FAIRMONT, W.Va. – Among all U.S. states, West Virginia has the 7th lowest rate of homelessness.

There are 7.8 homeless people for every 10,000 residents across the mountain state. Between 2017 and 2019, the rate of homelessness was low, but with the pandemic and an increase of job loss and increasing home prices, those numbers have spiked again.

Homeless shelters throughout West Virginia, including the Union Mission of Fairmont, pride themselves in ensuring that they not only find people four walls to live in but ensure they will stay there long term.

“We’ve had this issue for a long time. If the solution was as simple as housing…we could just go build houses. If a person is homeless, there’s a reason for that homelessness. The reason is tied to their thinking process, so you need to change their thinking. However, our goal is to bring a person to a place where they save three thousand dollars towards leaving here, so they can pay rent, and be well off for a little while.”

George Batten, Executive Director of the Union Mission of Fairmont

Union Mission of Fairmont had to cut back on their resident intake due to COVID-19 restrictions, but they still have around 50 people safe under its roof. They also continue to give free meals each day to the remaining population.