• Fri. Sep 30th, 2022

Bridget Doherty

Communications Manager,

Hamilton County Administration

Hamilton County Commissioners approved a $3 million expansion of the Shelter Diversion Program, which provides critical support to families who are at immediate risk of being homeless. Using American Rescue Plan funds, Commissioners are building upon their commitment to support the recovery of Hamilton County families from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Shelter Diversion applies evidence-based best practices to help families find immediate housing arrangements and the support services to prevent them from needing emergency shelter or living on the streets in the first place.  

“We are proactively preventing homelessness from occurring with these funds by providing stable accommodations and supportive services so families with children can avoid the trauma and disruption that comes with experiencing homelessness” said Commission President Stephanie Summerow Dumas. “The County is taking a holistic approach towards addressing homelessness.” 

“This is just one component of our $45.5 million commitment to making homes affordable for families,” said Commission Vice President Alicia Reece. “The cost of preventing homelessness is exponentially less than the community cost of helping families once they are already unhoused.”

Shelter Diversion is estimated to cost $1,631 per person compared with $4,047 per person for people already in the shelter system according to Strategies to End Homelessness.

“We are tackling homelessness from all sides,” said Commissioner Denise Driehaus. “We’ve kept families in their homes by connecting them directly to resources that match their current need. Whether it’s rent relief, eviction prevention, or help paying a mortgage; we believe that a vibrant Hamilton County starts with providing safe and stable homes.”  

Hamilton County is contracting with Strategies to End Homelessness which will coordinate the expansion with partners including Bethany House, the Freestore Foodbank, Talbert House, and Found House Interfaith Housing Network. Between 500-575 families over the next three years are expected to be helped with the expansion.  

The bulk of the funding will provide direct assistance to families in need of emergency shelter in the form of rent and utility payments. Additional case managers will help families with a household case plan designed to keep them in stable housing. Case managers will assist families with budgeting, employment training/connection, furnishing the home, mental health/substance abuse treatment, life skills, and childcare/benefits acquisition.   

“Almost 70% of Hamilton County families that try to access emergency shelter get nothing; they are turned away without assistance due to a lack of capacity to help them,” said Kevin Finn, President/CEO of Strategies to End Homelessness. “This new Shelter Diversion funding will ensure that families seeking shelter receive the help they need.”  

To learn more about Shelter Diversion, visit https://www.strategiestoendhomelessness.org/shelter-diversion-a-best-practice-to-prevent-homelessness/.  

Hamilton County Homelessness Prevention and Affordable Housing Measures Under the American Rescue Plan:

  • Homelessness Prevention Innovation Grants: In addition to the $3 million for the Shelter Diversion Expansion, Hamilton County Commissioners also plan to spend an additional $2 million in ARPA funding towards homelessness prevention innovation grants. The County intends to solicit grant applications to encourage innovation and partnerships to leverage additional resources. 
  • Affordable Housing Production and Renovation:  Hamilton County Commissioners have dedicated $33.5 million in federal funds towards creating new affordable housing and renovating existing units. 
  • Mortgage, Property Tax and Utility Assistance: Commissioners allocated $5 million in ARPA funding towards struggling homeowners. More than $4 million is still available for mortgage, utility and property tax assistance for income-eligible Hamilton County homeowners. Homeowners can apply on 513Relief.org  
  • Homeowner Repair Program: Commissioners allocated $2 million in ARPA funding to improve the aging housing stock and help residents stay in homes. Coming later in 2022

    Other Hamilton County Housing Assistance Programs

  • Senior Utility and Home Repair Assistance Program: County Commissioners allocated $1 million towards providing eligible older adults with assistance paying their utility bill or to provide in home modification or repairs so they may age in place. The program expands access to financial assistance to those who are ineligible for other utility and home modification programs.  
  • Rental and Utility Assistance:  Hamilton County has dispersed over $35 million in Emergency Rent and Utility Assistance to 11,000 households. Hamilton County Job and Family Services has requested an additional $40 million from the federal government to continue to meet the community need.