Growing Homeless Problem in Merced

February 26, 2009 10:25:55 PM PST
North Valley homeless shelters are starting to see a new wave of faces as people who recently lost their jobs are now losing their homes.Rodney Grissom is staying in a shelter for the first time in his life.

The diesel mechanic moved into the Merced Rescue Mission this week after losing his job six months ago and struggling to find a new one.

Rodney Grissom said, "You probably have about 200 people applying for the same job, and it makes it really tough for individuals to find work especially when there's no work out there to find."

The D Street Homeless Shelter is also starting to see more newly homeless people looking for a place to sleep.

Su Briggs with the Merced Co. Comm. Action Agency said, "Lots of times they're people who have just lost their jobs. I know one man was in a landscaping business and had to close. Another person was working in construction, and lost their job due to the construction shortage."

Su Briggs expects to see more new faces as the recently unemployed run out of money to pay their rent or mortgage, and outstay their welcome at family and friends' houses. But at a time when the need is growing, the shelter is losing its state funding.

"At the beginning of budget negotiations the governor blue-lined all homeless funding for homeless services throughout the state," said Briggs.

Briggs says the shelter may have to start opening three hours later and cut back on staff. She's worried about how that will impact the newly homeless.

"They don't understand where all the resources are. It's a much scarier process because they're on the streets for the first time," said Briggs.

Grissom is just hoping his first time will also be his last.

"That's what I'm trying to do is get back on my feet the best way I know how, and with God willing that will happen sooner than later," said Grissom.

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