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United Way awards new money to help Toledo shelters

United Way awards new money to help Toledo shelters
United Way awards new money to help Toledo shelters(WTVG)
Published: Oct. 8, 2021 at 8:36 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - With winter months just around the corner, it’s an effort to address Toledo’s homelessness issue.

The numbers are trending in the wrong direction as we see one of the ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rental assistance ending, relief packages drying up and evictions starting again. Each one of those issues increases homelessness numbers as we head to a season when people need shelter.

At St. Paul’s Community Center in downtown Toledo COVID has increased demand and another COVID winter is expected to do that again.

“I have the key to the door. I can either say ‘Ok staff lock up the door. Don’t let anybody in. Or i can say no wait people are outside. It’s cold, it’s sub-freezing . They’re going to die. We have to do something,” said Joe Habib of the St. Paul’s Community Center.

$100,000 is now coming from the United Way of Greater Toledo will be split between Saint Paul’s and other Toledo shelters. They’re flexible dollars so each group can sue them as they see fit.

“We were cleaning and disinfecting hourly. So the amount of supplies we go through is tremendous,” said Tonia Pace of Family House.

“You’ve got to think how difficult it is to fill positions in our community as it is. Whether it’s stores or restaurants we know that to be true. Imagine how hard it is to find temporary shelter workers for the winter. That’s what they’re up against,” said Wendy Pestrue.

There are hundreds waiting to get into shelters and those numbers could increase at any time. For example the Days Inn on Miami Street. Nearly 4 dozen people live there long term and a judge has ordered the hotel to be closed.

“A Days Inn situation is urgent and we certainly can’t be responsible for putting people out on the street,” said Rachel Gagnon of the Toledo Lucas County Homelessness Board.

Gagnon says they’re trying to distributing resources equitably and try to get an many people into housing as possible. Getting them out of a cycle that takes a toll on someone physically and mentally.

“With that, I think, comes a lot of bias in how folks get to this space. I would just argue that anyone of us are closer to homelessness at any point than we are to being a billionaire,” said Gagnon.

The recent homeless numbers aren’t moving in the right direction. From June to August of 2021 the United Way 211 saw a 400% increase on their shelter waiting list.

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