Serving the homeless in southern Illinois - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Serving the homeless in southern Illinois

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HARRISBURG -- The nation's homeless population increased this year for the first time since 2010, according to data released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

While some homeless shelters around the nation are serving higher volumes of people, Mona Crim, from the Christian Community Compassion Center in Harrisburg, said it's the opposite for them.

"Its been consistent," Crim said, explaining how they serve about 275 people every year.  "If there was not a homeless shelter, then you could expect that people are sleeping outside."

Meanwhile, in Carbondale, Executive Director Patty Mullen at Good Samaritan Ministries, said they've seen a spike over the years.

"Just in the past three years, our numbers of people coming for assistance have tripled," Mullen said. “There’s a decrease in family homelessness so that’s good, the increases they're seeing are among chronic homeless people.”

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released its annual Point in Time count report, showing nearly 554,000 homeless people across the country. That's up nearly 1 percent from 2016.

Mullen said they served 357 homeless people at Good Samaritan Ministries' shelter home over the last fiscal year, including 43 veterans and 31 children.

"We turn to our community and it puts tears in our eyes how much people care," Mullen said. "They're the reason that our doors are open."

Leaders at both shelters said volunteers make all of the difference, as well as other programs they offer.

"It has been awesome to work with a community like ours that says I want to be behind you and our ministry," Mullen said.

Regardless of the stats, they both hope to see more people help those in need. 

"We've all got to do our part to help those that are less fortunate than we are," Crim said.

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