Rescue Mission sees spike in numbers of homeless people needing help

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) - Homelessness in Virginia is going down, at least according to one government agency, but non-profits in Roanoke say the same is not true for them on a local level.

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, also known as HUD, the total number of people experiencing homelessness in Virginia on a single night in January of this year fell 3.2 percent.

"The HUD report sounds good but I don't think it gives an accurate picture of homelessness," said Monica Seiler, a co-officer with the Salvation Army.

She says the city has a very coordinated effort to help the homeless population through various services.

"We are all working together collaboratively rather than in our own agencies because we are invested in ending homelessness in Roanoke longterm."

The Rescue Mission Ministries is another organization that helps people who find themselves homeless.

They saw a dip in their numbers last year through the beginning of this year, but the trend didn't last.

"In March that flipped and there's been a steady increase ever since."

Tracy Altizer is the chief development officer for the Rescue Mission.

"There are so many variables that go into it it's really hard to pinpoint exactly our numbers we just know they've increased."

Because they've seen a steady climb of people in their shelters, they've had more mouths to feed and the money fundraised through the Drumstick Dash 5k race on Thanksgiving will help with that.

The race raised more than $288,000.

"This will help us feed all of those additional bodies and we're just really grateful."

Donations and volunteers are two of the biggest ways these organizations are able to help the homeless.