Hamilton considers $1.4M to help prevent, address homelessness

Hamilton received in March 2021 slightly more than $1.4 million in American Rescue Act Plan funds to address homelessness and people at risk of homelessness.

City Council is set to have a public hearing Wednesday to discuss these funds that would be spent on rental housing through Neighborhood Housing Services (which includes constructing two new structures) and family rental assistance through Family Promise. The funds will be a “substantial amendment” to the city’s annual action plan, and council will vote on the amendment at its Feb. 8 City Council meeting.

Tomika Hedrington, with the Neighborhoods Development Division, said at City Council’s Jan. 11 meeting that after the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued the funds, there were meetings, surveys, and discussions with stakeholders about the money.

“Through that feedback, we have decided to propose projects related to the production or rental housing, family rental assistance, shelter operating expenses, and to cover some administration costs,” she said.

Mayor Pat Moeller said at the Jan. 11 City Council meeting that this project could “help us get to a solution, or closer to one.”

Homelessness and the lack of affordable housing is a countywide and a national issue, said Linda Smith, executive director of Family Promise. The shelter her agency operates allows families with children and keeps them together, and the only one in Butler County to do that.

She said her shelter is “bursting at the seams,” as are other shelters in Butler County, like Serve City in Hamilton and Hope House in Middletown, and “cannot remember the last time we were not full.”

“Many, many individuals are one or two paychecks shy of not having enough to pay the rent next month,” she said, adding Family Promise also does counseling and financial literacy with those they assist.

Smith said Family Promise said there are “a lot of different ways we can assist families and keep them out of homelessness or prevent overburdening the system more than it already is.” The funds, which could be authorized by City Council after the public hearing on Wednesday, could help around two dozen families remain in their homes or apartments.

“If there was no one to pay that month’s rent, or to help them out, guess what, now they get evicted, and they’re into the homeless system,” said Smith.

Hamilton City Council meets at 6 p.m. Wednesday at One Renaissance Center on High Street.

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