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No Room for Father, Children at Durham Homeless Shelter

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DURHAM — Homeless shelters cater to men, women and children, but there is a growing need in the homeless community. Single-parent homeless families headed by fathers have no place to go.

The problem is being highlighted in Durham where a father and his four children were turned away from a shelter.

People are now reaching out to help Gene Garrett and his four children. He was turned away from Durham's Community Shelter for Hope because there are no spaces for single fathers and their families.

"In other states they help people," says Garrett. "Seems like North Carolina's the only place that doesn't have facilities for fathers."

The situation has been a wake-up call for Garrett, his children, and Durham's shelter system.

Statistics show most homeless families are headed by mothers. Maggie Lee, executive director of Durham's Community Shelter for Hope, says it was tough to turn the father away, but she has to stick to the rules.

"It's painful. It's painful to turn a father or mother away, but this man is trying. He was trying so hard and he had nowhere to go," says Lee.

The shelter has lined up an apartment for the family. Gene Garrett will work labor jobs to pay the rent. His wife, who is currently in jail, will be released soon and will be back to take care of their children.

Garrett says he will stay committed to caring for his family.

"After a while God will bless me for it. They are my kids. I just can't turn my back on my own kids," he says.

Lee says she has had to turn away eight other families headed by single fathers this year alone.

In Durham, there are no plans to build space for homeless fathers and their children.

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Mark Roberts, Reporter
Jim Young, Photographer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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