HERMISTON, Ore.-- A new homeless shelter in Hermiston is helping families get back on their feet without separating them.
The shelter said keeping families together makes a big difference in breaking the cycle of homelessness.
The new family shelter, Martha's House, just opened this spring. Its mission is to give families a way out of homelessness together.
Studies show that nationwide, housing for homeless families is decreasing.
Martha's house hopes to turn that around for families in need in northeastern Oregon.
"Most of them couch surf. Some of them are out in their car but you'd be surprised at how many families there are out there that don't really have a home to call their own," said Jodene Hughes, Martha's House Director.
"We completely lost hope and literally had nowhere to go. Having somewhere to go just raises your spirits and give you so much hope," said Tiah Estabrook who lives at Martha's House.
Tiah Estabrook works full-time, but the wages aren't enough to even cover the bills for health problem she and her daughter are dealing with.
She's found her home at Martha's House and is relieved Hermiston now has a family shelter.
"It's a big thing to have something like this in a small town like Hermiston. It's up and coming. We're not living in Portland where there are a lot of facilities. This is the only thing in Hermiston for people to come to," Estabrook said.
Hughes said keeping families together increases their chances of becoming independent again.
"Keeping them as one is important if they're going to be successful. If they're torn apart they're not going to be focusing on what they need to focus on to help get them our of the place they're in," Hughes said.
The school district also finds kids at school who are coping with homelessness and Hughes said she was touched by the words of one little boy that highlight the need for a family shelter.
"I don't want to live in a car. I want to have a house. She said it broke her heart and so when she found out we were opening a shelter she was thrilled," Hughes said.
There are three families living in the new shelter currently and they hope to have the facility prepared to house 18 families by the end of the year.
For more information on how you can donate to the shelter go to their website.