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Homelessness a growing problem in Mount Airy, homeless shelter looking to expand

MOUNT AIRY, N.C. – Homelessness is a growing problem, even in Mayberry.

"We turned away 413 people last year due to lack of space," said Mary Boyles, executive director of the Shepherd's House, which provides temporary housing for homeless families. "Out of the 413 turned away, 197 were children."

Boyles says the increase is due to a number of factors including the growing opioid epidemic.

"We will have that solid program and try and help those with addiction," said Boyles. "We have to face that head on, we can't turn our heads."

Their current facility has four bedrooms and two bathrooms that can hold 18 people.

Families stay for 90 days as staff, local agencies and volunteers help the families improve their education, find work and permanent housing.

"We help find people jobs and put them in employment," said Traci George with Workforce Unlimited.

George is also a volunteer and board member of the Shepherd's House, which is looking to expand on property behind their current facility.

"We are looking to expand to help more, especially the families, the children that we've had to turn away," George said.

In addition to helping more families, the expansion will allow the group to help single men and single veterans.

It will also include classroom space to educate parents, and teach children who may have fallen behind in their education.

Student volunteers from the local high schools are already working one-on-one with kids living at the Shepherd's House.

For the expansion to move forward, they need the blessings of the city and financial backing that is already underway.

"We might be just a little rural town called Mayberry," said Boyles. "But we recognize a need and we unite to make that difference."

For more information, visit The Shepherd's House on Facebook or online.