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Shelters seeing greater need

DECATUR -- Illinois' financial problems are adding to homelessness in the state.
DECATUR -- Illinois' financial problems are adding to homelessness in the state. With winter around the corner, organizations are trying to help people in the streets stay warm. WCIA-3's Alex Davis has the story.

"Now, I'm seeing more people that are living in places that are either not fit for human habitation, or you know, they're staying in a car or in an abandoned building."

Nancy Rude is helping the homeless.

"Over the years, I've seen a lot of people from place-to-place without any kind of secure or stable housing."

Rude runs the city's only day shelter. She says point-in-time estimates show there's been an 11% growth in homelessness, but the count from January 2013 is just an estimate.

"This past year has probably been, I hate to say, but it's about the worst year that I've seen it as far as the number of people that I literally see on the streets."

Rude says she doesn't see things improving anytime soon.

"Unfortunately, the problem of homelessness is not going away."

Workers at Helping Hands are seeing the same problems.

"No matter what society, there is usually homeless among us."

This homeless shelter can give as many as 50 people a warm place to sleep at night, but according to a 2011 study, as many as 14,000 people experience homelessness in Illinois each night.

"If they can't go anywhere, none of their needs can get met."

About 16% of 14,055 homeless around the state get turned away each night.

"There's people that get turned away, but they try not to turn them away if they can."

James Bodtke has stayed at the shelter four times over the past four years.

"Being here, having a place like this is beneficial."

Bodtke believes there are more people on the streets now than in years past.

"Just people having a hard time right now, when you lose your place because you can't afford it even when you're working, it's tough."

We may never have an accurate count of how many homeless are on the streets, but rest assured, there are organizations and agencies trying to curb the numbers. In 2012, the Department of Human Service's Homeless Prevention Program received nearly $15-million to assist individuals and families.

To give back, contact a shelter in your area to see what it needs. Helping Hands says the homeless can always use first aid and personal hygiene items, including toothbrushes, Chapstick and band-aids.
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