Homeless Staying Longer In Shelters

RI – A new report from the Rhode Island Emergency Food and Shelter Board finds poor families are spending more time in the state's shelters because of the lack of affordable housing.

The annual report finds children are spending record amounts of time in shelters which is an indication of the problems that families are having in finding places to live.

"We now have about the same number of people in families as we have single people and that's a change," said Eric Hirsch, an Associate Professor of Sociology at Providence College who prepared the report. "There had been many more single people in the shelters."

The report finds the total number of people seeking emergency shelter slipped in the 12 months between June 2000 and June of last year - from 4,466 to 4,421 - but the average number of nights spent in shelters by homeless men, women and children jumped to 41 from 30. About 29 percent of those staying in shelters were children.

"The year before this the average person spent about a month in the shelter," Hirsch said. "Now we're up to over 40 nights so that's the thing that's most distressing, that people seem to be getting stuck in the shelter system because they can't find permanent housing."

Hirsch spoke with WRNI's Mark Degon.