WASHINGTON -- Almost one in five clients of Christian rescue missions said they were victims of physical violence within the past year, a 6 percent jump from the previous year, according to a new survey.
"It's quite possible that the uptick in physical violence ... is due to a friend or family member's feeling of desperation and helplessness accompanying their unemployment and underemployment," said John Ashmen, president of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions (AGRM).
The Snapshot Survey of the homeless is conducted annually by AGRM, North America's oldest and largest network of independent homeless shelters and rehabilitation centers.
Almost 19,000 individuals took the survey in October at 114 rescue missions; 17 percent of those surveyed were not currently homeless, but all had received services offered at the missions, such as food and medical care.
Although a quarter of those surveyed said they had been homeless three or more times before, an even higher figure -- 35 percent -- said they had never before been homeless.