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Local Non-Profits See Spike In Homeless Families

TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - A local non-profit is seeing a spike in homelessness and a major increase in families who need help.

Leaders of an organization in Hillsborough County, called ECHO, say other non-profits are also seeing the increase and are having a hard time keeping up with need for food and sanitary items.

"We are seeing people homeless for the very first time. And it's heartbreaking. Like women in their 70's homeless for the first time," said Eleanor Saunders, Executive Director of ECHO.

"Families that were stable at one point, like middle class, and they now fall into homelessness or they got evicted because their rent went up," said Jennifer Miguel with ECHO.

The Emergency Care Help Organization in Brandon is seeing a huge increase in the number of people and families who need help.

"We have two different outreach centers, so we were averaging eight or ten families just in the morning, would pop in. Now we are seeing double that on a daily basis," said Saunders.

Saunders says it's getting a little difficult to keep up with the demand.

"Even smaller food pantries are calling us looking for food," said Saunders.

She says it's all because of inflation, the housing market, and gas prices.

"A lot of our families are employed but when you raise someone's rent $500 overnight, they can't make it," said Saunders.

The organization provides counseling, temporary housing solutions, help finding jobs, and more. It also offers a food pantry and a thrift shop for those who need clothing.

"Food and clothing but also are working to get stable, looking for shelters. A lot of shelters are booked and they don't have any beds available," said Miguel.

Saunders says non-profits are in need of food and other donations.

"We need financial support to pay our phenomenal staff and keep the lights on. But then toiletries, which people don't always thinks about. And not travel size…family size shampoos," said Saunders.

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