Greater Cincinnati continues to see high demand for family homelessness services, but the regional response system is at capacity. In 2019, nearly 1,700 families (up 20% from 2018) called the regional hotline for help, but only 27% received shelter or program services. Women and families represent the fastest growing segment of the homeless population and families are the invisible homeless, hiding for fear of losing their children if they seek help.
Bethany House Services is the largest organization sheltering homeless families in the region. Of those receiving shelter in Greater Cincinnati, BHS serves 60% of families and 66% of children. We are uniquely positioned to reach more families to meet the growing need but being spread across multiple facilities substantially limits the services and impact we are able to provide to families.
Families experiencing homelessness have been on the front lines of recent community crises. They were among the first to be affected by the COVID-19 health challenges, job losses and economic hardship. Moreover, recent racial tensions highlight the economic inequities that impact homeless families—mostly single mothers and children. Our region must do more to serve the most vulnerable families who are affected by inequities every day.
Families and staff are currently scattered among seven different buildings that are aging, inefficient, and not designed for families and children. The scattered sites provide no room for expansion to meet the growing need and significantly limit access to programs for families.
We are in urgent need of a new, consolidated facility to improve shelter accommodations, increase access to supportive services, and serve more families each year.