Local shelter helps hidden homeless population: families

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- With winter approaching, an Indianapolis shelter is making sure a hidden segment of the homeless population has a warm and safe place to stay.

Dayspring Center in downtown Indianapolis has been operating for 30 years.  Executive Director Lori Casson said the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis opened the center after one man’s death.

“A gentleman not too far from 16th and Central froze to death,” said Casson.  “So the Episcopal churches began to work with the community to house people.”

Dayspring Center now houses families.  There are enough rooms to house 14 different families on any given night.

“Homeless families are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population,” said Casson.  “They’re the hidden homeless.  You don’t see them on the corners or panhandling.”

It’s not just about a bed for sleep.  Casson recalls a mother of two children whose health led her to Dayspring Center and their resources.

“A mom who was diagnosed with lupus and who was unable to keep her job,” said Casson.  “She ran through her savings pretty quickly.”

That mother not only had a place to stay, but got the medical help she needed.

“We really strive not just to put a Band-Aid on the situation, but really find out what brought a person to Dayspring Center.”

Dayspring Center connects people with job training, financial planning help and even assistance for women escaping domestic violence.  Donations are big help to the shelter with clothing filling one room for children who arrive with their parents.  It’s those youngest lives which are really impacted by this harsh reality of no place to call home.

“They estimate that about 3,000 children are homeless in central Indiana each night,” said Casson.  “I believe that is a severe underestimation.”

Dayspring Center accepts cash donations to help the families who visit the shelter.

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