CLEVELAND — Cuyahoga County's largest overflow shelter for women and children, The Haven Home, is helping one Cleveland mother heal, and rebuild a better life with her family.
"I look at my kids and always remember that I gotta keep going," the mother, Treasure, said.
She lives at the shelter with her 2 year old and 4 year old sons.
The shelter opened five years ago this holiday season. At that time, it was supposed to be temporary. However, The Haven Home is still providing help and hope to so many mothers.
Treasure and her children are waiting for room to open at one of three, county-funded family shelters in Cleveland.
At The Haven Home, they have their own space, access to meals and programs. And with the holidays here, gifts for the kids too.
Treasure said it is a blessing for her and her sons.
"It is motivating me a lot," she said.
Five years ago, Treasure and her sons would’ve been sleeping on a gym floor. At that time, Cuyahoga County didn’t have enough beds for emergency overflow.
The Haven Home opened to get families off the floor and better connected to services. It was supposed to be open just a few months, but five years later its still operating and at capacity nearly every single night. Capacity is 17 families or about 50 individuals, with two staff.
Also, The Haven Home has added more services and programs to help mothers, like Treasure, and their children have the opportunity to rebuild their lives..
"All it takes is one crisis," said Cindy Rios, executive director of The Haven Home.
Rios says not only is the demand still high, but the women are also now staying longer.
"It used to be they were here for a week or so, but now they’re here for four or five weeks," said Rios.
"It's not because we’re at capacity, it’s because the whole system is at capacity and there’s just not enough to help people."
Affordable housing is a big issue.
For example, housing provider EDEN reports a 30% increase in services since 2019.
"Some days, I’m overwhelmed and stressed because some people accept EDEN, others don’t," Treasure explained, saying securing housing on the voucher system can be competitive and challenging.
The Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority says there are currently 10,620 people on the waitlist for CMHA public housing; 2,777 of the families on the waitlist have children. The waitlist for vouchers through the Housing Choice Voucher Program is currently 14,913—of those—6,009 of the families have children.
Rios said you can't just put a family into a home and call it good. She says it's a great start, but they need mentorship and support. She said she often gets calls for help with diapers and more from families who stayed at The Haven Home several years ago.
Despite the difficulties securing housing, Treasure said she feels encouraged and supported at The Haven Home.
"Being here has taught me a lot," she said. "It really did. It's kept me sane. It is what you make it.”
Rios said The Haven Home wouldn’t have made it these five years without the community’s support.
"People give their time; some people give their treasure, some people collect items for us. There are a lot of different ways people can help. And it really is our responsibility to do that," she said.
And for mothers and children like Treasure and her sons, it’s making a difference.
Treasure just got a job at a day care. She said a rep from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services visited The Haven Home and helped with her resume and job search.
She is also enrolling in a teaching program and is determined to build a better life for her and her sons.
"Keep fighting," said Treasure. "Every day. Even with tears in your eyes, get up and keep fighting. Don’t stop. There’s a rainbow on the other side of this rain.”
CLICK HERE to read more about The Haven Home and resources it has available.
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