By Colleen Chen, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- As unemployment numbers grow, so do the number of people heading to the shelter.
Traditionally, the shelters see single men coming for help, but in the last few months, the trend has changed significantly.
Six-year-old Hayden has lived at the City Rescue Mission for two months.
"It was three, four, five kids when we first came here and now there are like 40," Hayden's father Allen Badgley said.
There are now 77 children living in the shelter.
"We have them all the way from birth to teenager as part of that population," OKC City Mission President Tom Jones said.
The shelter's population is expected to continue growing.
"It's not just single parents anymore, single mothers, it's whole families," resident Lawrence Choate said. "Husbands, wives and their children."
Most new tenants are experiencing homelessness for the first time due to losing jobs, like Hayden's father. He was working construction in Texas before losing his job.
"People aren't building houses anymore, aren't buying" Badgley said. "That put a lot of people out of work. Me, a lot of my friends."
Until the economy picks back up, experts said shelters should brace for more children.
Because of the increase, shelters are looking for children-friendly donations, including diapers and baby food.
Donations can be dropped off at the City Rescue Mission, located at 800 West California Avenue.