Valley homeless population up 370% from last year

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Homeless population dramatically up

PHOENIX - Nearly 3,000 people in the Valley are sleeping on the streets.

The dire economy has put a totally new face on homelessness. It is on the rise, up 20% in Maricopa County and many of them are people more accustomed to a salary and benefits.

Many of them are families who have lost their jobs, spent their savings trying to save their home and now find themselves homeless.

Carol Thompson, a homeless single mom, tells 3TV, "I had a house then I lost my job." Thompson's story is becoming all too familiar, another hard-working person struggling to survive this tough economy. She says, "One thing led to another, the bills piled up and I was asked to leave. That's how I ended up homeless."

This single mom was forced to swallow her pride and accept help from U-mom, a local organization now inundated with hundreds of homeless families looking for help. In fact, the number of homeless families in Maricopa County has jumped 370% since 2008.

Darlene Newsom, with U-mom New Day Centers, says, "We're serving right now only 10% of the families referred to us." Many of them were formerly middle class homeowners and nearly all share the same story.

Downtown at Cass, George has been there before but quickly got back on his feet. He tells 3TV, "I got a jobI was working saving money." He got his own place but then got laid off and now finds himself homeless again. George admits, "It's miserable to sit home and wonder what to do now." Now George is on his way to getting back on his feet while Thompson also works and saves, thanks to U-mom. She admits, "They've helped me find employment and so I'm on track to get my life back together."

She has been spending free time on the computer looking for an apartment and refusing to let this ruthless economy win. She says, " I want my own place."

Now it is not only people, but the charities too that are falling on tough times.

They have never been more needed yet their funding continues to be cut and donations are dwindling.

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