Thursday, December 21, 2000

Shelters seek help to help

Cold days bring high demand

By Kristina Goetz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        With 10 days left in its annual holiday fund-raiser, the Drop-Inn Center in Over-the-Rhine is more than one-third short of reaching its $200,000 goal.

        This month's frigid temperatures have filled the Drop-Inn Center and other Tristate homeless shelters to capacity on many nights. With cold temperatures expected to continue, shelters are feeling the pressure.

[photo] “Pokeman” bundles up on a downtown sidewalk Wednesday.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
| ZOOM |
        “We need to make sure the community knows the need is out there,” said Pat Clifford, the center's director. “We have a lot of people coming now.”

        Tuesday night, the shelter housed its highest number of people this year — 271. Normally the number is around 240. In years past, Mr. Clifford said, the record was in the mid-300s.

        While no one will be turned away, services could be cut if the fund drive comes up short.

        “Our mission is to never turn people away,” Mr. Clifford said. “Maybe instead of serving three meals a day, we'd serve two.”

   For information about donating, call:
   • Drop-Inn Center in Over-the-Rhine, (513) 721-0643.
   • Welcome House in Covington, (859) 292-7903.
   • Hope House in Middletown, (513) 423-4673.
   • Haven House in Hamilton, (513) 863-8866.
        Other shelters are also facing challenges.

        In Hamilton, Haven House officials blame the cold spell for a 25 percent increase in the number of people coming to the shelter this season. If donations slow, the shelter won't be able to pay its utility bills or its staff, said Faye Grove, director of the shelter.

        Nancy Caudill, executive director of the Hope House in Middletown, is seeing more people than usual at the shelter for this time of year.

        Hope House is under financial strain, as well. Even if all nine grants the shelter has applied for come through, it would close its books $30,000 in the red. If that happens, organizers will be at the mercy of donors and may have to apply for more grants.

        “Charity dollars are so strained right now,” Ms. Caudill said. “Social service agencies are struggling for their very survival.”

        A funding deficit could mean staff cutbacks, which could result in a reduction in the number of people who can be helped.

        Linda Young, executive director of Welcome House in Covington, said her shelter struggles to meet needs beyond the winter months.

        “This is our biggest giving time of the year,” she said.


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