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Image courtesy of tony717 via Flickr.

Number of Families in Shelters Rises Nationwide  

The New York Times reports that from 2007 to 2009, the number of families in homeless shelters, households with at least one adult and one minor child, jumped to 170,000, up from 131,000, according to numbers from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  

Figures for 2010 may show signs of slight improvement, however. At the end of last year, states began distributing $1.5 billion that has been made available over three years by the federal government as part of the stimulus package for the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program. Nationwide, more than 550,000 people have received aid as part of this program. But some worry that the program is too bogged down to keep pace with a continually sluggish economy.  

Homeless Advocates Collect Supplies for Homeless  

The Fairfax-Falls Church Community partnership, which represents numerous homeless advocacy groups, partnered with Target to collect more than 500 baskets full of supplies to send to families and people without homes, the Washington Post reports.  

Baskets were filled with cleaning supplies, hygiene products and other household necessities. They were then donated to clients of the various organizations.  

“This event with Target is an example of how we’ve had many seasoned organizations in our community for a while, but we’ve never worked together in the way that we’re starting to work as partners between government, faith and business,” said Dean Klein to The Washington Post, director of the Fairfax County Office to Prevent and End Homelessness.  

Ireland Hit with High Homeless Numbers, Too  

The Irish Independent reports that the nation’s recession is to blame for the roughly 5,000 homeless men and women living on the streets there. Comparatively, there were 2,700 people living on the streets in 1991. There are about another 100,000 individuals on social housing waiting lists, up from 56,000 in 2008.  

Ireland’s government has set a deadline at the end of the year for eliminating long-term homelessness, a goal that is looking increasingly difficult to reach.  

MTV Show Delves into the Lives of the Homeless  

Documentary filmmaker Andrew Jenks, 24, is immersing himself in the lives of 12 different individuals as part of his new MTV show “World of Jenks.” His explorations include living the life of a homeless woman, TVGuide.com reports. According to his interview, the hardest part of filming his documentary-style show was living on the streets.  

From the interview: “That was brutal. When you’re on the streets and you’ve had a tough day and you can’t find food, people might be yelling at you or calling you names. Most people who have a bad day can go to their rooms or apartment at night. When you’re homeless, you’re back to the woods or back to a street corner and at any point someone can wake you up, a cop, a robber, a rapist, it doesn’t matter. That was by far the most outlandish lifestyle I followed.”  

The show airs Mondays on MTV.  

‘Homeless Meters’ to be Installed in Downtown Orlando  

City leaders in Orlando, Fla., hope that people who want to help the homeless will toss change into old parking meters instead of a panhandler’s cup, WDBO reports.  

The city will install 15 “homeless meters,” where people can donate change to help the homeless.  

Executive Director of the Downtown Development Board Thomas Chatmon told WDBO that the meters give people an alternative to the sometimes-aggressive panhandlers in downtown Orlando.  

“Those meters offer a very passive, secure, convenient way for pedestrians in downtown to donate if they wanted to help eradicate homelessness,” Chatmon said.  

The total cost of the program should be no more than $10,000 and the money raised there will be given to a charity that helps the homeless.  

Project Back to School Gives Supplies to Homeless Students  

As school is starting, there are record numbers of homeless children who are in need of school supplies. Organizations across the country are banding together to make sure these kids have what they need to succeed in school. Homeless kids are twice as likely to end up in special education classes due to the lack of stability in their lives, and Project: Back to School is doing what they can to put these kids ahead of the curve. They aim to make 3,000 backpacks full of school supplies for homeless children, double their output last year, so these kids can start the year off on track and have the same resources as every other student.  

Compiled by Dianna Heitz, from previously published reports.