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Commission approves $2 million for homelessness prevention in Hamilton County

Hamilton County Board of Commissioners, from left: Stephanie Summerow Dumas, President Alicia Reece, and Vice President Denise Driehaus.
Becca Costello
Hamilton County Board of Commissioners, from left: Stephanie Summerow Dumas, President Alicia Reece, and Vice President Denise Driehaus.

Hamilton County Commissioners voted Thursday to approve nearly $2 million for homelessness prevention.

The funding comes from federal stimulus through the American Rescue Plan Act. It will be disbursed throughout the county as grants, and administered through Strategies to End Homelessness.

The organization's President Kevin Finn says most funding is only available for people already unsheltered on the street.

"You can't even help somebody who's lost their housing and is sleeping on a friend's couch because the Department of Housing and Urban Development doesn't consider that person homeless," Finn said. "So what's nice about any funding for prevention is that we're allowed to engage with people either right before they become homeless, or significantly upstream from when they experience homelessness."

RELATED: $5M grant gives a boost to area homelessness prevention agency

Finn says the grant application will be open by the end of next month. He and county officials are hoping to fund new and innovative ideas to improve housing security and prevent homelessness.

"We're really looking for organizations that are on the front line of working with the homeless, to think about what have we always wanted to do to keep people from having to come into our shelters or from ending up on the street? What have we always wanted to do but never had the resources to do?"

RELATED: New shelters for families experiencing homelessness are opening.

Hamilton County will get about $158 million from ARPA, spending about $32 million immediately to replace lost revenue, plus several short-term programs for small businesses, nonprofit assistance, vaccine incentives, and mortgage and utility assistance.

Commissioners opted to hire a consultant to help determine how the roughly $64 million left should be spent in order to have the greatest impact.

That plan includes:

  • $6 million for public health infrastructure
  • $8 million for mental and behavioral health
  • $35.5 million for affordable housing production and preservation
  • $5 million for homelessness prevention ($3 million of which already went to Strategies to End Homelessness for a diversion shelter)
  • $9.5 million for workforce development and youth employment

Commissioners approved several other contracts this week for distributing American Rescue Plan Act dollars. Many others are still under negotiation.

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.