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Our Take on “The Public”

The Public Film Kevin Finn, President/CEO, Strategies to End Homelessness

This weekend the movie, The Public, opened in theaters across the country and here in Cincinnati. The movie was filmed and set in Cincinnati. And tells a fictional story of the takeover of the downtown library by a group of homeless men during a brutal stretch of cold weather.

I’ve been working on issues related to homelessness locally for 21 years. So when I learned the movie was going to be made, I was concerned that the way people experiencing homelessness would be portrayed. That it would lead viewers to be less sympathetic, less concerned about the well-being of our homeless neighbors.

I was however encouraged when contacted by Emilio Estevez, the writer and director, for input on how to make this fictional work as realistic as possible. After providing some input, and two years later viewing the final product, I am satisfied with how The Public depicts those experiencing homelessness. And quite frankly I really like the movie, but that does not mean it was entirely accurate in how it represented the issue of homelessness.

Providing shelter in winter for the homeless

First and foremost, I have to point out the difference between the fictional situation portrayed in the movie (in which homeless shelter beds were all full or inaccessible) versus the local reality. In Greater Cincinnati, several organizations practically lift heaven and earth to make sure there are emergency shelter beds available for those who want one when it is bitter cold.

Specifically, Shelterhouse (which we help raise the funds needed to provide WinterShelter.org) the Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky, and Price of Peace Lutheran Church go to great lengths to make sure there are warm beds available and accessible when temperatures drop.

Who is homeless in Cincinnati?

It is also important to understand that the characters in the movie are most representative of a certain sub-set of people experiencing homelessness, not of all homeless people. In the movie, the homeless people in the library are almost entirely male, and those who take control of a section of the library are all men.

In reality, our total homeless population (in shelter and unsheltered) in Hamilton County is about 40% female and 60% male. Now, when you look closer at only those people sleeping specifically on the streets, the group specifically portrayed in the movie, they are in fact more likely to be men. However, even among that population, about 70% are male and 30% female. Clearly women experiencing homelessness, and the unique challenges they face, are minimally represented in the film.

A word regarding one myth of homelessness that the movie touches upon, and also regarding something that is not well understood about homelessness that The Public does not attempt to address:

A common myth

The common myth is that most homeless people are in fact sleeping on the streets. In reality, 86% of people experiencing homelessness in Hamilton County sleep in a homeless shelter exclusively. Another 7% go back and forth between the streets and shelters, and the remaining 7% sleep exclusively on the streets or in places not meant for human habitation. Nationally, about 34% of homeless people are on the streets.

I mention this to highlight the exceptional work of our emergency shelter operators, who work not just during the winter but year-round to help people off of the streets, where they are more likely to encounter harm. Contrary to what a viewer might assume to be true about Cincinnati from watching the movie, we have fewer people sleeping unsheltered locally than most communities across the country.

A true reality: the number of homeless families and children is on the rise

What is not well understood about homelessness is the number of children, particularly children in families, who are homeless. It is regularly assumed that homeless people are in fact on the streets and that children are not homeless. It might surprise you to learn that in 2017 we had 72% more homeless children in Hamilton County (1,692) than we had people sleeping outside on the streets (979).

In short, a group of homeless people the general public assumes does not exist actually massively outnumber a group the general public assumes make up the majority of the homeless population. Unfortunately the number of homeless families and therefore children is on the rise.

The thing I am most pleasantly surprised by in The Public is the use of humor. I know that I speak for many who have experienced homelessness and those who go to work each day trying to end homelessness, when I say that humor is simply a part of the equation.

If a person can’t find a way to laugh at some of the ridiculous turns of bad luck or random bad circumstances that led to a person becoming homeless, they won’t be able to weather the storm. Or in the case of professionals working in the field, won’t be able to keep working on this issue for long.

Sometimes you have to be able to laugh at a situation before you can get to work changing it. And I thought The Public captured that reality very accurately.

Our thanks

I’m very encouraged by the attention the movie is bringing to the issue of homelessness, particularly in Cincinnati. And for that we are very grateful to everyone involved in making the film, particularly Mr. Estevez.

The post Our Take on “The Public” appeared first on Strategies to End Homelessness.

Click to visit original source at Strategies to End Homelessness (.org)

The Public

An act of civil disobedience turns into a standoff with police when homeless people in Cincinnati take over the public library to seek shelter from the bitter cold. So begins The Public starring, written and directed by Emilio Estevez.

An unusually bitter Arctic blast has made its way to downtown Cincinnati and the front doors of the library where the action of the film takes place. At odds with library officials over how to handle the extreme weather event, some homeless patrons turn the building into a shelter for the night by staging an “Occupy” sit in.

