CINCINNATI -- As temperatures drop, the winter shelter at Shelterhouse may be the path to survival for many people who are homeless.
The shelter, on Gest Street in Queensgate, opens at 7 p.m. Wednesday. It can house up to 200 people a night, with no questions asked about getting a space.
"The whole purpose is to prevent anybody experiencing homelessness from freezing to death during the winter months," Shelterhouse Executive Director Arlene Nolan said.
It takes $120,000 to operate the shelter through March, and money is still being sought to meet that goal. The City of Cincinnati contributes $45,000. Councilmember Chris Seelbach plans to get the council to approve another $28,000 Wednesday.
"This is something the city is responsible for," he said. "We are responsible for the least fortunate, those who don't have shelter."
Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval has begun a Gofundme effort to raise another $25,000. Click here for more information about the fundraiser.
Kevin Finn, who heads Strategies to End Homelessness, said he knows that many donors are financially tapped out.
"In a year like this, where people have already contributed to hurricane relief and things like that, a lot of people have already given what they're able to give," he said. "It makes it hard to find resources to help the homeless in winter."
Each bed can be converted to a bunk bed, which will double the capacity.
the shelter doesn't serve food, but Nolan said anybody who goes into the shelter has the option of going into one of the more traditional shelters.
"Our shelter can lead you out of homelessness, into housing, which is the goal," Nolan said.
NKY shelter also needs donations
Across the river in Covington, a line was forming in front of the Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky on Scott Street.
The shelter opens daily at 6 p.m. There are 71 beds inside, but on a cold night nobody who needs help will be turned away.
"If it wasn't for the cold shelter taking me in, I don't know what would have happened to me. I probably would have died on the streets or taken my own life," said Nora Elliott. She was formerly homeless and now volunteers at the shelter.
Executive Director Kim Webb said it costs $20 per night to house a person, leading to an annual cost of $320,000. The shelter is 92 percent privately funded. Donations make up the difference.
Last year, the shelter helped 650 people with 11,000 nights of housing from November through March. So far this year, 200 people have spent 2,000 room nights in just six weeks.