LOGAN – Three years ago Logan’s wife Caitlin Osborne was pregnant with her fifth child. But along with her partner, Allan, and their four children, she too was homeless.
“When you’re homeless you find yourself in this mindset where everything is so much harder,” Osborne said.
Originally from Jackson, Osborne has lived his entire life in Southeast Ohio. Her relationship wasn’t exactly approved by her Jackson family, she explained. So when she was effectively evicted from the property they were staying in, the family moved to Chillicothe to live with Allan’s mother.
However, while in Chillicothe, Osborne was hospitalized with an infection. Hospital staff told her that she might lose an arm (she did not, although she lost the use of a finger).
Then Allan lost his job.
“At the time he was at home with (the) kids, (they) came to the hospital to see me,” Osborne said. “The water was cut off – the owner over there said, ‘you can’t stay here anymore,’ and kicked us out. And we kind of bounced back between (families).
Osborne said she and her family spent a night homeless before seeking help.
“We had a Ford pickup truck,” Osborne said, adding that it was a single cab. “We stayed there for one night and Allan and I slept on the floor. The children slept in the cab of the truck.
Osborne said that due to the culture she grew up in, she was afraid to contact government agencies and resources for fear of looking like a bad parent.
“But once we got in touch with them, they said ‘try the shelter.’ We had never heard of it, ”said Osborne. “And we came here and they accepted us.”
The shelter, she found, was Logan’s Hocking Hills Inspire Shelter (HHIS), 841 Old McArthur Rd – and one of the only homeless shelters in the area.
HHIS serves Hocking County and surrounding areas, HHIS executive director Nancy Wright said in an email on Thursday. According to a previous Logan Daily News report, HHIS was established in 2011 and opened at its current location in 2018.
Wright said in an email that the non-profit shelter, which receives no city or county funding, is a 14-bed facility and has served up to 22 people at a time (“It depends on demographics, ”Wright said – children’s sizes and ages, for example).
As the bedroom is divided by gender at the shelter, Osborne’s friend was placed in a two-room space that was separated by a door. It was difficult to adjust to the shelter, she said; at first she “hated” her rules, chores and regulations. The family left all day and walked with their children; luckily it was summer.
The family stayed there for about six months until Allan got a good construction job; the family found a church and a place to live (a $ 700 a month repairman, Osborne said). The family was able to find unsubsidized housing thanks to their new income. Even though the house they moved into was not finished, “it was a house we were all together,” she said.
“More than anyone is willing to admit it”
HHIS currently employs seven people – and Osborne is one of them.
“I’ve wanted to work here since we were here,” Osborne said. “Because I’m homeless and after going through this I’m just like, ‘I really want to give back to these people. “
Now a mother of six, Osborne is a shelter manager at HHIS. She loves her job because she can share her story with the residents and “tell everyone, ‘you can do this, you can get away with it.’ She has been a shelter manager for about two months, she said.
For Captain Gabriel, there are basically two types of homeless people living as homeless: those who have experienced hard times and those whose choices have led them to homelessness and refuse to look back. However, there is also a transient homeless population; conversely, there are long-term homeless people in Logan whom the police know well.
“We have met, through law enforcement actions, many people who basically, legitimately, in the past (at the time), were saying, for example: ‘I am homeless, because I don’t own a house, but I stay with my mate ‘or whatever. But they’re basically people who live on the streets – obviously we’ve had an increase in relationships with this group of people. “
The LPD sees fewer “traditional” people experiencing homelessness – not families who are the “unlucky” or “lost their jobs” type, but rather people between the ages of 18 and 30 who “because of their poor lifestyles. Choices were kicked out of “friends and family homes” and forced to be on the streets because they have illicit drug habits and refused to get help. Others are “passengers,” said Gabriel; their populations increase or decrease according to “circumstances and time”.
In Osborne’s view, homelessness stems from more than two sets of circumstances.
“There are all different backgrounds here,” Osborne said of the shelter. “I’m not trying to love, to say (I was) exactly where everyone is because I haven’t had it that hard – each person has a completely different reason why they are homeless and what she’s going through. It is quite different. But I like being able to talk with them and cook with them and just help them; I pray with them, different things.
And for Wright, there is a stigma associated with poor people, “or people in the circumstances that I work with.”
“Even if someone is recovering, that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a chance,” Wright said in an email. “They might not live up to the chance, but that’s not for us to judge. The shelter is there to help anyone we can.
Osborne said that while she doesn’t know the full extent of the homeless people in Logan, she described it as “disheartening and overwhelming.”
When asked how many people in Logan could be living as homeless, Wright said in an email that she knew “there are more than anyone willing to admit.”
While the shelter provides care for those who qualify, Osborne knows those who don’t may still be experiencing homelessness. “There are also a lot of people who don’t meet the requirements,” she said, including those with “bad” backgrounds.
“The only reason someone absolutely can’t stay at the shelter is if they have an active warrant, arson, or sex offense,” Wright said in an email. “Everything else is on a case-by-case basis. But we take into consideration the residents that we already have here to attract new customers. “
The HHIS is not a home, Osborne said, despite the comfort, security and length of time staying there. It can’t be a house; it’s temporary and it’s help. A requirement for those who stay is that they must seek accommodation throughout their stay, Osborne continued.
“We want you to get out of here because we want you to be on your feet,” Osborne said, adding that the shelter is working with those who stay there to help them plan for their lives after their stay.
Despite his history, Osborne avoids assuming that anyone who stays at the shelter can relate to his experience. However, she hopes it may provide some potential comfort to those who use her services.
Those who live at the shelter are a “community,” Osborne said. Beyond chatting, eating and praying with residents, Osborne said they also decorate for the holidays, do crafts together, and share household chores. Upon entering the refuge, it’s hard to miss the laughter and exuberance of its younger residents.
HHIS is not a drop-in center; appointments, applications and interviews are necessary for a stay. However, Osborne pointed out that HHIS offers a variety of essential items – no questions asked – for people on the move who are in need.
“We distribute all feminine hygiene products,” Osborne said. “Like somebody come up here and, even if they don’t stay here or whatever, ask for food, coats, blankets… deodorant, toothpaste, stuff like that.” We distribute that. We give them that.
Wright recommends that those interested in learning more about local roaming follow HHIS on Facebook; those interested in helping the shelter can make monetary donations, dinner donations, and items such as food and toilet paper.
HHIS is open Monday to Thursday from noon to 3 p.m. and closed from Friday to Sunday. He can be reached by phone at (740) 385-5116.