THE HOMELESS COALITION PROVIDES A SPACE FOR COLLABORATION AND INFORMATION SHARING FOR THE HOMELESS COMMUNITY AND SOCIAL SERVICE PROVIDERS. OUR COORDINATION OF SERVICES ACTIVITIES ALLOWS FOR SOCIAL SERVICE AGENCIES, ADVOCATES AND UN-HOUSED INDIVIDUALS ALIKE TO COME TOGETHER AND ADDRESS THE PROBLEMS OF HOMELESSNESS IN OUR COMMUNITY.
Below is information about our recent work collaborating with our community partners.
A Coalition is a group of people moving collectively in the same direction, working to achieve the same goals. People and organizations cannot be a Coalition without coming together and working together. Every third Thursday of the month at 1:30pm, the heart and soul of the Coalition, General Body, gathers. Throughout this past year, our Member-organizations sent representatives each month. Together we were able to discover common issues we were all facing and create collective strategies to reach solutions.
General Body served as a place to be heard, create and lead to action. We made decisions about how to restore funding and how to support social services under attack. We worked on defending the rights of Tenants, the struggle for jobs and demanding deserved opportunity for families and children facing homelessness. We strategized how to push new policies all focused on our mission to eradicate and prevent homelessness. We grew in our knowledge of how to stand together and push forward.
Over the last couple of years at the Coalition office we have noticed a significant increase in families calling or coming in seeking shelter or housing assistance. In response, we asked our member organizations if they felt the same need. Recognizing that family homelessness was on the rise, we launched an effort to produce an up to date study of family housing instability and homelessness in Hamilton County.
During the past year several committees formed to address the issue of family homelessness. Committees included represenation from the faith community, shelters, government agencies and housing advocates. Additionally, committees included academics and experts in the fields of healthcare and education. Most importantly, the voices of families experiencing homelessness or on the edge of homelessness were included.
We completed focus groups with dozens of families through-out the region and conducted interviews with area leaders. This qualitative data will be combined with quantitative demographic data we are currently collecting and in early 2012 we will release an in-depth study that accurately depicts the experiences of many families in Hamilton County. Following the public release of the study, our committees will move into a phase of policy development and recommendations for effective advocacy. We are striving for a system with more resources that helps people get back on their feet and prevents family homelessness.
For years the Cold Shelter was mandated by City Council, but funds were not allocated to it. The Health Department and Recreation Commission did the best they could with what little funds they had available. As a result, the Cold Shelter only opened at zero degrees wind-chill or lower. Several years ago we advocated and the Cold Shelter began opening at below 10 degrees wind-chill. Two years ago after the Recreation Commission ran out of money to fund the shelter, because Council would invest none, we stepped in and private dollars were given to keep it open. In 2010 with a collective group of organizations, we were able to raise enough dollars to have, for the first time, trained shelter workers, supervised by the Drop Inn Center, at the Cold Shelter. This year with this growing collective group, we raised enough support to have the Cold Shelter, now called the Winter Shelter, open for 90 nights in a row, starting December 5, 2011. No longer will people have to wonder if they can be warm at night. Cincinnati has now moved from being categorized as the largest metropolitan city with the worst response to winter in the state to representing a model of growth.