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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report says 553,000 Americans experienced homelessness on a single night, but that doesn’t mean all families stick together when they find shelter.

New Futures is opening doors for families to stick together. Geanna Ross is a resident of the shelter and she’s happy to be with her family and not separated.

“I was worried about being able to keep our family together, ’cause I grew up without a mom and a dad and I want my kids to grow up with their mom and their dad,” Ross said.

New Futures is the only homeless shelter in Madison County that allows families to stay in the same room together.

“There is no other shelter in the area that is able to take fathers with children regardless of male or female,” said executive director Tanya Raines.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reports 864 people in Alabama — families with children — are homeless.

“They’re not the ones you see standing at the corners asking for help,” said Raines.

Some, like the Ross family, are experiencing homelessness for the first time.

“I just didn’t want people to judge us or say we’re bad parents ’cause we let this happen,” said Ross. “You get a job and a company closes and you lose your job. My husband was the only one working.”

New Futures allows them to work their way out of homelessness while living together. It is officially considered an emergency shelter because residents are not long term, but unlike other shelters where you can walk-in and stay overnight — families must apply for residency at the shelter.