ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — As of 2019, the homeless population in Rockford has been on the rise.
A report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development shows the city’s homeless population grew by more than 13 percent from 2018 to 2019.
Local non-profit organizations who assist people living on the streets say that number may be even higher.
Carly Rice, founder of Miss Carly’s homeless assistance center, said, “Homelessness in our community is a huge problem.”
“When HUD talks about people who are homeless, they’re talking about those who are literally homeless,” said Kay Larrick, Executive Director of Carpenter’s Place. “They’re either spending the night in a shelter, or a place not fit for human habitation.”
But, many of the people who visit Carpenter’s Place, 1149 Railroad Avenue, are “couch surfers”.
“To us, that person is homeless, because they don’t have an address of their own. And so, we’re working with them, in case management, to become stable, to become independent, and be on their own and independent in housing,” Larrick said.
Miss Carly’s helps those who may not be counted under HUD’s definition, by giving them meals.
Rice says she’s seeing more and more people knocking on her door, and now serves more than 1,400 sack lunches each week.
“Those numbers have just steadily increased since we began our outreach work,” she said. “We just can’t get enough sack lunch items. I fear having to turn someone away who’s hungry. I never want to have to do that.”
Jesse Sinclair has been a guest at Carpenter’s Place, and knows what it’s like not to have a place to stay.
“I had to be in tents and underneath bridges before, so it was a miserable state of mind,” Sinclair said.
He’s working with Carpenter’s Place to find a home of his own and wants others in his situation to know there is help available.
“Carpenter’s Place is awesome. It’s helping me change my life,” he said. “Rockford does have a lot of resources. You just have to use them.”
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