Bethany J. Royer
MIAMI COUNTY — The Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA) announced $26.3 million dollars in aid to support homeless prevention, emergency shelters and supportive housing projects throughout the state. Locally, the Community Housing of Darke, Miami and Shelby County Inc., will receive $689,000, and the Family Abuse Shelter for the county will receive $297,600, as both offer homeless crisis response programs.
An estimated 12,325 Ohioans were homeless in 2013, the latest PIT (Point in time count of homeless individuals in a community, shelter or unsheltered location during one day) numbers provided by The Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio or COHHIO. This is a 12 percent decrease between 2012 and 2013, or the smallest number recorded since PIT statewide reporting began in 2008, as provided by COHHIO’s 2013 Homelessness Report.
While a decrease in the number of homeless individuals is a good thing, even one individual living on the street is one too many, especially when 1,373 of those sheltered and unsheltered homeless were veterans. This was a 9 percent increase from 2012 in terms of homeless veterans showcasing ongoing concerns over housing in Ohio.
To put the issue into perspective, with information provided by the Out of Reach 2013 report, renters alone must make $13.79 an hour (40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year) to afford a modest apartment in the state of Ohio. Closer to home -for Miami County residents- the report looked at fair market rent value for Fiscal Year 2013 resulting in $738 for a two-bedroom apartment that would require an hourly wage of $14.19 an hour. The estimated mean renter wage in the area only came to $10.46 an hour. At this pay rate affordable rent would need to be no more than $544 a month, as affordable rent is spending no more than 30 percent of gross income on gross housing costs.
As the current weather takes a frigid nosedive, aid to homeless shelters could not come at a better time. Grants for the Homeless Crisis Response Program will aid 55 nonprofit and local government agencies that operate emergency shelters and move individuals from emergency shelters to permanent housing. More than 49,000 Ohioans will be assisted through the program with funds received from the Ohio Housing Trust Fund and the federal Emergency Solutions Grant program.
Penny Martin, communications specialist for ODSA, states the Community Housing of Darke, Miami and Shelby Counties, received the grant to provide homeless prevention services to those at risk of becoming homeless and housing assistance to those that are homeless. They serve Champaign, Darke, Logan, Miami, Preble and Shelby counties and it is estimated the fund will help more than 600 in the area.
The Family Abuse Shelter of Miami County, operating a 37-bed emergency shelter for homeless men, women and children in Miami County is estimated to help 800 people with the grant.
These grants are awarded annually and can be for one or two years., both the Community Housing and the Family Abuse Shelter were for two years.