‘If my kids can’t brighten up my day what am I living for,’ Mom and six kids separated after being kicked out of shelter

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A family is being evicted and they are now going to be separated right before the holidays.

Tiffeny Harden, a single mother, is fighting to keep her and her six young children under the same roof. Harden said she had been living at the New Promise Center a little more than two months and have now had to relocate.

Tiffeny said she had no idea the South Side Mission Women’s and Children shelter was closing and putting people out until she saw it on the news.

Packing and unpacking, living out of trash bags and backpacks, moving from one shelter to another have been the new normal the last 12 months for Harden her six young children.

“I feel like it caused a bit of a rift between me and my oldest girl. I feel like she doesn’t take me for my word anymore,” she said.

Harden said she’s been out of a job since August. Earlier this year, after their first shelter, she said she told her children–ages 3, 4, 6, 7, 10, and 12, they wouldn’t have to live in a shelter anymore.

“This year just hasn’t been that good for us at all,” Harden said. “This would be the fourth shelter this year that we’ve been in.”

Unable to keep a stable roof over her family’s head she said she turned to her third shelter in September– The Southside Mission. She said she thought the NPC would be the last push she needed to get back on her feet.

South Side Mission Development Manager Rich Draeger said the need for a women’s shelter has been in decline over the years.

“There is never a perfect scenario for something like this,” he said. “And if anybody was caught off guard by that we are sorry about that and that was never our intent but the reality is when the decision was made we thought it was in the best interest of the organization to move as quickly as we could.”

Draeger said that tough decision forced 11 people to find shelters in only seven days. In a previous interview, Executive Director Rev. Craig Williams told WMBD, the center wanted to make sure the women and children had a soft landing. Williams said the women were able to ultizie their partner agencies like the Salvation Army and the Dream Center.

Harden said that wasn’t enough time to find a suitable shelter that had availability for seven people.

Now, she said she is forced to split her family up.

“I love my kids like I am a big kid with my kids. If my kids can’t brighten up my day what am I living for,” she said.

Despite her hardships, Harden said “Even though I don’t have a place to lay my head, that’s mine. I still have a place to lay my head, even though I don’t have a fridge of my own to put my food in, I still have food.”

Draeger said they don’t have solidified plans for the NPC building but will continue to serve the 61605 area code.

Harden said she and three of her children will be staying at Esther House for 45 days while her other three children will be staying with a family member.

If you wish to help Tiffeny, you can donate here.

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