In Your Corner: Help For The Homeless

By Ryan Elijah

July 15, 2011 Updated Jul 15, 2011 at 8:20 AM EDT

It's estimated that eight thousand people are homeless in Indiana and a growing number of those are Veterans. On Tennessee Avenue in Fort Wayne, you'll find a place called the Shepherd's House, a long term rehabilitation option that caters to Veterans.

"the big problem is jobs, these Veterans have intelligence, they have backgrounds and getting them jobs is really hard", said Barb Cox, Co-Founder of the Shepherd's House.

Even after past expansions and renovations, the Shepherds House is over capacity with 41 men living in the facility and more on a waiting list. The current facility has room for 40 men. The solution, they recently purchased a former church next door, with plans to renovate it as a home for 10 more Veterans.

"they'll have their own living room and kitchen, so it will be another 10 off the street", said Cox.

Already, light fixtures and toilets have been donated, but the list of needs is long from an indoor sprinkler and smoke detector system to beds and dressers. They also need an architect to help with submitting zoning plans to the state. Barb Cox doesn't know where the money will come from to transform this building, but she prays about it often.

"anyone that wants to help with their labor, with their gifts, of course financial blessings, that would be wonderful", Cox said.

The problem of homelessness is becoming a bigger issue in Fort Wayne. One local group that caters to homeless by taking them meals said on a normal night they'll find between 15-20 individuals, mainly men, often times living under a bridge. They said at this time last year they typically saw between 10-15 men per night. That's just downtown, it's estimated that hundreds are homeless in Northeast Indiana.

For many current residents of the Shepherds house those bridges used to be their home. Thankfully, there are groups like Saints on the Streets to complement the work done by the Shepherd's House, The Rescue Mission and other organizations.

As the tough economic times continue, the homeless problem is becoming a more difficult challenge for more communities and unfortunately, more Veterans. If you'd like to help the Shepherd's House with their new renovation project you can contact them at (260)705-7642 or 424-2500. Most of their funding comes from private donations.

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