LAKE COUNTY, Ohio — In Ohio, more than 10,000 people experience homelessness on any given day. To make life better for people caught in the cycle of poverty, a local shelter is offering additional support.
When one checks into the only homeless shelter in Lake County, guests receive 45 days to come up with a plan. Project Hope for the Homeless in Painesville does more than send people packing once their time has expired—it equips them with what they need to make a house a home.
Nearly a quarter of the population in Painesville lives in poverty.
"My husband's hours started dwindling down and his pay was only $8.10 an hour,” Rose Rese Williams said.
Williams’ husband’s work didn't align with the strict hours of Project Hope for the Homeless, so he laid his head wherever he could, separated from his wife and kids.
"Homeless doesn't discriminate,” Tonya Abney said.
Abney runs the shelter's after care program; making sure to check in with people, like Rose, after they leave. Abney is a one-woman support system.
She said the homeless population is growing, especially among kids and seniors.
"They're living basically off their social security,” said Abney. "It's pretty tough to see individuals come in.”
In addition to those check-ins, the program also sets folks up with necessities to keep them from backsliding into homelessness.
Abney said fewer than 10 percent of guests must come back.
Williams signed up for the program after her time at the shelter ran out. She did end up returning for a job. Williams is now a residential assistant, providing hope for people who are where she was.
"Prayer changes things, that's for sure,” Williams said.
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.