Local shelters feel the economic crunch

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Directors at the Salvation Army Shelter in Montgomery say this is usually their slow season, but not this year.

They're seeing families with children and no place to go more frequently.

"We had an apartment, and my husband's job shut down," says Crystal Lanon.

William and Crystal Lanon and their two children came to Montgomery from Augusta, Georgia after William lost his job.

"We got on a Greyhound with three bags of clothes, my mom paid for the tickets for us to get here and we had maybe $30 cash."

The family has been homeless for 74 days, staying there at night and scouring the city for work during the day.

"Everyday you got to deal with the situation, but you just can't quit," says William.

"We've been doing pretty well about getting people placed back in to permanent housing," says Salvation Army Major Steve Justice.

But operating the center isn't cheap.

"Our budget was already tight without the economy, without people needing this extra assistance."

He says funding has dropped significantly.  One reason?

"We're seeing clients come to us for help that have donated to us in the past."

But despite the money crunch, the Lanon's story is exactly what the shelter's all about.

William now has a job, and "we've recently found us a two-bedroom house, with a nice backyard for our kids," adds Crystal.

And there's only one thing to say.

"Yaaaay!" she says.

Folks at the Friendship Mission say they get calls for permanent housing everyday. They have noticed an increase in unemployed clients over the last two months.

Major Justice says he's seeing a much younger population in the shelter than he's ever seen before. Many are 20 and 30 year old women as opposed to 50 and 60 year old men.

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