The past year was a good one for the Highland County Homeless Shelter, but the new year has seen an increase in the number of clients being served, according to executive director Greg Hawkins, and the shelter has launched its 2016 capital campaign.
The shelter has a budget of $116,853 for this year, Hawkins said, and about half of that will need to come from donations which will continue to be accepted throughout the year.
While the shelter does not receive any funding from the county or city of Hillsboro where it is located, it does receive funding from an Ohio Developmental Services Agency Grant and other smaller grants that Hawkins said make up about 50 percent of the shelter’s budget.
He said any funds the shelter receives from the state have to be matched with 50 percent from local funds.
He said the amount of the Developmental Services Grant varies from year to year depending on several factors and that, “The state wants to see progress, and if they don’t see that our funding will be reduced.”
In 2015, the shelter provided housing for 130 clients for a total of 4,453 nights stayed at the shelter. Hawkins said the facility had an 80 percent success rate of assisting its clients into housing, in addition to providing 21,996 meals and snacks to its clients.
In addition to serving Highland County, Hawkins said the Hillsboro shelter also helps clients from most surrounding counties.
Established in 2004, the Highland County shelter is located at 145 Homestead Ave. near the Highland County Justice Center on the city’s north side. It has 28 beds and serves single men, single women and families with children. It is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and offers it clients temporary shelter for up to 90 days.
However, Hawkins said the shelter’s goal is to help its clients find employment and other housing before that 90 days has expired. He said that if the 90 days expire, some of the grant funds will sometimes help pay for a client’s first month’s rent elsewhere.
“We provide a complete case-managed program that assists the client with overcoming the barriers which led them to homelessness,” Hawkins said in a news release. He said those services include, but are not limited to, benefit application assistance; help with Medicaid, TANF, SSI/SSDI; veterans services; and more. Assistance with resume writing, employment search, GED procurement, budgeting and finance, food and nutrition, medical appointments and prescriptions, parenting classes, and general life skills are provided. Rapid rehousing programs are available to aid clients in securing stable housing, and referrals for mental health, addiction, domestic violence and youth services are provided while at the shelter. Bedding, clothing, toiletries, and all food are provided during the client’s stay.
The scarcity of full-time employment, affordable housing, and lack of transportation are what Hawkins cited as the main barriers that keep the shelter’s clients from moving forward.
The shelter has two full-time employees, Hawkins and Melanie Overbee, the administrative director.
“We would not be able to serve those in need without the support of the community, local churches, volunteers, practicum students, businesses, and the shelter board members. Funding and donations are vital to the Highland County Homeless Shelter’s success,” the news release said. “The Highland County Homeless Shelter is seeking monetary donations for our 2016 capital campaign. Information and updates about the shelter can be found at www.hcshelter.org, Facebook, and Twitter. Your generosity will make a difference in our community by permitting us to continue our work with those in need.”
Donations can be made through PayPal on the shelter’s website, or can be mailed to or dropped off at the shelter.
“And it doesn’t have to be a monetary donation,” Hawkins said. “Cleaning supplies, other household items that people use; we go through those things twice as fast here. We’ve received a lot of support in the past and it really is appreciated.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.