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‘I Don’t Want My Child Taken Away From Me’: Lack Of Funding Forcing 45 Homeless Women Back Onto Streets

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Dozens of homeless women will soon be on the streets of Philadelphia as the shelter they’ve called home for sometime shuts its doors. Despite some city officials’ best efforts, there’s nothing they can do to keep the doors open.

For the last four months, Fernwood East has been home for dozens of women who would otherwise be out on the streets.

But come March 29, they’ll have to get out and figure out another place to rest their heads, due to a lack of funding.

“These moms is going to be outside,” resident Candace Valentine said. “I’m a living example of it. I’ve been homeless for three years. This is actually the first time I’ve been in a shelter.”

Forty-five women each have their own stories of how they ended up here. One resident is being tasked with finding housing for herself and her unborn child.

“Where am I going to go? I don’t have no family, I don’t want to have my baby at another shelter,” Talisha Walker said. “I don’t want my child taken away from me because I don’t have the proper living for my child.”

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Most say a gentrified Philadelphia became too much to afford.

Fernwest West opened to men back in 2012, but once Philadelphia was hit by the opioid epidemic, shelters became overcrowded, leaving no beds for women.

That’s when a temporary emergency shelter opened for women, dubbed Fernwood East.

“This opioid crisis makes everything worse. I’m glad that we focused on it, because for a long time, the city kind of turned its head,” councilwoman Jannie Blackwell said.

Once the women found out their eviction date was March 29, they went to Blackwell for help.

In order to keep the doors open for three more months, the shelter needs $390,000.

“We need at least an extension, for all of us to get our housing benefits that have already been in the system, that we have been here trying to get housing,” Fernwood East resident Annawar Marlow said.

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The ladies are hoping to raise enough money to keep the doors open just a little while longer, but they say the ultimate goal is permanent housing.

“Where do you expect these ladies to go? Where do you expect for these mothers to go?” Valentine asked.

If you would like to help with funding for Fernwood East, contact the Office of Homeless Services at 215-686-4700.

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