Shelters do what they can to help people experiencing homelessness. But they say money is about to run out
COVID funding for 80 people experiencing homelessness expires in a month. There are some other options, but one local advocate says look for more people to be on the streets later this year.
James Jones and 80 other unhoused Cincinnatians are in motel rooms until March. That’s when funding runs out to keep them there. Jones is glad he’s out of the snow and ice and wonders where he will go next.
He told WVXU he hit rock bottom some months ago. “My life is OK but there’s been a lot of drama and a lot of stuff got me to where I am.”
After March, he will either be back on the street or helped by one of the other programs President of Strategies to End Homelessness Kevin Finn describes.
“Shelterhouse has opened up its basement as a winter shelter space. And they're accommodating an additional 100 to 200 people in their building as well, to try to make sure that everyone who needs to get in from out of the cold can do so during the winter,” he says.
This is in addition to the 750 shelter beds Hamilton County has open year-round. But Finn worries about the future because he says there still isn’t enough affordable housing.
At the end of 2020, Finn told WVXU he was concerned 2022 might be one of the worst years for homelessness.
But he has changed that thinking — temporarily. “We have not yet seen a big increase in homelessness because of those COVID dollars that are available to help people not get evicted and different things like that," he says. "But these dollars are going to expire fairly soon and there’s a good chance we’re going to see a significant increase in the number of people on the streets and in shelters."
Finn says the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church and Talbert House are also helping pay for the motel rooms.