Homelessness Awareness Forum - KULR-8 Television, Billings, MT

Homelessness Awareness Forum

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BILLINGS -

Homelessness is a growing problem in many communities including ours. For Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, Welcome Home Billings held a forum to educate the public on services for the homeless.

Homelessness affects people of all ages. Lisa Harmon with Downtown Billings Alliance talked about the Spare Change for Real Change program.

"Seven out of ten panhandlers are not really keeping their lights on or feeding their family, most goes to an unhealthy habit," said Lisa Harmon, the executive director of DBA. "I don't think giving a dollar on a corner is going to really address those. So that's really what we are trying to educate and inform the public on - constructive, right giving."

The program makes an impact through helping service organizations alleviate poverty and homelessness.

"It's not a transient population," said Kalyn Yasutake, an Americorps Vista working with the Mayor's Committee on Homelessness. "They're here. They're not going to come if we have more resources. They're already here. We need to serve them because they're a part of our community and we need to help them. I really hope that this forum allowed people to see that and see how they can specifically help."

Spare Change for Real Change also released a $12,000 grant to those agencies that help the homeless.

"I think a lot of folks just need, they don't need a hand out, they need a hand up. And they need to be lifted. So I think that it's really important and I do believe in change. I do believe in rehabilitation and so I do believe that we can be that solution."

The event also featured a resource fair, where attendees could get their questions answered by organizations that help the homeless around town. Homelessness Awareness Week ends Sunday.

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