As single-digit temperatures return, officials concerned about continued need with two months of winter left

CINCINNATI, OH – January 22, 2014 – Hamilton County’s shelters do not have the capacity to serve everyone in need during the coldest months of the winter when the demand for shelter is highest.  For the last two years, Strategies to End Homelessness, the Drop Inn Center, Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, and the Metropolitan Area Religious Coalition of Cincinnati have partnered to add seasonal Winter Shelter capacity to the local shelter system, and ensure that all homeless people have a safe, warm place to sleep from December through February.

While the initial funding to open the Winter Shelter has been raised, additional funding is needed to help sustain consistent seasonal shelter capacity from year to year.

“The majority of our funding did not come in until December and we need to increase sustainability of these life-saving services from year to year,” said Kevin Finn, president and CEO of Strategies to End Homelessness.  “We want to be prepared in case we need to stay open into March or open earlier next year if it gets cold,” said Finn.

Last winter, the Winter Shelter served more than 600 different people. This shelter capacity is provided in two locations: the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church on Race Street, and within an additional section of the Drop Inn Center facility on 12th Street. With as many as 160 people sheltered on any given night at a cost of less than $1000 per night, this Winter Shelter is a very cost effective way to protect our community’s most vulnerable homeless citizens.

“The Winter Shelter’s first priority is to serve people who otherwise would be sleeping outside,” said Finn. “Bitter cold temperatures present an opportunity to bring chronically homeless people into shelter, where they can be connected to services that could go well beyond just keeping them from freezing, and actually help them out of homelessness,” he added.

Prior to 2011, seasonal shelter was provided to homeless people in an unreliable way, only on nights when the temperature dipped below 10 degrees Fahrenheit.  In 2011, Strategies to End Homelessness, the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition and their partners moved to replace this haphazard system so that seasonal Winter Shelter would be reliable and adequate, and would also provide the services necessary to assist people out of homelessness, as opposed to warehousing them in homelessness.

Donations to support the Winter Shelter can be made to Strategies to End Homelessness by visiting www.strategiestoendhomelessness.org/donate, or calling 513.263.2780.

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