Cincinnati winter shelter has less than half the funds it needs, organizers say

CINCINNATI -- If Sunday night's hard freeze was a shock to your system consider this: Cincinnati's winter shelter has less than half the money it needs this year.

The shelter is usually open mid-December to February. Strategies to End Homelessness hoped to open it early as temperatures drop. But, the organization isn't sure it even has enough for its usual three-month run.

Experts say it's a critical service, because winter temperatures can be deadly.

Shelterhouse, formerly called the Drop Inn Center, operates the winter shelter each year. It gets support from Strategies to End Homelessness, the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition and the city of Cincinnati.

The city has kicked in $45,000, and the nonprofits have raised $10,000.

The total costs are $120,000. That leaves a gap of $65,000.

Nearly 7,200 people -- including 1,700 children -- lived in emergency shelters or were found sleeping on the streets of Hamilton County last year. 

The winter shelter can serve up to 200 people per night over and above Hamilton County's 675 year-round shelter beds.

"As a community, we need to make sure everyone has a place where they can come in from the cold," said Kevin Finn, president and CEO for Strategies to End Homelessness.

The shelter is on the lower level of the David and Rebecca Barron Center for Men, at 411 Gest St., in the Queensgate neighborhood.

To make a donation, visit strategiestoendhomelessness.org.

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