HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -- The number of homeless families is growing. It is an issue being felt across the country and Chattanooga is not immune.
One local non-profit is stepping up trying to help those in need get on their feet. And to raise awareness and money, dozens of people spent the night out in the elements.
The non-profit, 'Family Promise of Greater Chattanooga' held its annual 'Camp Out to Stamp Out Hunger' event Saturday night.
Participants are spent the night outdoors in an 'urban campground' setting, eating at a soup kitchen, all to bring more attention to the crisis of family homelessness.
"Homelessness will become very real at 2 o'clock in the morning when it's chilly and it's dark," says Mary Ellen Galloway.
Galloway is the Executive Director of Family Promise.
"Families are the fastest growing homeless population nationally and locally," says Galloway.
She says last year the family homeless population of Chattanooga grew by 51 percent.
"Here in Chattanooga the average age of a homeless child is eight and a half years old," she says.
To raise awareness, youth groups and families are building their own homeless haven to see what it is like to spend a night on the streets.
"We're creating like a box house," says 11-year-old Taryn Bracher.
Bracher and the rest of her youth group from St. Timothy's Episcopal Church says it will be a humbling experience.
"I think it will really help me put things in perspective to know what it's really like to be like the families that we host at church," says Catherine Chimley.
All the money raised keeps the doors of Family Promise open.
"Our goal is to as quickly as possible, transition homeless families that have children and adolescence to stability," says Galloway.
The organization connects those families in need with area resources like Metropolitan Ministries and the homeless health center, as well as helping them finding affordable housing.
"We talk with landlords and we work with them to connect these families and to provide case management."
Galloway hopes the experience will spark action.
"We are all connected with one goal in mind, and that is to end homelessness," she says.
All the money raised goes to the Family Promise programs. Last year the organization raised $12,000.
To find out how you can help, go to http://www.fpchatt.com or call 423-756-3891
Newly released documents shows the Rhea County Sheriff must submit a plan to make jail improvements before the end of the month.
900 Whitehall Road
Chattanooga, TN 37405
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