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Local charities partner to help growing homeless population

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - On Tuesday, local charities held the first-ever resource fair in downtown Idaho Falls. The goal of the fair was to share knowledge and resources to aid people experiencing homelessness.

Within the last 10 years, the homeless population in Idaho has increased by 32%, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

According to local experts, many people are now homeless because they can't afford the increased cost of housing.

“Everybody is struggling to keep up with the high demand here in Idaho Falls, with rents doubling over the last couple of years," said Karen Lansing, Executive Director of Idaho Falls Habitat for Humanity. "And the cost of purchasing a home has also doubled. It's almost impossible for low and middle-income families to find housing.”

Displaced individuals and families turn to whatever sources for help they can find.

But local shelters work with limited resources and capacity.

“We have about 25 beds here at the City of Refuge and approximately 25 beds at the Ruth House," said Charles Hale, Director of Operations at the Idaho Falls Rescue. "The Women and Children's Shelter. So, and right now we're both where both of the shelters are running about 90, 95%.”

Experts expect the homeless population to increase exponentially as Idaho Falls grows.

Directors of local charities recognized the growing need in the community and decided to collaborate and pool their resources to better meet the growing homeless population.

“We've had all of the different housing providers come and meet and talk about what they're capable of doing and what their goals are moving forward to try to meet the need," Lansing said.

The event marks the community's first major effort at the partnership between different charities.

Going forward, each organization will be able to direct individuals to the organization when they need more specialized resources or assistance.

“We will come together multiple times a year in order to continue this collaboration and really this fight against homelessness in our community," said Captain John Birks of the Salvation Army. "Hopefully, we can become here, right here in Idaho Falls, a lighthouse to show others what we can do together.”

Article Topic Follows: Idaho Falls

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Seth Ratliff

Seth is a reporter for Local News 8.


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