Number of Homeless Families on the Rise

There are signs the economy is turning around, but not fast enough for the many Americans left homeless by the recession and the foreclosure crisis.

The government says that the number of homeless nationwide is holding steady at more than 1.5 million. But that number now includes more people who are part of homeless families - 44,000 more.

CBS News correspondent Seth Doane has the story of where one desperate family ended up.

Julie Barnes gets dressed each day in the same uniform for the same steady job at FedEx she's held for three years. What's different is what she notices on her way to work.

"You see homeless people out on the street, but it didn't connect in here," she said, putting her hand on her heart.

It connects now, because when her ex-husband lost his job Julie and her three kids lost their house - with weeks of school still to go.

"I wanted them to stay and finish the year," she said. So they ended up living in the car. The trunk became their closet.

The family kept its secret, even driving to the same bus stop each morning, but 17-year-old Miya's falling grades were starting to give them away.

"It's hard to focus on school and homework projects and everything when you don't even have a house to do homework in," Miya Barnes said.

They held on through the end of the school year, then became part of what's called a "summer surge" of homelessness.

"We were just crumbling and I had to do something and I just didn't know what to do or where to go," Julie Barnes said.

In Toledo - where Julie lives - with its 14 percent unemployment rate they've seen a 25 percent increase in requests for emergency shelter over the last year. Requests for housing at one family shelter are at an all-time high.

Tammy Holder runs the shelter - and has run out of room.

"Just today - I believe it's almost 4-o'clock - and we've already turned away almost 25 households," she said.

There was room for the Barnes' - a single room.

Still, it's called "the beach house family shelter" and it looks and sounds more like a bed and breakfast than a homeless shelter. The idea is to offer comfort to those with little left.

"I was so ashamed that I ended up there," Barnes said. "I felt so bad for my kids."

But getting into the shelter got the Barnes family into the system and in touch with resources that helped get them back out.

"I think it's important to share my story to give someone else hope - the hope that's been given to me," Barnes said.

Hope, and just last week the news they've been waiting for - a new home. A local non-profit group is subsidizing one for two years. For Julie Barnes, it's a new start.

But now it's the beach house shelter itself that needs a helping hand. With donations down, they're running out of funds and may have to close their own doors soon.
  • Seth Doane

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