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'Do I put food on the table? Or do I pay the rent?:' A tough reality might be coming

Homeless shelters prepare for a possible influx as COVID-19 emergency SNAP benefits go away in nearly two weeks.
Posted at 10:25 PM, Feb 12, 2023

CLEVELAND — In nearly two weeks, COVID-19 emergency SNAP benefits nationwide will be ending. That means recipients will no longer be receiving two monthly payments as they've been for the last three years. Area homeless shelters are preparing as many families could be stuck making a difficult choice.

“Unfortunately, Cleveland is ranked third of one of the most neediest cities in the United States,” said Linda Uveges, CEO of The City Mission.

Uveges said its women and children's shelter, Laura's Home, remains full.

“We have 166 beds at Laura’s home, that services women and children and that has been at capacity for the last 7 years,” Uvegas added.

With COVID-19 emergency snap benefits are ending March 1 nationwide. Cuyahoga County Jobs and Family Services said over 200 thousand households will find it harder to pay for groceries.

“This is a huge impact the community, we’re talking $20 million dollars, a little more every month, that’s extra in SNAP benefits that’s going out there,” said Kevin Gowan, Administrator with Cuyahoga County Job and Family Services.

Cuyahoga families were given a minimum of $95 dollars in extra allotments monthly over the last three years. This past year, the bonus cash helped families battle inflated food prices. Experts believe the high costs at the grocery won’t be ending any time soon. The United States Department of Agriculture predicts food costs will continue to increase by 8% in 2023. Uveges fears parents will soon be left making a nearly impossible choice.

“Do I put food on the table? Or do I pay the rent?” Uveges said. “With the cost of groceries and gas and pretty much everything the basic needs that we need are becoming out of reach for many of residents and those who are on the verge of becoming homeless.”

Children could get caught in the middle, especially as summer months approach and parents will have gone months without the extra benefits.

“Sometimes mom and their children are able to stay with a relative or friend on their couch or on the floor, unfortunately,” said Uveges. “But when school is out, they are asked to leave because, it’s been nice to have you here, but now that the kids are here all day, they really don’t want that situation.”

Last year, The City Mission expanded Laura's Home by 10,000 square feet to help meet the growing needs of Cleveland's youth, but as March 1st looms, those efforts may be challenged.

“I think it’s going to be a significant issue for many that we serve or those who are just on the verge of being able to stay in their home or having to lose their home and go to a shelter,” Uveges added.

Uveges said despite having a constant waiting list at the city mission's shelters, if more families need help making ends meet, they will continue to offer guidance.

“Unfortunately, we are not able to help everyone who calls, but we are able to refer them to another shelter or other services within our community,” Uveges said.

If you are in need of shelter, you can call The City Mission at 216-431-3510. You can also call United Way of Greater Cleveland at 211. Click here to visit The City Mission’s website or click here to visit Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless.

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