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Baltimore nonprofit puts homeless family in hotel for Christmas, looking for permanent housing

Posted at 6:25 PM, Dec 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-24 18:35:20-05

BALTIMORE (WMAR) — It started with a request for warm blankets and turned into a multi-week stay in a hotel for one homeless family in Baltimore City, but they still need a lot of help.

"We're just struggling," said Cierra Stern.

Cierra and her parents Mark and Doris have been homeless for 6 months.

"We were just laying out in the street. Laying out in peoples backyards," said Stern.

A few weeks ago, they met Jill Franquelli and Colleen Rippey, who distribute lunches weekly with their nonprofit Love and Lunches.

"We have these great cold weather kits and everyone has my cell phone number and I said, 'If it gets cold one night, we can come and meet you with these items,' and last Friday, we got that call," said Franquelli.

It was Mark. They needed blankets. As she was headed over, another call came, that they were nominated and chosen to get a $500 donation.

"In my head, I was like, 'This is their money'. So we showed up and said we are gonna put you in a hotel room and it just snowballed from there," said Franquelli.

She made a Facebook post and was able to raise enough to keep them in a hotel for a few weeks.

"Jill got a bunch of clothes from Target and food," said Rippey.

They also have a group trying to find them permanent housing.

"Because this is a temporary solution, right, we cant keep them in a hotel forever. They need a home," said Franquelli.

In the last 24 hours, the situation has gotten even more dire. Doris is disabled after a stroke 10 years ago.

"Last night she fell out the wheel chair. She hit her knee and her head," said Stern.

Now she is at the hospital. They are hoping the community will step up and help so she has a place to recover.

"People who have the know-how to navigate the housing system, who can help us figure out how to get them help," said Franquelli.

They know the support is out there. Two years ago, they were able to help a blind gentleman off the streets.

"He just hit a rough spot and it was the same way; we did a post and Ronnie has not been on the streets since then, so it’s been great to see that. We are so hopeful that this same ending will happen for Mark and Cierra and Doris," said Franquelli.

"We appreciate a lot. If it weren’t for her, we wouldn’t be here, trying to get a house. We barely probably wouldn’t be eating," said Stern.

If you would like to donate or help in the search for housing, you can reach them at