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Summit County making room for the homeless during freezing cold temps

One Northeast Ohio program is partnering with local hotels to help get individuals experiencing homelessness back on their feet.

SUMMIT COUNTY, Ohio — Summit County is now making room for the homeless to stay during the weather and hard times by expanding into hotels for transitional housing. 

The room for more just became even more spacious.

“So, we have less people on our waiting list and can accommodate more people,” the Executive Director for Access Shelters Jackie Hemsworth said.

Individuals experiencing homelessness in Summit County can rely on more than just overnight shelters through at least the end of September through the Shelter Services Program.

The program is offering up hotel rooms as a more permanent place for transitions back into routine life.

The expansion is being facilitated by the City of Akron, the Summit County Continuum of Care and Access Shelters.

The idea is an expansion of a program that started at the onset of the pandemic.

“We noticed there was an overflow of people sitting on the waitlist for shelter beds,” the Executive Director of The Summit County Continuum of Care, Marquetta Boddie said. “We said ‘Ok, if there is not shelter bed available, we will put them in a hotel until a shelter bed becomes available.’”

Using area hotels, more men, women, children will have a place to rest easily, especially during the most frigid months of the year.

The program is using a total of eight rooms right now and will expand using other partners should more space be needed.

“We were full within one week of our expansion program,” Hemsworth said.

The program’s expansion is being funded using Federal CARES Act Funds.

“Before the CARES funds became available, no, we didn’t have access to any to that funding,” Boddie said.

The expansion program specifically tailors towards progress and getting the homeless out of the hotel as they re-gain stable independence.

“The goal for each of these residents is to be working diligently with our case management staff to get them into their own housing unit as they exit the hotel program,” Hemsworth said.

Leaders are looking ahead to how to advance the longevity of the program behind what’s already been allocated.

“The concern for me as the lead COC is, once that cares money is gone, what do we do?” Boddie said.

Cuyahoga County officials told 3News Wednesday that the county is not utilizing hotel expansion but that Cuyahoga Continuum of Care services that have been in place since the start of the pandemic are still available for anyone who needs it.


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