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February 26, 2013

County finds more homeless this year

NORMAN — For many families, the difference between staying in a home and being homeless is a couple of paychecks or one medical emergency. That’s the reality facing many of our most vulnerable neighbors.

Officials released the homeless count this past week. There are an estimated 621 homeless individuals in the county. That’s up slightly from the 615 counted this past year.

There are also more homeless children this year. In 2012, the county reported 269 homeless children. This year’s tally put the number at 357.

Even though the economy appears to be rebounding from four years of stagnant growth and downsizing, many individuals are still playing catch-up. In a Transcript story Sunday, the director of Food and Shelter said some who are re-employed may be working fewer hours at lower wages.

Five agencies that recently received grant money funneled through the Norman City Council are hoping to change their approach. Rather than focusing on temporary shelter beds, the grants emphasize getting people into homes as soon as possible or keeping them from losing their homes.

Shelters still will be funded, but funds may be used to pay back rent or repair a car so an adult can get to a job. Uprooting families is traumatic, and it often costs more to get them into a new space than keep them in place.

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