Maslow's Army: Group that helps homeless needs new location by month's end

CINCINNATI -- A local nonprofit that works to help people experiencing homelessness soon will be homeless itself unless it can find a new location for its weekly outreach activities.

Samuel Landis, the president and co-founder of Maslow’s Army, told the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners on Monday that his organization must find a new location before Sept. 2.

For the past 82 weeks, Maslow’s Army volunteers have gathered from noon to 2 p.m. each Sunday to distribute pizza, drinks and fruit to people experiencing homelessness or poverty.

For more than a year, the group conducted its outreach on or near Fountain Square. But other events on the square required the group to move several times throughout the summer.

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Maslow’s Army has been back on Fountain Square for several weeks but won’t be able to operate there anymore at the end of this month, Landis said.

“On Sunday, Sept. 2, we are officially homeless,” Landis told county commissioners.

Landis assured commissioners that Maslow’s Army has liability insurance and asked them to help speed up the hunt for a new, permanent location.

“We also are looking for a space that is nonprogrammable, one that can provide safety and security” for the many volunteers that help Maslow’s Army each week, he said. “I like to quote my wife: ‘Maslow’s Army is more than just a change of clothes. We’re a change in life.’”

Hamilton County Commission President Todd Portune thanked Landis and his wife, Susan Landis, for the work their organization does and said the county would continue to work to be helpful in identifying a new, more permanent location.

Samuel Landis, left, talks with Hamilton County commissioners on Aug. 13, 2018. (Michael Benedic | WCPO)

Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Robert Ruehlman last week issued an order that bans homeless encampments on public property throughout Hamilton County as long as local shelters have space available.

But, despite the ban, Maslow’s Army wants to continue its weekly outreach in downtown Cincinnati, Samuel Landis told WCPO after he spoke with commissioners.

“We still work with individuals in shelters,” he said. “They like to engage in a community outreach like what Maslow’s Army is providing. They like to feel part of a community.”

More information about Maslow’s Army can be found on the organization’s website and its Facebook page.

Lucy May writes about the people, places and issues that define our region – to celebrate what makes the Tri-State great and shine a spotlight on issues we need to address. Poverty is an important focus for her and for WCPO. To read more stories about poverty, go to www.wcpo.com/poverty.

To read more stories by Lucy, go to www.wcpo.com/may. To reach her, email lucy.may@wcpo.com. Follow her on Twitter @LucyMayCincy.

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