Budget cuts became a reality on Thursday for those staying at Clare House, an Anchorage shelter for homeless women and children.

Clare House is operated by Catholic Social Services. CSS Communications Director Tricia Teasley said a 22% reduction in state funding led to the loss of three staffing positions at the shelter.

As a result, Teasley said, the only way to keep the shelter open at night was to close its doors for part of the day.

Shana Montgomery with her baby Genesis, who is two and a half weeks old. (John Thain / KTVA)

At 9 a.m. Thursday, women and children were packed up and ready to go, including Shana Montgomery, whose baby was born less than three weeks ago.

Montgomery, who came to the shelter in February when she was pregnant and newly sober, said she didn’t feel comfortable taking her newborn for a ride on a city bus, especially when she didn’t have a destination in mind.

“Women and children are vulnerable, especially to be pushed out onto the streets,” Montgomery said, breaking into tears as she waited for a city bus.

But according to Teasley, Montgomery wasn’t alone in having to find a place to spend the hours between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Teasley said on any given night there are 80 to 100 women and their children at the shelter, including infants.

“We have 12 little babies,” she said. “There's a baby just weeks old and yesterday I saw a mom with a kiddo that just had a baby like four days ago, so there’s like 12 infants — 12 infants here.”

CSS has put out an urgent call for volunteers to help them keep the shelter open during the day.

Teasley said the three-hour shifts run from 9 a.m.–12 p.m. or 12 p.m.–3 p.m. adding it would be helpful if people could commit for a period of time.

Duties include answering the phone, signing off on chores, helping in the kitchen and interacting with moms and children in the program.

Volunteer applications are available on the CSS website. You can also contact CSS Human Resource Director Brigette Guzy at 907-222-7350 for more information.

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