Mother of 5 displaced after house fire, now living out of her car

Family sleeping in car after fire destroys their Evanston home

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Two weeks ago, Tawanna Terrell’s Evanston home went up in flames. Now, without anywhere else to go, she and her five children—aged 11-months to 11-years old—are sleeping in a car.

The ordeal began, she says, with a blown circuit in Terrell’s house on Jonathan Avenue. She told her kids to flip the switch on the fuse box. A light began flickering on the house’s second floor. An hour later, a blaze had burned the home through, and the family of six couldn’t stay there anymore.

The Red Cross put Terrell and her children up for three days. Afterwards, they checked the shelters, but Terrell says they were full.

“I tried 381-SAFE, they connect you to all the shelters,” Terrell told FOX19 NOW. “St. Vincent DePaul, Salvation Army, Food Bank… I’ve tried everything, and everyone is turning us down.”

That is how she and her children found their way back to Jonathan Avenue again, not to return to their former home, but to make a home on the curb, sleeping in Terrell’s car.

“I just try to keep gas in my car so I can run the heat,” she said.

It’s not the best situation, but Terrell knows there are people out there who have it worse, and that’s the message she’s conveying to her children.

“There are some people that don't even have a car,” Terrell said. “So as long as we have a roof over our head, heat, we gonna make it.”

FOX19 NOW spoke with Maslow’s Army. They say Terrell’s situation isn’t unusual, as family homelessness is on the rise.

As for Terrell, she says she’ll keep trying to get into a shelter. Until then, it’s home sweet home in her car with her children.

If you’d like to help, you can donate to Terrell’s GoFundMe page.

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