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Homeless population increasing during pandemic

Published: Jul. 13, 2020 at 5:53 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - The COVID-19 pandemic has forced some people out of work and the loss of income is leading some to go without a bed to sleep in.

The Chippewa Falls L.E. Phillips Career Development Center says more people in the area have become homeless since the COVID-19 pandemic was reported locally back in March.

“We’ve definitely seen an increase, I would guess about a 25% increase from the beginning of the year.” says Jennifer Barrett of the Career Development Center. “From last month even, our numbers have gone up.”

Barrett says in the month of June, 176 people were seeking help with finding somewhere to live.

“We average about 10 to 30 phone calls per day,” she says. “We’ve seen a huge increase in the need for shelter, a huge increase in the need for eviction prevention so rent assistance.”

And with the increase in people needing help, Barrett says they are out of money to help.

“Unfortunately, we are out of grant funding for those things,” she says.

Which is forcing them to turn people away.

"Right now we're referring people to shelters in other counties," Barrett says.

The Sojourner House in Eau Claire is also seeing an uptick in people needing shelter.

“We have about 55 people in shelter,” says Kyle Petras of Sojourner House. “Right now we see a growing number of homeless due to the pandemic. We get one or two people a week who have never seen a shelter before and maybe have never experienced homelessness before.”

But Barrett says the lack of affordable housing in the Chippewa Valley is one of the main contributors to homelessness.

“Finding affordable housing is a very challenging thing here, also finding landlords who are willing to work with folks who may not be prime tenants,” she says.

Sojourner house and chippewa falls career development are asking for donations to help with the increase in need.

To donate to the Chippewa Falls Career Development Center, click here.

To donate to the Sojourner House, click here.

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