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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