CLEVELAND - As the temperature rises so does the need across the Cleveland area for a safe place for homeless women and their children to live. Yet, officials at one shelter say they are not able to keep up with a recent spike in demand.
"This was going to be my home," said Starkela Ingram, 34, standing in front of her van with her 9-month-old baby.
It's a fate many mothers are forced to consider as family shelters remain crowded this summer. This week alone at Laura's Home Women's Crisis Center, a part of The City Mission, officials say they received more than 300 calls for help and were forced to turn everyone away because of overcrowding.
Ingram says she considers herself blessed. After being told there was no room for her family of four, she continued to call the shelter, until her life changed. Although she has housing at the shelter, Ingram says she will always remember what it was like being a homeless mother.
"It's heartbreaking because you can't provide for your children," said Ingram. "You can't put a roof over their head."
Officials at the shelter fear the trend of turning more families away in their most critical time of need will only rise this summer.
"We're full and the best we can do is say please call every day," said Linda Uveges, The City Mission's chief operating officer. "The need is great, women are calling every day; just this week we've had over 350 calls from women and children seeking help and a safe place to stay."
Uveges says summer is the season where the calls tend to increase. Since June the calls for help have nearly doubled.
"Evictions are the highest during the summer months," explained Uveges. "This is where landlords are; maybe they've held out through the bitter cold and the winter time where they don't want to evict a family but many say, 'It's nice outside; it's summer; it's time for you to go."
According to Uveges, when schools close for summer those in poverty can experience a critical strain. The cost of child care and bills can easily creep up on a family barely getting by.
Although there is no quick fix for the widespread problem, Ingram wants moms like her to know with persistent calls there is a chance for a place to call home, if only for a while.
"Continue to pray," said Ingram. "I would say call and don't give up. It's something better out there for you."
If you would like to help, there are ways to get involved at The City Mission at this link.