My friend reports there are now families in our small city living out of their cars. For people without extended family support, losing an income and then savings and a home is immediately devastating. Getting another job these days is difficult if not just impossible. Generally homeless families have gravitated toward downtown and other places where there are more social services and support, but there's no room at the inn, so to speak.
One of my kids spent four hours yesterday with his Cub Scout friends collecting canned foods for a food pantry that's empty. His feet hurt so much last night I had to give him Tylenol and a heat pack. They collected 1000 cans/food items, which will help a lot of people though not for as long as in the past.
I am concerned that homelessness is going to increase drastically--you can't get section 8 housing, food stamps, unemployment checks, overnight, and what resources there are already are strained. I think a lot of families may not know about the resources available or apply until it's too late. The local charity that provides toys and clothing for local children received fewer donations this year but had greater need, and coats were swept up as soon as people donated them.
I know families who once shopped at Target who are now shopping at Goodwill; clothing exchanges at churches give them some extra options. Wheelie Catholic reminds us at her blog to keep up donations of clothes and other household items, or to resell them through ebay so that both families save money. Clothing consignment is also a good option, though there often aren't as many for older toddler/preschool boys, who seem to wear them out fully and quickly. Watching for canned foods, fortified cereals, hearty soups and protein foods like tuna, beans, and peanut butter on sale or in bulk and donating them to the food pantry will also help.
I just hope things turn around. My son knows that families really need the food they collected yesterday.