City leaders: Homeless families' needs not being met - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

City leaders: Homeless families' needs not being met

(SOURCE: FOX19 NOW/FIle) (SOURCE: FOX19 NOW/FIle)
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

A community-wide plan was announced Monday to combat homeless families' needs not being met. 

The plan, Solutions for Family Homelessness, involved participation of more than 60 organizations in order to seek making family homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring. 

Solutions for Family Homelessness, a collaboratively developed, multi-year plan was designed to solve critical issues for homeless and at-risk families. The plan is to identify how we, as a community, can proactively address the needs of families.

Recommendations are focused in four key areas – prevention, capacity building, policy change and housing.

“As a team, we have identified three priorities, including expanding homelessness prevention services, offering specialized services for homeless children and targeting existing housing resources toward at-risk and homeless families so that we can minimize the trauma of homelessness,” said president and CEO of Strategies to End Homelessness Kevin Finn. 

 According to data released by the 2014 Cincinnati Family Homelessness Services Study, 661 families found themselves living in emergency shelters in Hamilton County. Hundreds more families were turned away without any prevention or shelter services, or found themselves trying to negotiate a system that lacked coordination and the resources to more effectively assist families.

Family homelessness is a complex, multi-faceted issue. 

The study also showed that contributing factors include a lack of affordable housing, generational poverty, the challenges of raising children alone, domestic violence and a lack of social supports. 

As the gap between housing costs and income continues to widen, more families are at risk of homelessness. 

Finn said prevention is the most cost-effective strategy to reduce homelessness.

St. Vincent de Paul, the largest provider of Emergency Assistance in the region, finds that 89% of families avoid eviction for at least 6 months after receiving an average of $200 of emergency assistance.

Shelter Diversion, another prevention strategy, served families that have already lost their own housing at an average cost of $1,126 per person. In comparison, when a person becomes homeless, the cost to serve them rises to $3,032 per person.

The Family Housing Partnership provides shelter for families who have become homeless due to a lack of affordable housing, job loss, domestic violence and other causes.

The overall plan will require action in partnership with multiple systems, sectors and providers, more strategic uses of funds, changes in systems and programs and the use of data to drive community improvements. 

"Without effective coordination our community would be unable to determine the most effective ways to assist at-risk and homeless families," said Finn. 

The Cincinnati Family Homelessness Services Study and the Solutions for Family Homelessness Executive Summary and Plan are available online at www.strategiestoendhomelessness.org.  

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