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Number of Homeless Women, Children Increasing in NC

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RALEIGH — As it getscolder, it is hard for most of us to imagine not having a roof over our heads. But, cold nights on the street have become the reality for an increasing number of women and children in North Carolina.

When most of us think of homelessness, we think of men sitting on a park bench. But the face homelessness is changing. It can be seen through the eyes of a child and her mother.

"I've been dealing with drugs forever, it seems like," says Beverly Guthrie.

Guthrie, 32, is getting clean, and getting off the streets.

"My daughter, my three-year-old, she's my world. Without her I'm nothing and she has nothing without me. I can't be the mother I can be as long as I'm out there on drugs," she says.

The Raleigh Rescue Mission serves 36 homeless women and children.

"That has become an increasing need in Raleigh," says director Sam Foster. "Constantly, we're being bombarded with the female population, and especially the females with children."

Nancy Barbour and her husband Robert lived in their car until they came to the Raleigh Rescue Mission.

"We had times when we didn't have any food. We'd walk around town and wish we could eat something. We had no food. Just no place to lay your head," says Nancy.

Barbour says alcohol addiction and poverty led her to the streets, but the Raleigh Rescue Mission gave her back something she had lost.

"[We] Have a lot of hope for the future," she says.

The state reports that the number of homeless women in North Carolina jumped by 18 percent in 1996, and the number of homeless children grew by 33 percent.

Domestic violence, substance abuse, and unemployment are the main reasons women say they end up on the streets.

Despite the growing number of homeless women and children, there are still just a handful of beds at local shelters for women. The Raleigh Rescue Mission hopes to eventually expand its women's program.

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Amanda Lamb, Reporter
Keith Baker, Photographer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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