Women and children fend for themselves after cycling through Cleveland's homeless shelters

Posted at 8:42 AM, Jul 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-12 18:44:15-04

Between summer vacation pictures on our Facebook feeds, News 5 found a post that highlights the challenge homeless families face during the summer months.

It says The City Mission's women's shelter, Laura's Home, had to turn away 91 women and children because their facilities are already full. Experts say it's a symptom of an approach to homelessness that works for some, but not all.

"My story was rough, is rough," said Evelyn Andrews, sitting at a table at Laura's Home.

In the nine months, Andrews has spent at Laura's Home she's learned everything she never knew about living out in the world.

"I'm 46 years old and I have never lived on my own," said Andrews. "I didn't know how to live in society. I was always incarcerated. I was always locked up."

"She's been in another facility three times, and yet here she came again to The City Mission," said The City Mission C.E.O. Rich Trickel.

Trickel says women like Evelyn, and their kids, often cycle through homeless shelters because of how the shelters are designed to work.

The three Cuyahoga County Shelters that handle homeless families are funded by federal and county money, forcing them to prioritize getting families out of shelters and into housing as soon as possible.

Trickel says that might work for some, but not people like Evelyn. She spent nine months in Laura's Home before she moved into a subsidized apartment as early as this week.

"They're not going to survive just because you put them in a house and gave them four months of rental vouchers," said Trickel.

He says the solution might be government rethinking how it uses its funding, or through the surrounding community stepping up.

"You know, government did not used to be the primary provider of this," said Trickel, referring to resources for homeless people. "It was society, it was the church, it was families."