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Bethany House Services Seeks $16.5M To Construct New Homeless Shelter

Bethany House Services (screenshot from Dec. 8, 2020 Zoom meeting)

As COVID-19 continues to impact the country’s homeless population, Cincinnati could see construction begin on a new homeless shelter in February.

Bethany House Services is announcing plans to build a $16.5 million shelter that will replace the seven homes it's currently using. The seven locations are described as "decentralized" and "aging." On top of being expensive to maintain, the shelters are at max capacity.

Credit Bethany House Services (screenshot from Dec. 8, 2020 Zoom meeting)
Bethany House Services (screenshot from Dec. 8, 2020 Zoom meeting)

Board Member Albert Smitherman said the facilities weren’t designed to be shelters, and the solution is consolidating them into one.

"Our new building is designed for families," Smitherman said. "It's been designed to reduce the trauma that impacts homeless families. It will promote education, security, and healing."

CEO Susan Schiller said Bethany House serves more than 2,500 people each year. Three fourths of those people are children.

"Our children at Bethany House bear the brunt of homelessness," Schiller said. "Homelessness affects every aspect of their life, their health, their education, their cognitive, social, and emotional development."

Board of Directors Chair Carolyn Washburn said the new shelter will be able to hold an additional 100 families per year.

"By expanding and deepening services and reducing the length of stay in the shelter will increase long-term stability, reduce dependence on emergency services, and help break the cycle of generational homelessness," Washburn said.

Data shows that in 2019, only one in four families that called the homeless shelter hotline received shelter.

So far, $10 million has been raised for the project and the nonprofit hopes to raise the remainder through donations. The new facility will be at the corner of Reading Road and Joseph Street in Bond Hill.

Cory Sharber attended Murray State University majoring in journalism and political science and comes to Cincinnati Public Radio from NPR Member station WKMS.