Homelessness isnt an issue concentrated in the countrys largest cities.
Its a problem faced every day by hundreds of people locally, program organizers explained Thursday as they presented a new book about poverty and homelessness.
The book, Facing Homelessness in Fort Wayne, is a storytelling project designed to increase awareness of the challenges that face hundreds of local residents each day, said Corrine Rose of Indianas NewsCenter.
Rose emceed Thursdays event at the Allen County Public Library. Outside the auditorium, homelessness awareness groups and other service organizations gathered to share information with attendees.
The Facing Homelessness project is part of a larger project called The Facing Project created by JR Jamison and Kelsey Timmerman of Muncie.
The two began the project after realizing the increasing number of homeless people in Indiana. The project includes stories like the ones included in Fort Waynes edition through community presentations and writing.
Only 100 copies of the book were available Thursday, but more will be printed by the end of next week and will be shared with the community, Rose said.
Eighteen stories and poems are featured inside the 45-page book.
The pages share true-life stories as told by people living in Fort Wayne who are homeless or who have struggled to overcome homelessness, or those who have worked with the citys homeless population, Rose said. The stories were shared with volunteer writers who then submitted them to be included in the book.
Names of the men and women who shared stories have been changed to protect their identities.
During Thursdays event, five people presented some of the stories while a crowd of more than 150 listened.
One of the stories shared Thursday was written by a 32-year-old man about his experiences in trying to care for his 4-year-old daughter while dealing with homelessness.
After moving into a home deemed uninhabitable, police arrived and removed the child, placing her with the Department of Child Services.
From that day I went from being in a home and having my daughter with me at all times, to being homeless on the streets without my daughter, the man wrote. I have slept on friends floors, and outside city parks, under bridges, and in tents.
Another young woman described the challenges of finding housing for herself and her twin daughters after moving out of the house and away from her abusive husband.
Everybody has a story. Stories matter. People need to know whats going on, what people like me and my kids are going through, the 25-year-old wrote. We are real people with real stories living right here in Fort Wayne – or trying to live here, at least.