4th Annual Dubuque Sleep Out - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

4th Annual Dubuque Sleep Out

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) - It's something people say will never happen to them , homelessness. But with Iowa's unemployment now at a 23 year high, it only takes a few months before a family can go from being on the edge, to falling off.

In fact, half of those who lose their jobs, fail to find work within six months, and cities across the country are reporting a sharp increase in homeless families.

It happens every year, people sleep outside under cardboard boxes to help raise awareness about homelessness but this year in Dubuque its a warm September that's gonna bring more people to the downtown area, and hopefully bring more awareness.

From green grass to cardboard box, the annual Dubuque Sleep Out is taking over Washington Park in Dubuque.

"We're gonna have about 50 people sleeping out tonight trying to raise funds, donations and awareness about homelessness in the community," said Jenny Manders, of Project Concern.

But this year is different. All you have to do is look at what people are wearing.

"Previous years we have it in November but we hoped that having it in september would encourage more participants and so far that's been the case," said Manders.

Friday afternoon members of the Dubuque homeless advisory council set up for a night of activities and outreach to the downtown area. Members from the disabled veterans association are also camping out. They hope to raise awareness about a group that sometimes gets forgotten.

"There's over 1,100 homeless veterans in iowa and our goal is to get them all off the streets," said Jim Wagner, Vietnam veteran.

Of course anyone can participate all you need is a cardboard box. You can stop by and visit the "homeless" or you can spend the night. The group is also taking donations. Including blankets, food, sleeping bags, winter clothing and cash.

By night fall washington park will fill with people, who will mostly likely spend the night in a cardboard box. They plan to stay here till Saturday morning at 9 am. Once they get up. They'll go through with their normal Saturday routine.

Almost as surprising as the number of people needing assistance, the number of resources for families on the verge. From job training through housing and urban development, to services from community, religious, and united way groups, its important to seek help sooner rather than later.

Online Reporter: Lauren Squires
Follow Lauren on Twitter.

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