A St. Charles non-profit is seeing a dramatic uptick in the number of homeless in need of shelter.
Liz Eakins, executive director of Lazarus House, recently sent out a notice as part of Larzarus’ regular newsletter saying there was a nearly 100 percent increase in the number of children staying there this October as compared to 2010. In September, she reported a 44 percent increase over the same time last year.
Many low-income families were relying a grants issued to Lazarus House that helped supplement housing and utility costs, Eakins said.
“That money is all going away now,” she said.
Toward the end of 2009, Lazarus House began administrating a $450,000 Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Lazarus also is using an Illinois grant, which has allowed non-profit to subsidize rent for 38 low-income families, Eakins said. The state grant, which began in 2006, is now in its last year.
These grant monies are quickly drying up and many of the at-risk families have had to find alternative assistance or stay at the shelter. As Eakins puts it, Lazarus represents the “end of the road."
“What I believe is that people who have been hanging on by their fingernails for the last three years," Eakins said. "Those fingernails are breaking.”
More than half of unemployed people no longer receive benefits, according to a report from the Huffington Post.
Last year, three-quarters of unemployed workers_ were able to get benefits. According to the November report, 48 percent have seen unemployment insurance run out. About one-third of the unemployed have been out of work for more than one year.
For Lazarus House, the hardest-hit groups are woman and children, with the rest of their guests being men.
In June 2010 to this past June, the number of people served at the shelter averaged about 56 a night. By September, that number grew to 75 people a day.
“This is exceptional and a trend that is staying high,” Eakins said.
Annual Thanksgiving dinner coming soon
Members of the community are invited to attend Lazarus House's annual , which will run from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day at the Tri-Cities Salvation Army, 1710 S. 7th Ave., St. Charles. The feast begins at noon.
Those who wish to register for the event can call 630-587-2144.