Local homeless shelter seeing more kids than ever: 5 things to know

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The number of children staying at St. Vincent de Paul homeless shelters in Dayton has reached an all-time high, an analysis by reporter Cornelius Frolik found. Through the last months of 2023, the shelter averaged more than 100 kids per night.

Here are five things to know about the issue:

1. The story: Go here for the full story, including stories of those staying at the shelter, and how they are working to address this need.

2. The children: Shelter workers relay heartbreaking stories. One child has never before slept in an actual bed. Many have spent a lot of nights sleeping in sleeping bags on the ground.

3. Driving the trend: Shelter officials say there are lots of contributing factors, including the housing crisis and changing family dynamics.

“I think we’re seeing more damaged families today, with single-parent households,” said John Hunter, director of shelter ministries for St. Vincent de Paul Society, Dayton. “Single-parent households statistically are more challenged in society.”

4. The schools: Dayton Public Schools has identified more than 400 students who are homeless, which is nearly twice as many as a few years ago. But the actual count likely is higher than that because some kids and families keep this information a secret.

5. The shelter: St. Vincent de Paul’s two homeless shelters in Dayton haven’t turned anyone away due to a lack of space since December 2009. This isn’t true of many shelters across the region or state, meaning people often come to Dayton from elsewhere seeking shelter. More people than ever before turned to the shelter in January 2023, putting its capacity to the test.

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