Various social-services agencies met Sunday with homeless people living in a tent community near Hamilton Plaza.
“Things are going really well,” said Hamilton Police Chief Craig Bucheit, who helped arrange a “Moving Up Initiative” services fair provided by organizations and government entities that have abilities to help the 15-40 people living in the tents, plus others from across the community who have similar needs.
“Dozens of volunteers are down there,” Bucheit said. “It’s been a great event.”
“The Hamilton Police Department, we’re there for one reason today, and that’s to help people,” Bucheit said. “We’re there to help those who are in need by connecting them to services and resources. And we’re there to help businesses and property owners by upholding the law, ensuring that their rights and interests are protected as well.”
“When I was there this morning, there were people there from all over the city,” Bucheit said. “We had worked with some of the other agencies and organizations, and spread the word that, ‘Hey, we’re going to have this resource fair, this Moving Up Initiative. It’s a great opportunity for anybody who is in need and wants some help.’”
Organizations including Butler County Job and Family Services, Legal Aid, health departments, Sojourners (which helps people conquer addictions) were among those present, allowing prospective clients to connect with them.
Some nearby business owners have been frustrated by people panhandling and loitering.
“These are social-service agencies and providers from across the entire spectrum,” Bucheit said. “And to see them all in one location, sharing contact information, building relationships and just doing a better job of collaborating across all disciplines there in order to meet the needs of those folks who are down there looking for help.”
Butler County Commissioner Cindy Carpenter, another event organizer, was unavailable afterward but said the event would be invitation-only, with media not invited, so people seeking services would have privacy.
“Hopefully, going forward, this is just the first step of closing that gap,” Bucheit said. He said officials will talk soon about what services the people most needed, and how officials can collaborate in similar, future efforts to help.
“Maybe there were 15 agencies, groups and service providers today,” Bucheit said. “The question, I think, after today, is if we’re going to replicate this, or take this to other areas of the county, or other areas of the community, do we need all 15 of those? Or is there a critical group of three to five that we need on an initial basis, and then you have these other resources to reach out to and utilize?”
He said some of the providers themselves were talking and networking with each other. Bucheit said he hopes that will lead to “a better ability to provide necessary services.”
Many people not from the tent community attended. Bucheit said he spoke with one man from a northern part of Hamilton who said he he walked to the event.
“We’re strongly encouraging people to engage with these resources,” Bucheit said, “because it’s their best chance to get on their feet, and get some help.”