Three rural counties in Wisconsin had the largest growth of homeless families and another the largest growth of chronic homelessness in the state in 2010, Schultz reports. The state received $17 million in stimulus money, which was earmarked mostly for rural areas. Jean Sewell, who works with the Southwestern Wisconsin Community Action Program, said the money helped slow the problem by buying hotel rooms, security deposits and a month's rent to "get homeless people back on track." But now, the agency is trying to stretch $50,000 it received from another federal program. Homelessness prevention programs are also losing money from county governments.
Private agencies and charities are trying to pick up the slack, such as the church-run Family Promise, part of the Interfaith Hospitality Networks that serves areas in 41 states. The program allows homeless families to live in churches for a week while volunteers cook meals, grocery shop and drive children to school. While kids are at school, parents look for jobs. Families complete the program in 70 days. (Read more) For the latest national report on homelessness, with state-by-state breakdowns, click here.