Child homelessness on the rise

COLUMBUS, GA (WXTX) - When it comes to homelessness among children, the state of Alabama is ranked as the worst in the nation.

A new report by the National Center for Family Homelessness ranks Alabama number 50 for the well-being of homeless children.  Georgia is a little better but not much coming in at number 41.

Nine-year-old Xandra Kurtz and 8-year-old Dynisha Carter are best friends and normal little girls.

"[We like to] play outside, do our homework, go to school and just hang out," said Kurtz.

However, Xandra and Dynisha do not have a home to go to.  Instead, they are staying here at the House of Mercy.

"I worry that people say, 'Well she's not able to supply for her kids.  She's not able to provide for her children.  So, she's not worthy of having her children.'  One of my biggest fears was having someone report me and have my children taken away," said Xandra's mother, Annette Canchani.

Canchani lost her job more than two years ago in Florida and moved her two young daughters to Alabama this summer.  Unable to find work, she turned to the House of Mercy.  That is where the family met Dynisha, her three brothers and sisters, and mother Monica Carter.

"As long as we're not on the street, we have a place to live," said Dynisha.

"It really tears you down because you're supposed to be able to provide for your children, and then, knowing you can't provide for them.  It does something to your self esteem," said Carter.

These moms say they have struggled to find jobs, could not afford daycare, and could not find enough resources to help them.

Elder Bobby Harris with House of Mercy says over the past four years, the homeless shelter has seen more women and children needing help.

"[We need to] Look within our own state see what we can do to create jobs.  We have to look within the state itself and the city and see what we can do to create jobs," said Harris.

While their moms are working to provide for their families again, these two girls are dreaming of the houses they hope to one day call home.

"A red house with stairs and we have a car," said Dynisha.

"I want a house that's maybe a two story building with six bedrooms."

Both moms say they are trying to find work or thinking about going back to school.  If you would like to help the House of Mercy Elder Harris says you can make a donation at 1532 Third Avenue in Columbus.