As part of its Bearing Witness 2.0 project, the Huffington Post is rounding up a few of the best local stories of the day.
The number of homeless students in Brevard County, Fla., more than doubled this year, reports Megan Downs of Florida Today, and for the first time the school district qualified for federal aid to help the deal with the problem. Many of the students are "in transition": temporarily living with extended family or friends, or moving out of a foreclosed home in troubled times.
"Our families have turned to places where they usually go to for help, and those organizations are tapped out," said Hilah Mercer, principal of Cambridge Elementary School. "These grants will certainly help."
Residents of suburban Henry County, on the outskirts of Atlanta, Ga., are bridging the racial divide in the hard economy, reports Shaila Dewan of the Gainesville Sun. Longer lines at social service agencies are filled with residents of every color and former racial animosity is turning into solidarity.
"There used to be a lot of racial tension here, but everybody knows that we need each other to survive this recession," said Eugene Edwards, the president of the local NAACP branch. "People now, they seem to be starting to care for one another."
Three sisters in Franklin, N.C., aged 63 to 74, all have their own health care horror stories, reports Bibeka Shrestha for the Smoky Mountain News. Their insurance companies have abused their trust, they say, and have taken advantage of them for the last decade.
Suzanne Thomas was bankrupted by a $35,000 hospital bill after her spleen ruptured. Her sister, Karen Rice, suffered a shoulder injury around the same time, which put her about $30,000 in debt. In order to pay and prevent a future disaster, she sold her home and cut off every cost she could -- she's now lighting her mobile home with candles. And Shirley Ches, 74, said that her insurance costs have gone up 15 percent in the last year, and a third of her household income now goes to paying premiums.
In Philadelphia, a program started last year prevents any house owned by the people who live there from going into foreclosure until the owner and lender meet in person and try to work things out, reports the New York Times' Peter S. Goodman. People facing foreclosure are given counseling and sometimes provided with legal assistance.
"I realized we're either going to go down in flames or we're going to be a national model," said Judge Annette Rizzo, who helped to develop the program. Of the 61 foreclosure cases that the legal aid group Philadelphia Volunteers for the Indigent Program has tracked, only five ended up in sheriff's sales.
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