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Single moms look to room with other single moms as several shelters across Tampa Bay are at capacity

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Posted at 5:27 PM, May 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-22 09:29:29-04

Several shelters across Tampa Bay are at capacity, and it's leaving people, like Camie Larken, with nowhere to turn.

“Every day, we're a step closer to not having somewhere to go," explained Larken, who is a single mom of three.

“I have two small businesses, I do woodworking and I'm also a personal shopper," Larken added.

And still, she lies awake at night dreading what she says could soon be her reality.

“We're gonna be homeless, literally. Airbnb's, hotels if I can afford them," Larken said.

Larken said just three years ago she was paying $900 for a home. Now, she said it’s difficult finding anything under $2,000.

“You're charging $2,000 for a home that literally has a health department notice on the front door. But people are getting away with it. They are literally getting away with it because there's so many people, not just moms, that are so desperate to not be on the streets," Larken explained.

It was in desperation that made Larken reach out to Facebook for help as she posted the following message to a mom group she belongs to:

"I'm a single mom of 3 (2 with significant health issues) and was told they are selling the house we live in… anyone have any advice or ideas?"

Larken is among several other Tampa Bay area moms reaching out for help.

“I reached out on Facebook because I was just, I knew that I was in a desperate situation," Wanda Landin said.

Landin posted a similar message to the same Facebook group.

"Hello, fellow moms… I just want to know if there’s any single moms like me struggling right now and might be looking for a roommate… I definitely can’t afford this new rent on my own."

“A lot of what does keep me up at night …. It's just wondering if, what am I going to have to sacrifice at this point to just keep us afloat? Am I going to have a roof over our heads and maybe not eat as we should? Or the reverse?" Landin added.

Landin works in customer service for a call center and said being a single parent has never been harder.

“I honestly found myself in a situation thinking that I was going to be sleeping in my car with my daughter... I would cry myself to sleep … it makes you feel almost impotent that you can’t do anything for your own child. You know you’re a parent and the fact that you can’t do anything for your child. It’s just, it’s very disheartening," Landin said.

After reaching out to multiple agencies Landin’s Facebook post led her to another single mom looking for a roommate.

“I feel like having a second mom, in my situation its going to be extremely helpful not just financially but because we can tackle the kids together. You know, so I feel like even though it's not ideal, I think it's something that I could get accustomed to because I have help, you know, you have help around the house you have help, you know, rearing the children," Landin explained.

But it’s a temporary fix as both moms told ABC Action News they’re in survival mode.

"I don't want to get emotional but like I really do, like, feel like I'm failing at times because I just don't feel like we're set up right now for single parents to, you know, to succeed. Honestly, I really feel like nobody is hearing us. And I feel like that's why I would do this because even if it doesn't help me if it just helps one person, like anyone. Because I know that there's moms that are homeless right now. That have jobs, busting their butt but there still homeless right now," Larken explained.

Larken is still looking for another single mom to room with or an affordable place to call home.

“I've called shelters. I've called women's resource centers. I mean, I've literally called 211, I've done everything. And this isn't just now, this has been going on for a year I've been looking actively," Larken added.

We reached out to multiple shelters across the Tampa Bay area, like Dawning Family Services, and they’re on a waitlist.

“We’re having to help people that wouldn’t typically come to us before," Claudia Gunns with Metropolitan Ministries said.

Metropolitan Ministries said it’s shelter is full but they have food, clothing and counseling available.

“Reach out to local churches. They have connections we have connections as well. Allow us to be your advocate for you so we can help provide you with services," Gunns said.

As of Friday The R.O.P.E. Center in Hudson has several rooms available in its shelter.

Tampa Jewish Family Services said it has emergency financial assistance and referrals available, along with a food bank.

Here are a few links for Tampa Bay area residents who need assistance: