CLEVELAND – We have an important follow-up, regarding women and children in crisis in Cleveland.
The City Mission operates an emergency overflow shelter because all the family shelters in the city are currently full. It opened in September 2016. The first month they provided 71 nights of sleep for women and children. Fast forward to October 2017, they provided more than 900. Below is a chart of the numbers provided to date.
“Never; I would’ve never thought I’d be in the place I am right now,” said LaShawnda.
She has three children and has been at the emergency overflow shelter for a week.
Every woman’s story is unique, but so many tell me they simply have no safety net. No one to turn to for help.
“I want to cry every day, all day, but I have to be strong for my children,” she said.
The City Mission opened the emergency overflow shelter so the families would at least have a safe place to sleep, but the shelter is only open at night and they must leave during the day.
“This is not an acceptable solution, but if this is the solution, and maybe it is, then let’s make some accommodations for them so that at least they’re being treated in a way that provides some dignity,” said Rich Trickel, City Mission CEO.
The Cleveland/Cuyahoga County Office of Homeless Services contracts with an organization called FrontLine to operate Coordinated Intake, which serves the newly homeless. Mothers check-in daily to get their name on a waitlist for one of the family shelters. There is limited overflow at those shelters, but for the past year it hasn’t been enough.
That is why the City Mission opened its gym.
Starting this week, a welcomed improvement – the mothers in emergency overflow will now have access to a case manager.
FrontLine says it’s reassigned staff and is hiring an additional employee to begin connecting the women to services.
“Somebody needs to react and respond to what I am saying is happening in the gym and what are you going to do about it,” said Trickel. “No one is talking about that yet!”
“Everybody in the system is working really hard so that the length of time they’re in overflow is as short as possible,” said Ruth Gillette, manager of the Office of Homeless Services.
Gillette said they never turn anyone away. She said they’re grateful to the City Mission and are working to find accommodations outside the mission’s gym.
“We’re trying to find another partner that has a better facility, a more comfortable facility, for those families,” said Gillette.
However, she wouldn’t provide details or a timeline for when it may open.
Gillette said they believe the numbers will go down, “because as we serve families more quickly the need for the overflow will decline,” she said.
She said they do that in part with Rapid Rehousing. It is a HUD program that she said provides a family in shelter with a security deposit and four months of rent for a unit inspected to meet federal standards. She said additional rent subsidies are available after the four months if needed.
“So, the goal is to not have families come back into shelter,” said Gillette.
READ MORE: News5Cleveland.com
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