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Springfield Dealing With Massive Increase In Homelessness

City of Springfield/Facebook

The state is providing support to address a homelessness crisis happening in Springfield. Community leaders in the Clark County seat say there's a sense of panic as the homeless population is now nearly seven times larger than it was at the beginning of the pandemic.Carl Ruby, a pastor with Central Christian Church in Springfield, says more than 50 people needed housing in March. That’s since grown to more than 360 people.

"You've got the declining temperatures and the rising numbers of people hitting at exactly the same time, and that's where the sense of panic is coming from," Ruby says.

The city of Springfield says there are 146 people sheltered in four hotels throughout the city. There are more than 218 people on the waitlist for help, including 94 children. Officials say there’s been a shift from mostly single people seeking housing to more families in need.

County and city leaders say they needed the state to step in with logistical support for the growing number of homeless people.

The Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio says most major cities have not reported a large influx in homelessness, making the problem in Springfield unique.

Chris Welter is an Environmental Reporter at WYSO through Report for America. In 2017, he completed the radio training program at WYSO's Eichelberger Center for Community Voices. Prior to joining the team at WYSO, he did boots-on-the-ground conservation work and policy research on land-use issues in southwest Ohio as a Miller Fellow with the Tecumseh Land Trust.