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Almost homeless

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Nathe struggles to maintain steady employment due to chronic health problems including complications resulting from multiple back fractures and a traumatic brain injury. “I just don’t feel like I am a good candidate to work for anyone,” she said. Nathe’s studio apartment costs $1350 per month. “I really do think of the valley as home,” she said while talking about her upcoming plans to move away. A friend offered her temporary housing, which she reluctantly accepted. “I just don’t want to be a burden,” she said. Nathe broke her hip slipping on ice on Feb. 6. Unaware that she qualified for Medicaid she went a month before receiving treatment. On March 19, Laurie receives a cat scan at Valley View Hospital preceding her upcoming surgery.

The growing almost homeless population is a dire situation in the area according to Lynn Kirchner, real-estate agent at Amore Reality and volunteer with the non-profit organization Carbondale Homeless Assistance (CHA). “The recommendation for sustainable and healthy living is one to two years’ worth of savings. The situation is that most people in our valley are (almost homeless) because they don’t have six to nine months’ worth of savings for if they lose their job or if their kid gets sick,” said Kirchner. 

Almost homelessness affects every demographic and economic class in our community. The high number of almost homeless includes people at risk of losing their home due to economic instability, lack of savings, those living in temporary housing situations, people living in their vehicle, and pet owners who chose almost homelessness because it is they only way they can stay with their animal. It also includes people living above their means who do not set aside money for emergencies.

“We also see a lot of people relocating to the area who arrive in the valley with just their dreams and little knowledge of the rental market,” said Kirchner. In Carbondale a one bedroom can cost between $900-$1500 or higher.

CHA promotes non-traditional housing such as living with roommates and will encourage people to consider alternatives to living in the valley if staying means they’re at high risk of becoming homeless.

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Kirchner will continue to work with the homeless and almost homeless. “We need financial support, and for people to educate themselves on homeless and almost homeless situations. We need community officials to work with us to come up with solutions for our towns and communities,” she said.

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