LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — The National Alliance to End Homelessness reports the homeless population in the U.S. has increased 6% since 2017.

It’s a trend local homeless agencies have seen mirrored in Lansing. Both Lansing City Rescue Mission and Advent House Ministries say they’ve seen the numbers increase.

Advent House Ministries (WLNS)

For 30 years, Susan Cancro has worked to assist those facing homelessness. She is the executive director of Advent House Ministries.

“I have never seen the level of homelessness reach the level it’s right now,” she tells 6 News. “This is the worst I have seen in 30 years.”

Mark Criss, who runs the Lansing City Rescue Mission, says his agency can document the dramatic shift.

Lansing City Rescue Mission’s Women and Children’s shelter on S. Cedar. (WLNS)

“A busy night at the city rescue mission was about 40 people — so 40 men women and kids,” says Criss. “So fast forward about 15 years — a busy night was about 133 men women and kids. So the first quarter of 2023 are average was 255 men women and children.”

The nation and region coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, and dwindling rental assistance funds are two underlying pressures feeding the homelessness increase. With inflation combined with the UAW strikes, they fear the number of people facing homelessness will increase.

“Those who are losing their jobs because of the strike, who are not eligible for strike pay, are finding themselves now facing homelessness and I had a call about this yesterday,” Cancro says.

She proposes more affordable housing and incentives for landlords to rent to people with poor credit histories as solutions.

“We can’t do it alone every person who hears this needs to figure out what they can do,” says Cancro. “What can they do through their community, through their church, with their friends, through their family, what can you do to help.”

The Lansing City Rescue Mission recently obtained a rezoning on two properties on W. Kalamazoo St. to expand their sheltering services. The organization will soon launch a fundraising initiative to fund the $9 million expansion, which they hope to open in 2025.