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Could COVID-19 impact on local homeless community grow in 2021?

Could COVID-19 impact on local homeless grow in 2021?
Posted at 9:42 PM, Dec 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-04 23:19:45-05

CLEVELAND — Leading Northeast Ohio agencies that help greater Cleveland's homeless are concerned more will lose their homes if the CDC's eviction moratorium and a new federal stimulus package aren't extended by the end of the year.

Chris Knestrick, Executive Director for the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, said without additional federal aid and a continued hold on evictions, more people will fall through into homelessness.

“We’re seeing high numbers in homelessness, we’re seeing new families coming into our community," Knestrick said. “The eviction moratorium, that needs to continue. If it doesn’t I think we’re going to be in a very dangerous spot. We’re seeing more people living in their car than we’ve ever seen before in the past. A lot of folks that were previously doubled up and or had a job and then found themselves unemployed."

Rich Trickel, CEO with the City Mission said local agencies have done an excellent job stopping the spread of COVID-19 among the homeless population, but said Congress must agree on a new coronavirus relief package by the end of the year.

"We've done everything we could to keep our staff and our clients healthy and safe," Trickel said. “They also brought online about 250 hotel rooms to purposely keep people out of congregate living facilities, but those hotel rooms are expensive. We have families, we have mothers and children, we have single adults, we have vets. We’ve got to get past all this partisan bickering and fighting and all of this stuff."

Lois Brown, a homeless mother of two, is now living at the City Mission's Laura's Home.

Brown said more federal aid is crucial.

“It’s a scary feeling to have to be put in a place like that and not know where you’re going to go next." Brown said. “It’s a very scary time, it makes you cry, it makes you wonder what you did wrong. Laura’s Home has really shaped my life, to help me go out into the real world and reset the button.

“The families here are in true need of more resources. I was living in my car when I called Laura’s Home, it’s not a very pleasant experience, but I made the best of it. But there is a rainbow around the corner, there are people that still care because I thought people didn’t care about me but there is help.”

If you would like to help, or make a donation, you can contact The City Mission or the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless.