not hiring , they're laying off," said Howell.


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