CINCINNATI — The region’s largest family homeless shelter operator on Tuesday launched a campaign to raise nearly $4 million before the end of this year.
Bethany House Services must raise a total of $16.5 million for a new consolidated facility to replace the seven different buildings where the nonprofit shelters families experiencing homelessness.
The nonprofit already has raised more than $10 million for the new facility in Bond Hill, said CEO Susan Schiller.
If Bethany House can raise an additional $3.75 million by the end of 2020, the project could get $2.5 million in New Markets Tax Credits from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
“If we are not able to reach the entire goal immediately, what we will be doing is the project in phases, which we know will be more expensive,” Schiller said during a Zoom news conference Tuesday. “We don’t want to do that. But we also don’t want to wait to start.”
That’s because the number of Tri-State families experiencing homelessness continues to grow, and the organizations that work to help them can’t keep up with the need, Schiller said.
Consider: 1,700 families experiencing homelessness called the regional hotline for assistance in 2019 – a 20% increase over 2018 -- and only about one in four of the families that called last year got help, said Carolyn Washburn, Bethany House’s board chair.
“The need continues to grow in our community caused by a high family poverty rate, and a drastic shortage of affordable housing,” Washburn said.
Bethany House is one of four family shelter providers in Hamilton County but serves 60% of homeless families in the region, Schiller said.
The nonprofit serves more than 2,500 individuals each year, and roughly three quarters of them are children, she added.
“We must do more to ensure no family in Greater Cincinnati goes without the basic need of shelter,” Schiller said.
Bethany House already purchased property in Bond Hill for the new family shelter and comprehensive service facility, to be located at the corner of Reading Road and Joseph Street, said Albert Smitherman, a Bethany House board member and co-chair of capital campaign committee.
The new facility would allow Bethany House to serve 100 additional families per year and will have other social service organizations on site to provide health care and other assistance.
“It will promote education, security and healing,” Smitherman said of the facility.
Schiller said the goal is to begin construction around Feb. 1.
“Every gift will make a family safe,” she said. “It will get families off the streets and keep them from sleeping on the floor in someone’s apartment. It will give a child a warm bed, food and a place to feel safe to heal.”
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 Lucy and for WCPO 9. To reach Lucy, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @LucyMayCincy.