What begins as an act of civil disobedience becomes a stand-off with police and a rush-to-judgment media constantly speculating about what’s really happening. This David versus Goliath story tackles some of our nation’s most challenging issues, homelessness and mental illness and sets the drama inside one of the last bastions of democracy-in-action: your public library.

Watch the trailer now, and follow The Public on Facebook or Twitter






The post The Public appeared first on Strategies to End Homelessness.

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Launch of New, Innovative Plan to End Youth Homelessness in Cincinnati

Young People Who Experienced Homelessness Participated in All Planning and Decision-Making

Strategies to End Homelessness, in partnership with Lighthouse Youth & Family Services, the Family Housing Partnership, and Children’s Law Center is proud to announce the launch of the KEYS to a Future Without Youth Homelessness plan. The Family Housing Partnership includes Bethany House Services, Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Cincinnati, The Salvation Army, and YWCA Greater Cincinnati.

Lighthouse is the lead agency for KEYS, a community effort to create an innovative system that ensures all young people ages 18-24 have access to safe, affordable, and stable housing. The KEYS plan was developed after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) selected Cincinnati/Hamilton County in January 2017 to receive $3.8 million in funding for HUD’s Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program. Strategies to End Homelessness and Lighthouse worked with a broad array of partners to create the plan, relying specifically on the ideas and recommendations provided by young people who experienced homelessness. HUD approved the plan in January 2018.

Read the KEYS Plan 

“We are proud to have strong leaders in our community already serving this population, but with this new funding, we are thrilled to be able to push the boundaries of how the system responds as a whole to the unique needs of youth experiencing homelessness,” said Kevin Finn, President and CEO, Strategies to End Homelessness.

Since the beginning of the process to design and implement the KEYS plan, youth and young adults with lived experiences of homelessness have been treated as the experts and involved in planning and decision-making.

“Not a decision was made without young people being at the table saying, ‘This is what we think will work for us’,’” said Bonita Campbell, Vice President of Homeless Youth Services at Lighthouse. “It has been really important as well as rewarding to work with them throughout this entire process. They said what they wish could have been different and what would have helped them along the way to end their homelessness more quickly. Their voices drove every aspect of the plan.”

 The KEYS plan is designed to

  • Reduce the percentage of young people who become homeless by over 50% by 2020
  • Reduce the average length of homeless episodes from 38 days to 21 days by 2020
  • Increase the percentage of young people who become permanently housed after leaving shelter to 80% by 2020

The KEYS plan is about redesigning the current system, maximizing our community’s assets, and closing the gaps in service. The goal is to have a system that is easy to navigate for young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

“A staff attorney from the Children’s Law Center will work with partner agencies, as a member of the KEYS team, seeking to remove legal barriers to sustainable housing. The attorney will be based out of the Lighthouse Sheakley Center for Youth two-three days a week and will provide direct representation, counsel and advice, and educational sessions.” Said Acena Beck, Executive Director, Children’s Law Center

The Family Housing Partnership brings its expertise serving parents and children to the KEYS project. “We have served youth parents for a long time,” said Sarah Wagner, Director of Social Ministries at the Salvation Army. “We are excited to bring that experience to this partnership with Lighthouse and the KEYS project. We are ready to make homelessness something rare, something that doesn’t have to happen for young people taking on the role of parenting.”

One of the biggest innovations to come out of the KEYS plan is the creation of a Youth Dedicated Services Team. The team of case managers will work with young people one-on-one for up to 24 months to help connect them with whatever services they need and try to ensure they never become homeless again.

“Having multiple case managers to talk to can be so overwhelming. One caseworker knows this, the other knows this,” said Arianna Jones, President of the Lighthouse Youth Advisory Council. “My situation happened almost three years ago, and me talking about it every time, I feel that pain all over again.”

View the Data Dashboard

There is also a Data Dashboard that tracks how many young people are experiencing homelessness, how long they are homeless, and whether they become homeless again. The process of reviewing the public dashboard will facilitate an unprecedented level of impact, change, and accountability.

About our KEYS Plan Partners

Lighthouse Youth & Family Services

Mission: Empower young people and families to succeed through a continuum of care that promotes healing and growth

Vision: To be the leader in creating a community where every young person has the opportunity to thrive

Lighthouse Youth & Family Services is dedicated to providing the best services and compassionate care to children, youth, and families. The nonprofit agency serves ages 0-24 and is a nationally recognized innovator in services for young people and families in crisis, young people experiencing homelessness, and youth involved with the juvenile justice system. Lighthouse provides emergency shelter, early childhood intervention, education and life skills training, foster care and adoption, youth housing, residential treatment, community juvenile justice services, and mental health services. All Lighthouse services are trauma-informed, strength-based, and fully accredited and licensed. www.lys.org.

