Cleveland women's shelters see spike in calls due to heat, summer vacation

CLEVELAND - As the oppressive heat continues throughout Northeast Ohio, women’s shelters across the city are seeing a spike in calls for help.

On Tuesday, Cleveland hit a record high of 93 degrees.

On that day, Laura’s Home, a crisis shelter for women and children on the city’s west side, received 78 calls for help from women and children — families that had to be turned away.

Not because City Mission and Laura’s Home don’t want to be there for them, but because the shelter is always at capacity.

City Mission CEO Richard Trickel said the numbers are stunning — and shameful.

“This is not a surprise, it’s not unusual, it didn’t just happen,” Trickel said. “We’ve been dealing with this circumstance in Cleveland for a very, very, very long time, and you know what? We have no solutions, we have no resources, we have no answers, we have no provisions. It’s tragic.”

Sharmaine Matthews knows what it’s like to be waiting for a spot.

She came to Laura’s Home two months ago with her two young children after she left an abusive relationship. She said she is grateful to be there, but heartbroken for the families she knows are struggling to get the same help.

“I want to cry thinking about this because I am literally being rebuilt over, starting over from anew, and giving my children something to actually look forward to when we leave here,” Matthews said. “It’s a huge blessing for me.”

It took Matthews about a month to secure her spot.

Currently, Laura’s Home is housing 62 women and 91 children in its 55 rooms. Because they are at capacity, they are forced to refer families to other services.

The other women’s shelters in Cleveland have also seen an increase in recent days, not only because of the heat, but also because children are out of school and need a place to spend the day.

It's a cycle Trickel said they see happen every single year. Laura's Home is currently averaging 60 to 80 calls for help a day.

“There are, in our city, literally hundreds and hundreds of families that are living doubled up,” Trickel said. “It’s about the time where kids are going to be home all day, and at that point in time, a lot of those women lose their place wherever they are.”

Trickel said the best way for the community to help is by volunteering and giving donations.

According to a county spokeswoman, 34 families were in overflow shelters on Wednesday.

If a family calls 211, they will get help finding a place to stay, and the county said no one will be turned away.

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