Representatives for those experiencing homelessness gathered at Washington Park in Over-the-Rhine on Monday and urged city officials to continue funding measures to provide shelter during the winter.
City officials received $3.5 million from the CARES Act to aid those experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic. In April, council voted to use half a million of those dollars to keep area shelters open, with the promise of allocating the remaining dollars at a later date, WCPO reports.
According to Josh Spring of the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition, that hasn't happened yet. The money it does have could run out on Dec. 30 unless Cincinnati agrees to a contract to continue funding on Dec. 31.
"And unfortunately, as of right now, we still don't have that contract and without it coming through soon, we're looking at a Dec. 31 where potentially 200 people return to the street," Spring said.
Spring said more than 100 people have died across Cincinnati and Hamilton County this year while experiencing homelessness. At least 150 people have been moved from the outdoors to hotel rooms to protect them during the winter.
Kevin Finn, president and CEO of Strategies To End Homelessness, said 35% more people have been sleeping outside this winter compared to last year. He said they are desperate to get access to funding from the city.
"Winter is the most dangerous time for homeless people to be on the street and the pandemic is now and we really need the city to release these funds so that we can make sure that homeless people are safe through this winter," Finn said.
Finn said both the city and Hamilton County received funds. He said the county advanced funds in June for aid, while the city is still sitting on the money.