City of Cincy to borrow money to build new homeless shelters - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

City to borrow money to build new homeless shelters

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CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

Cincinnati City Council is looking to move homeless shelters away from the Washington Park area but several groups, including one that advocates for the homeless, say the money spent to build them could be used to address the root of the homeless problem; affordable housing and jobs.

Cincinnati City Council wants to borrow $37 million from the federal government and spend $7 million of that money to build three new homeless shelters. "We're creating a new homeless shelter for women and we are really creating a nice new one for teenagers," said councilwoman Laure Quinlivan. "It's part of a comprehensive plan and I think it's a good plan."

"There's always ways to better serve our homeless population," said councilman, Cecil Thomas. "And this is one of the means by which we can do that."

The city receives Community Block Grant money every year but this plan would borrow against that money for the next 20 years. "We'll have nice shiny new homeless shelters, which would be nice, it's not a bad thing, but then we're going to have to make the hard decision of what programs we're going to have to cut in order to pay the debt service," said Elizabeth Brown, executive director of Housing Opportunities Made Easy. Homeless shelters do not produce revenues. "What we need to do is build affordable housing that people can live in permanently," said Brown.

"We are doing that too," said Quinlivan. "Just because we are investing in new shelters doesn't mean we're not going to also invest in affordable housing."

According to one advocate for the homeless, the majority of today's homeless population is not the stereotypical wandering vagrant but rather made up of the working poor and families that have been foreclosed upon or have become unemployed. "And if you could poll those folks and you said do you want a new shelter or do you want a home and a job, they'd say, home and job. Home and job all day long, that's what I want," said Josh Spring, executive director of the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition. "The bottom line is people do not want to be in shelter. People want to be in homes and they want to be employed and that's where we should invest because that helps everybody," said Spring.

The City Gospel Mission's new site is on Dalton Avenue in Queensgate. The new YWCA shelter for women will be build on Reading Road in Mount Auburn. A site has not been selected yet to replace the Drop In Center on 12th street.

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