What poverty looks like for Cincinnati families

For nine months, the Enquirer followed a local family living, working and struggling in the heart of Greater Cincinnati. Just one family of the hundreds at risk, or experiencing homelessness. Read more about April and her family. Our thanks to the Enquirer for this special story putting a real face to the issue of homelessness. Prevention programs are designed to help families like April’s, but largely go unfunded.

544 Families slept on the streets or in an emergency shelter in 2018

Families at risk or in need of shelter call our Central Access Point (CAP) Helpline, and are screened for placement into an emergency shelter or into Shelter Diversion services. Through this process, in 2018, 544 families were provided with emergency shelter by Hamilton County’s four family shelter operators. And an additional 243 families were provided with a prevention program, specifically Shelter Diversion services.

What is Shelter Diversion?

Diversion is a strategy that helps people experiencing a housing crisis quickly identify and access safe alternatives to emergency shelter. Including connecting to community resources and family supports. Providing placement services and flexible financial assistance. Like rent, deposit, or utility payments.

Why is Shelter Diversion important?

It can prevent families from entering homelessness and reduce the number of people on shelter wait lists. Our CAP Helpline data shows that of the families that reached out for assistance, 8% were placed into Shelter Diversion services. And 17% were placed into an emergency shelter, and 56% were turned away without any assistance. Clearly, there are many more families in need in our community that would have entered services if space had been available for them.

Prevention programs are the most cost-effective and have the best outcomes…

The most cost-effective intervention available for reducing homelessness is Shelter Diversion. Costing $1,250 per person to keep someone from becoming homeless, compared with $3,900 per person to assist after they are homeless.

And Shelter Diversion has the best outcomes (with 15% of those served becoming homeless within 24 months, compared to 33% of those who enter emergency shelter, or 22% of those who were served in a supportive housing program).

Shelter Diversion services are a perfect example of how the resources available don’t necessarily align with interventions that can have the greatest impact.

But prevention programs largely go unfunded

However, the biggest problem with adequately funding homelessness prevention services is that the largest funder of services for people who are homeless largely does not allow its funding to go toward homelessness prevention activities.

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The post What poverty looks like for Cincinnati families appeared first on Strategies to End Homelessness.

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