Local shelters in need of more resources as needs climb

Shreveport-Bossier, LA(KSLA)- While millions of Americans have traveled to their favorite stores this Black Friday, many others find themselves in need of food and shelter.

The very agencies dedicated to helping the poor and homeless are getting bad news on two separate fronts. Not long after hundreds and hundreds of people celebrated a warm Thanksgiving meal at the Shreveport Salvation Army, one of them recalls the emotions of being able to stay someplace warm when the mercury dipped to freezing conditions.

"I was blessed or I wouldn't be here in the shelter," said Cynthia Parham who stays at the shelter.

The need for help in Shreveport- Bossier just keeps climbing.

"Probably at least 40% over the past, from where we were five or six years ago we've seen an increase," said K.C. Kilpatrick with the Salvation Army.

According to Kilpatrick, while the demand is surging, donations are lagging. She spoke of the percentage of decline: "At least 30%. We're down probably over half especially in kettle donations."

In downtown Shreveport at the Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission, it's the very same story, where the need is up greatly while donations are down significantly."

Shelter employee Shayne Dees has been at the Rescue-Mission since summer of 2009.

"Bad choices, wrong people, wrong crowd, got me a bad situation."

But with 1-in-7 Americans now living in poverty, including a jump of four million in just the last year, layoffs have put many newcomers among the ranks of the homeless and those in need.

"There are people who have been donors that are now receiving our services," said K.C Kilpatrick.  According to her, that's changing perceptions about the homeless population.

"So, it's not like what people assume, that someone's living under the bridge or they've done things to cause their situation just the opposite and everyone, you know, can be a victim of circumstance."

Cynthia Parham says her pride led her to live in her car for two weeks before finally coming to the Salvation Army. Her advice to others is "don't be afraid to come on in."

According to the Salvation Army, there are just under 500 beds for the homeless in Shreveport- Bossier serving a metro area of nearly half a million people and they're expecting to use extra cots at the Salvation Army again over the next few days with the temperatures expected to drop again.