The organization that compiles yearly homeless numbers for Greater Cincinnati says we haven't seen the worst of it. The effects of the pandemic could linger into 2022.
President of Strategies to End Homelessness Kevin Finn says people don't become immediately homeless after losing their job. They may stay with friends and relatives until that is no longer an option. "We're sort of expecting that 2021 and even into 2022 is when we're going to see the worst of the economic impact of what's happening right now," he says.
How do organizations like his plan for this? Finn says if those at risk can stabilize properly for a few months they may never become homeless. Problem is, it "requires us to wait until people are already on the streets before we can line up resources," he says.
He worries about people, especially during the cold weather and limited indoor facilities. Libraries have restrictions with COVID and some soup kitchens aren't open.
New Facilities Coming Soon
Maslow's Army is providing two buses - one donated by the late Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune - to serve as warming units. Late Monday afternoon they were on Fountain Square handing out gloves, scarves and blankets to those who needed them.
Co-founder Samuel Landis is also working to open the old Queensgate Jail as a day center for people experiencing homelessness. "We are targeted to open on or before December 15, allowing individuals to come in 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. He estimates 200-300 people could be served daily with social distancing.
More Options For Northern Kentuckians
Plans are falling into place just in time for the Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky. Executive Director Kim Webb saw the number of beds go from 91 to 22 because of COVID and, like others, was looking for solutions. That's when she got a call from Campbell County offering a building on the Newport detention center campus which can sleep 50. The county will even do laundry and provide breakfast and dinner.
"I went over and looked at the facility and it is just fantastic," Webb says. "It is truly what we would call #ShelterMagic!"
The Newport facility can hold about 50 people and will be open in the evening. During the day, residents will stay at the Emergency Center of Northern Kentucky. The organization is building a new shelter and it will be open in the fall of 2021.