Cleveland homeless mothers turned away, not enough shelter space for women and children

Posted at 10:32 PM, Mar 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-01 22:32:00-05

Cleveland's Laura's Home Women's Crisis Center reports it has the heartbreaking task of turning away dozens of homeless mothers every day.

City Mission CEO Rich Trickle told News 5 the 166 beds at Laura's Home have been filled to capacity for several years, leaving a growing number of homeless mothers with few options.

Trickle said there are a growing number of homeless mothers, and HUD funding under the Housing First program isn't set-up to deal with the problem, causing huge cuts in Cleveland's shelter capacity.

"I mean it's an absolute tragedy in our city," said Trickle.

"We say no to to 70, 80, 90, that number has gone up to, on a few occasions 100 calls a day."

"Emergency shelters have disappeared, transitional housing units have disappeared.  In Cleveland alone, we've lost almost 400 beds because of the shift in funding."

Trickle said the Norma Herr Women's Center is also filled way beyond capacity.

Rhianon Chapek and her three young children have been homeless for several months after Chapek lost her job and was evicted from her apartment.

Chapek who has been fortunate to find space at Laura's Home said she tried to stay at the Norma Herr Women's Center, but she said the facility was packed and requires homeless mother to leave the facility with their children for several hours during the day.

"So I went down there thinking they could help me, and they have nothing," said Chapek.

"Norma Herr Center is ridiculous, what do they expect you to do if you have kids?  I mean what are you going to do, drag your kids around?  Especially in cold weather, in the snow, and then you have to take all belongings with you."

Trickle told News 5 Laura's Home is privately funded, but he'll lobby federal lawmakers to change how HUD dollars are focused.

Trickle said he'll soon be reaching out to more than 500 northeast Ohio churches, hoping to organize an interfaith meeting in search of solutions.