Advocates for homeless open up about obstacles - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Advocates for homeless open up about obstacles to fixing problem

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MEIGS COUNTY, Oh. -

A fundraiser at the Kountry Resort Campground was organized to supplement the public aid that homeless families receive.

Despite the rain, about a hundred showed up for the annual "Driving Out Homelessness" benefit on Saturday.

"I wanted a new start, and I'm getting it," says Shenia Hogan, a mother of three, who tells us that she and her three children were driven out of their northeastern Ohio home by crime.

"My house got shot up, and police couldn't do anything, and they couldn't guarantee our safety," says Ms. Hogan, tearfully, as she hugs her ten-year-old daughter, Isabelle. "I'd rather live in a truck, and have my children, than live in a house, and not know if they're going to survive."

Ms. Hogan owes a lot to homeless liaison, Linda Michael, whose job it is to help homeless families get integrated back into the education system.

Ms. Michael does this through grants she receives through Ohio's Continuum of Care.

Continuum of Care is a network of agencies that attack the problem of homelessness on different fronts.

Ms. Michael says, to lift a family out of poverty, takes more than a monthly welfare check.

She says this region of Ohio lacks the services and institutions needed to make a significant impact on the problem of homelessness.

"We need to have more affordable housing in this county," says Ms. Michael. "We need to have a homeless shelter in this county."

Ms. Michael went far beyond what is expected of her, as she recently managed to match Shenia Hogan and her children with a house.

"We have nothing in it, but we have a house," says Ms. Hogan, still in disbelief. "And that's pretty awesome."

It is awesome, and somewhat rare, according to Ms. Michael.

"But there's several other families that I work with that I can't hook them up that easily with housing," says Ms. Michael. "And I can't buy them housing with my grant."

With a homeless population of nearly 14 thousand people, Ohio ranks among the states with the most homeless residents.

In order to bring down that number, Ms. Michael hopes for more people at events like this weekend's.