GEAUGA COUNTY, Ohio — What looks like an open field really could hold the answer to what Geauga Faith Rescue Mission’s (GFRM) Nathan Long says are 100 calls for help from people who are homeless a year in the Geauga County.
"We are not able to meet those needs at all,” said Long.
That’s why GFRM is trying to help.
While other counties in the northeast corner of Ohio have some facility or organization that can care for homeless people immediately, Geauga County doesn’t have that kind of resource.
Long says GFRM has a plan that could help.
“An emergency shelter,” said Long. “It will provide that immediate care that [homeless people] need to get them back on their feet.”
Long calls the shelter’s potential future client the “Hidden Homeless” because they aren’t as easy to identify in rural areas like Geauga County as they might be in urban communities.
He says homeless people in Geauga County often couch surf or stay with friends or family for short periods of time because the only shelters for them are in other communities. Just because they are homeless doesn’t mean they don’t have responsibilities.
“We’ve seen those the are homeless in our county already have jobs and are working that are just out of place to stay,” said Long.
A local address could provide the stability they need while they find a more permanent place to live. Still, Long says there’s been some push back.
“There are some apprehensions to having a facility like this in the city and most of those are based on the unknowns and fears,” said Long.
Long says he hopes the presentation GFRM makes to the Chardon Planning Commission Monday, May 20 will address those fears. Directors from similar shelters in similar communities are expected to explain how their shelters have positively impacted the community’s they’ve opened in while also helping people who need a helping hand.
“Once they enter the door, there are people there that are going to be greeting them, that’s going to be rebuilding their self-dignity,” said Long.
This story is part of A Better Land , an ongoing series that investigates Northeast Ohio's deep-seated systemic problems. Additionally, it puts a spotlight on the community heroes fighting for positive change in Cleveland and throughout the region. If you have an idea for A Better Land story, tell us here .