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Jacksonville Homeless Shelter Seeing Record Numbers Of Those Needing Help

Updated: Friday, May 30 2014, 03:53 PM CDT
JACKSONVILLE, ILL. -- As summer like heat takes hold on Central Illinois, officials at a local homeless shelter say they recently had to turn people away because there isn't enough room.

The New Directions shelter in Jacksonville has been open for 3 years, but his month has been their busiest. Officials at the shelter say they have been helping families from as far away as Chicago. The reason, is a trickle down effect from the harsh winter.

Clothes hampers line the hallways of the New Directions shelter, as early summer heat brings in more homeless people who need assistance.

"We are running at 35 and most of the time we have 8 or 9 children here," said Executive Director, Vanessa Tyus.

That amount of people is full capacity. Tyus says it's the busiest they have ever been.

"We turned two away last night we just didn't have the room," said Tyus.

Forcing the homeless back onto the streets is a rarity for the shelter.

"I don't like turning anybody away, especially if there are children. I try to make all the accommodations I can to put them in the shelter or find another avenue until another opening comes in," said Tyus.

With little space to be found, Tyus says old man winter is to blame. Colder temperatures forced some homeowners to use more money than they expected.

"Some of them had issues as far as their power bills had been turned off. The water or electricity had been turned off. When they had been able to get it back on they had already lost their houses," said Tyus.

Those situations contradict a new report by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, which says the number of homeless is down 5% in Illinois.

"Homelessness here is not down. Maybe by the state it is 5% down, but for in our community the homeless count was a little bit up," said Executive Director of Helping Hands in Springfield, Rod Lane.

Lane says those who are homeless from other cities are traveling to the capital city because of the number of shelters available and greater assistance to those in need.

"When we have a concentration of resources you can bet that individuals will follow," said Lane.

As for the 2 people they had to turn away at New Directions, they returned Thursday and New Directions staff has made room to accommodate them.

Meanwhile, Helping Hands in Springfield says they are also operating at full capacity, which is 42 beds. The Executive Director says that has been the case since winter ended.

The Executive Director at New Directions in Jacksonville says they can open an overflow shelter to provide more assistance, but first they need more volunteers.

If you can help, and to find out how you can, you can call the New Directions hotline at 217-473-0434.Jacksonville Homeless Shelter Seeing Record Numbers Of Those Needing Help

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