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The Star of Hope Women and Family Center can house 256 people. But so many are showing up for help that all the rooms and beds are full, leaving as many as 100 more sleeping on pallets on the floor. Star of Hope President Hank Rush says it's not the chronically homeless who are showing up, but rather people who have hit hard times.
"These folks are in the bottom of the economic tier and job tier anyway, so the economy has affected them. We're hearing them tell stories like they've been staying with a family member or friend until school was out, living on the -- sleeping on the floor in their living room but they had to leave in June because the family couldn't continue that. So they're just lost their ability to have independent housing."
Rush says their goal is not to turn anyone away. But the shelter is facing a $700,000 shortfall because donations
are down and more people are in need.
"Everybody wants to help at Thanksgiving and Christmas and it's a wonderful time of year and cool weather, great holidays and fun things to do and we cherish all that support. But summer is really our biggest time of year because when the temperature goes up, our donations go down and yet we have hundreds of kids with us -- children in these families -- who are here all summer-long because school is out and we have all the needs of them 24 hours a day rather than them being in school."
Rush says even after Hurricane Katrina, the average overflow was 30-60 people. This month overflow is right around 100.