The Family Housing Partnership

The Family Housing Partnership (FHP) comprised of Bethany House Services, Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Cincinnati, The Salvation Army, and YWCA Greater Cincinnati is a 19-year collaborative formed to address the unique needs of families across the existing family shelters. FHP is specifically committed to maximizing financial resources, avoiding duplication, and creating best practice standards across systems of care.

Bethany House Services

Mission: Bethany House Services empowers homeless and at-risk families with the solutions to achieve housing stability and long-term self-sufficiency.

Vision: To live in a community where all families have a place to call home and no one spends a night without shelter.

Bethany House serves families in the Greater Cincinnati area at one of five shelter sites and in a variety of housing programs.  Special programming surrounds the children, matching them with quality daycare and transportation to stay in school, as well as a variety of services to heal from their trauma.  For more information, visit www.bethanyhouseservices.org

About Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Cincinnati

Mission: To provide homeless families emergency shelter and hospitality through interfaith communities and to work with families to find and retain stable housing.

Since 1991, our network has grown to include over 100 congregational partners, representing people of Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, and Unitarian faiths. Congregations provide overnight shelter and meals for homeless families in our Emergency Shelter program. IHNGC has also grown and enhanced the services offered over the years to provide wraparound support for the whole family that extends beyond Emergency Shelter. www.ihncincinnati.org

The Salvation Army of Southwest Ohio, North East Kentucky

Mission: The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination

The Salvation Army has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination for over 130 years in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky region. Nearly 30 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through the broadest array of social services that range from providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children. swo.salvationarmy.org

YWCA Greater Cincinnati Services

Mission: YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.

In support of this mission, YWCA provides community programs that further the values of peace, justice, equality, and human dignity for women and other minorities. YWCA programs empower survivors of intimate partner violence through 24-hour crisis line assistance and emergency domestic violence shelter, housing for survivors, intimate partner violence crisis intervention services, community outreach, violence prevention education, public awareness campaigns, court advocacy, and group services to confront and ultimately change attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that condone any and all forms of violence against individuals. www.ywcacincinnati.org.

Children’s Law Center

The Children’s Law Center (CLC), established in 1989, is a non-profit legal service center protecting the rights of children and youth to help them overcome barriers and transition to adulthood, better advocate for their needs, and successfully contribute to society. It provides individual legal advocacy to children and youth, and through public policy work, training and education, impact litigation, and juvenile defender support services, seeks to improve the systems that serve them. CLC offers services in both Kentucky and Ohio, and collaborates with other organizations within the region and nationally on a variety of topics. To learn more, visit www.childrenslawky.org.


Stacie Berger, Strategies to End Homelessness


Sheri Hager, Lighthouse Youth & Family Services



The post Launch of New, Innovative Plan to End Youth Homelessness in Cincinnati appeared first on Strategies to End Homelessness.

Click to visit original source at Strategies to End Homelessness (.org)

Central Access Point (CAP) Helpline

Central Access Point (CAP) Helpline (513-381-SAFE) assists community members experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness to get information about services, check for space in emergency shelters, and be placed into housing programs.

Anyone experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness can call to get information about services and check for space in shelters and other homeless programs. Trained Intake Specialists determine if the caller needs shelter immediately or if they can be referred to services that prevent homelessness.

One of the first centralized emergency shelter access systems in the nation

Before CAP launched in 2008, families had to call each shelter to see if space was available. Now, people can call one number and be connected to beds or services across multiple agencies and facilities. CAP has expanded to address the needs of families and single individuals, plus those who are homeless today and those who are at imminent risk of homelessness.

Intake Specialists can place households into three family shelters, two single men’s shelters, a single women’s shelter, a youth shelter, a transitional housing program, Supportive Services for Veterans Families, four Veteran’s Administration Grant per Diem programs and one of five Shelter Diversion programs. CAP works to identify the service that can best meet a household’s needs.

Our CAP Partners

CAP’s collaborative partners include: Bethany House Services, The Salvation Army, Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Cincinnati, The City Gospel Mission, St. Francis-St. Joseph Catholic Worker House, Lighthouse Youth & Family Services, Talbert House, the Freestore Foodbank, Santa Maria Community Services, Jewish Family Services, Volunteers of America, and Shelterhouse.

