Housing crisis victims forced into shelters

August 20, 2008 7:56:58 PM PDT
Bay Area homeless shelters say the fastest growing need is for families hit by foreclosure. The situation is compounded by renters who have been laid off or have seen their hours cut back by the sluggish economy.

There was celebration Wednesday in Redwood City. A playroom had been added to a homeless shelter where a growing number of children need a place to live.

Siddiq Shakur, his wife and three children moved in a few days ago after being evicted over a dispute with their landlord. They came with very little.

"Absolutely the clothes on my back, the clothes on the kids' back, one or two bags of toiletries and that was it," Shakur said.

Michele Jackson is executive director of Shelter Network, a non-profit that operates seven facilities in San Mateo County. The number of homeless due to foreclosure is soaring -- and estimated 700 people will need shelter this year.

"It's at least close to $4,000 these days for a family to get back into the market, and if you're homeless, and you've had to live in a motel and eat fast food, you can through it like that," Jackson said.

Fallout from the troubled economy is fueling the increase in working homeless.

"People aren't going out to eat, they're not traveling, so people in these industries are getting laid off or their hours are being cut, which in turn, effects their ability to rent in this area," Jackson said.

Shakur was working as a fitness instructor, but a family's fortune can change quickly, he said.

"You can't predict what's going to happen to a family whether they're doctors or lawyers," Shakur said. "They can be very stable at one time and then everything falls apart."

The Shelter Network's goal is rapid re-housing -- getting people back into rental housing within 90 days. Along the way, the families get skills training and money management coaching.

About one-fifth of Shelter Network's clients seek help as a result of foreclosure; that number is expected to peak right around the holidays.


Load Comments