Pastor, church members need help opening homeless shelter in Portage County

PORTAGE COUNTY, OH (WOIO) - In all of Portage County, there is only one family homeless shelter with just 22 beds available.

Pastor Mark Miller of Portage Community Chapel in Ravenna wants to change that.

"We want to provide holistic healing for anyone who is vulnerable," said Miller.

Pastor Miller has banded together with his church members, like attorney Debra Booher, to raise money to turn a property purchased by the church into an 80-bed shelter.

Thousands of dollars are still needed to make The Haven of Portage County a reality.

"It is an emergency situation without a doubt - absolutely," said Booher.

The goal is to have The Haven of Portage County open in the next six to nine months.

In the meantime, it's estimated that close to 80 area homeless people are walking the streets in winter weather like Leah Clegg used to walk in when she was homeless.

Clegg is a mother of two who says her life used to be so much easier. She was married to a prominent attorney and had two kids, but an addiction that started with painkillers took over and destroyed everything.

"I became homeless about 20 years ago when I, inexcusably, took my son on a drug run, and he went to school the next day, told and he never came home, and I lost my housing," said Clegg.

When Clegg tried to find help, she found there was nowhere to go. She lived for months at a local cemetery. Luckily, she eventually found help and housing. To this day, she still is worried about becoming homeless again.

"I know people - right now - that are living in cars and under bridges," said Clegg.

Visit The Haven of Portage County if you would like to help.

Editor's note: Cleveland 19 News has partnered with The Haven of Portage County to help the homeless with a phone bank from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 21. In Portage County, 16 percent of the population lives in poverty with around 100 homeless people in Kent and Ravenna. The Haven of Portage County is a faith-based organization that is helping provide rest and restoration to the vulnerable in Portage County through holistic healing in the name of Jesus. To donate now, click here

Copyright 2017 WOIO. All rights reserved.