CAP also serves a critical quality improvement purpose. Using CAP data, we identify best practices, brings key findings to our community and regularly engage with partner agencies regarding eligibility criteria and client needs. Utilizing both CAP data and data from national sources improves the targeting of limited homelessness prevention resources and funding. In addition, the program supports the community’s unique street outreach efforts.

In 2016, we released the Street Reach app, which allows people in the community to become the eyes of the homeless services system, and easily report places where people are sleeping unsheltered. Then, street outreach workers are dispatched to help. When a person reports someone sleeping in a place not meant for human habitation through the Street Reach app, that report comes to CAP staff, who then send street outreach workers to offer assistance.

Homelessness is one of the most pressing local issues.

In 2017, 7,197 people either resided in a Hamilton County emergency shelter or slept in places not meant for human habitation. This number includes 1,692 children under age 18.

Reported by the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, for every age group, homeless persons are three times more likely to die than the general population. Homeless children suffer in many ways. They score significantly lower in reading, spelling, and math than economically disadvantaged children from the same classroom who live in stable housing. In addition, their health outcomes suffer.

According to the Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness, “homeless children suffer from chronic illnesses (including heart disease and neurological disorders) and acute illnesses (such as minor upper respiratory infections) at twice the rate of the general ambulatory population.” But early identification and intervention through programs like CAP can give children a new lease on life and help their families break the cycle of poverty and homelessness.

While we continue to address Family Homelessness in our community, we must sustain services like CAP which connect homeless and at-risk youth and families to the programs best suited to their particular needs.

Who does CAP serve?

The target population for CAP is people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in Hamilton County. Callers are screened to ensure they fall below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines. In 2018, CAP had 4,188 unique callers. Of these, 1,863 (44.5%) were documented as having been placed into a shelter or an appropriate program. Of those placed, 412 were families.

Almost all the callers were from Ohio and 4.5% from Northern Kentucky. 18.4% of the callers were youth between the ages of 18-24. The homeless population in Hamilton County during 2017 was 62% African American and 33% Caucasian. 24% of homeless people are children under age 18, 35% under age 25, and 54% under age 35.

The program clearly makes a difference. In part due to CAP’s efficiency to place people into shelter, only 14% of Hamilton County’s homeless citizens slept outside or on the streets in 2017. That’s down 42% since 2013 and compared to a nationwide average of 34%.

The goals of CAP are the same as our organization’s overall goals. Specifically to make homelessness brief and non-recurring, and when possible, to prevent homelessness from happening in the first place.

Who pays for the CAP service?

CAP isn’t funded by the government funding that we administer. CAP is partially funded by The United Way of Greater Cincinnati, local foundations, and our generous donors.


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Click to visit original source at Strategies to End Homelessness (.org)

New plan to reduce youth homelessness in Cincinnati, Hamilton County

Thank you to our talented media partners Lucy May and Emily Maxwell for their ongoing coverage of our community’s efforts to end homelessness in Greater Cincinnati. Our plan KEYS to a Future Without Homelessness aims to reduce youth homelessness in Cincinnati and Hamilton County by 2020. The plan is scheduled to launch March 4.

Read more

The post New plan to reduce youth homelessness in Cincinnati, Hamilton County appeared first on Strategies to End Homelessness.

Click to visit original source at Strategies to End Homelessness (.org)

Notice of FY18 ODSA HCRP RRH Funding Availability

ODSA has granted STEH funding for new RRH projects serving transitional age youth (18-24) and/or single adults.  STEH, in consultation with the Homeless Clearinghouse (the CoC Board), is inviting proposals from potential sub-recipients of this funding. The detailed terms regarding the available funding are listed in the attached Request for Proposals.

Please see the following schedule regarding notifications and submissions:

Due Date Activity
Fri, February 22, 2019 Notify STEH at rfp@end-homlessness.org and/or astewart@end-homelessness.org by 5:00 pm of intent to submit proposal.

Fri, March 1, 2019 Submit proposals to STEH by 5:00 pm at rfp@end-homlessness.org and/or astewart@end-homelessness.org  for review.

Fri, March 15, 2019 Applicants may be called to present project proposals to the Homeless Clearinghouse at its monthly meeting on 3/15/19.  Upon completion of presentations at that meeting, any person holding a voting seat on the Clearinghouse who may be employed by an agency seeking funds in this competition will vacate the meeting room, allowing for a competitive vote by the Homeless Clearinghouse on the project funding.

Please contact Amy Stewart with any questions.

Please also spread the word and share this RFP with any agencies that you believe may be interested in responding.


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Focus on Youth Homelessness: Point in Time Count

How do we know how many youth are experiencing homelessness on a given night in Cincinnati?

