“Bad choices,” he said. “It’s all about choices.”
Linda Kimble, executive director of Serve City/Chosen, a Hamilton homeless shelter and food pantry, pointed to the same obstacles as hurdles for the homeless. She said many homeless are “hard to employ” because they lack at least a GED or made poor decisions that led to legal issues.
Kimble said because of this winter’s “weird weather” — 60 degrees one day, 30 degrees the next — it was difficult to predict the daily need for homeless services. Still, she said, the center averaged serving about 45 men and women daily.
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SHALOM, Fugate said, also is the only local area homeless shelter that doesn’t drug test its clients. He said representatives of the host churches discussed the possibility of implementing a drug testing procedure this year because of the heroin epidemic but decided to “serve them as they are.”
He described the drug issue “a small problem” at SHALOM.
SHALOM served diverse clients this year with ages ranging from 1 month to 74 years old.
Bobby Grove III, executive director at the Haven House Emergency Shelter in Hamilton, said the face of homelessness has changed drastically in the past 15 years. He said 60 percent of the homeless in the county used to be men struggling with alcohol addictions. Now, he said, 70 percent of the homeless in the county are children.
“It’s not the person on the park bench or under the bridge,” he said.
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Grove III said Haven House averaged about 40 residents a day.
“Extremely busy” is how he described the shelter.
Heroin, he said, is “crushing families” and creating a higher need for homeless services. He said the drug is costing people their jobs and ripping families apart.
“When you have no trust,” he said, “you have people who become homeless.”
The coordinators are already preparing for next season. Fugate said SHALOM is seeking additional churches that are willing to host the homeless for one week. For more information, call 513-423-7821 or go to www.shalomhomeless.com.