Point in Time Count Youth OutreachOne of the ways that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) gets an accurate count of how many people are experiencing homelessness is through a coordinated Point in Time Count. That combines a census of people sleeping in emergency shelters, transitional housing units, with a count of people sleeping in places not meant for human habitation.

What is the Point In Time Count?

Volunteers are needed to count how many people are experiencing unsheltered homelessness on a given night. They visit known homeless camps, bridges, and other public places where people are known to sleep. To this, we add the number of individuals in emergency shelter and transitional housing. This gives us a snapshot of how many people are experiencing homelessness.

However, it does not reflect the individuals sleeping in doubled up locations, couch surfing, or other risky housing situations. To get a sense of how many young people face these challenges on a given night in Cincinnati, the Lighthouse Youth Advisory Council partnered with the Youth Outreach Program and the downtown branch of the Hamilton County Public Library. Together we collected this information by surveying young people between the ages of 18-24 on their housing situation.

Ultimately, the group interacted with 54 young people between the ages of 18-24. We connected 6 to receive assistance in obtaining housing, shelter and other services. And collected contact information on 10 more youth sleeping in unstable situations. One young woman (a mother of 2) was connected to the Youth Outreach Program and through the Central Access Point. She was able to receive shelter for her family.

Learn more about how we’re working to end Youth Homelessness by 2020.

The post Focus on Youth Homelessness: Point in Time Count appeared first on Strategies to End Homelessness.

Click to visit original source at Strategies to End Homelessness (.org)

Street Reach can help homeless people escape the cold.

Colder temperatures can be deadly for those with no place to stay. Strategies to End Homelessness has created an easy way to get help if you see a person in need of shelter. 

The Street Reach app is available for Apple users.  If you do not have an Apple device, you can call and leave a message at the CAP helpline at 513-381-SAFE (7233). Leave a message with location info and it will be shared with the street outreach workers.

The post Street Reach can help homeless people escape the cold. appeared first on Hamilton County Job & Family Services.

View Original Source (HCJFS.org) Here.

Together we can end homelessness

Dear Friends,

Sleeping outside is dangerous and can even be deadly. Having a warm, safe place to sleep is critical. Joe was living on the street for months before he entered shelter. There he gained access to programs and services that change lives. Today, Joe has his own apartment.

Together we can create more success stories for more people like Joe.


At Strategies to End Homelessness we lead efforts to end homelessness in Greater Cincinnati, and having a coordinated system has led to a 42% decrease in the number of people living on the streets and a similar increase in people entering permanent housing programs.

But, you’ll agree, we have even more work to do. Even one person sleeping outside is too many. One missed paycheck. One medical emergency. Many more people are one crisis away from homelessness.

Our goal is to prevent and end homelessness. And we can’t do it without your help. Let’s work together to change more lives, like Joe’s.

Together our impact is greater. Please consider a donation today to help more neighbors in need this Holiday Season!


We hope we can count on your support!

Kevin Finn
Strategies to End Homelessness


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Click to visit original source at Strategies to End Homelessness (.org)

Cincinnati Winter Shelter Slated to Open Mid-December

The Winter Shelter, which opens each year to ensure that people experiencing homelessness can access shelter during dangerously cold temperatures, is slated to open mid-December and remain open through February. Strategies to End Homelessness is working to raise the remaining funds needed. Citizens who wish to help are encouraged to visit www.WinterShelter.org.

Operated by Shelterhouse and housed within the David and Rebecca Barron Center for Men, located at 411 Gest Street, the winter shelter serves both men and women. There, Shelterhouse can serve up to 200 homeless people per night over and above Hamilton County’s 675 year-round shelter beds. This seasonal shelter capacity allows the homeless services system to shelter everyone in need during the coldest months of the year and give access to life-changing programs and services to exit homelessness.

Said Kevin Finn, President & CEO, “We’ve secured most of the funding needed to staff and operate the winter shelter through February. We’re now turning to our generous citizens for their support.” The winter shelter is funded in part by the City of Cincinnati, Hamilton County, and local foundations, including The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation, and made possible with the support of the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition.

  • Last year (December 2017 – February 2018) winter shelter was open 76 nights, served 733 people, for a total of 8,354 bed nights
  • In Greater Cincinnati, currently 7,197 people are experiencing homelessness – either living in a shelter or on the streets.
  • The Greater Cincinnati homeless services community serves nearly 13,000 people annually (including supportive housing and other programs)

Kevin Finn, President & CEO, Strategies to End Homelessness, is available for comment, questions, or an interview kfinn@end-homelessness.org

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Click to visit original source at Strategies to End Homelessness (.org)

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