Winter preview warns Butler County residents to prepare for extreme temperatures

Total snow accumulations for the Butler County area were between 1 and 3 inches. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Although the extended forecast calls for seasonable weather, this week’s frigid temperatures were a reminder that winter is nearing and that extreme conditions pose threats to vulnerable groups.

There are numerous programs and agencies in Butler County to serve those who need assistance during the winter months, officials said.

Supports to Encourage Low-income Families (SELF) is working to help Butler County residents in need stay warm this winter with its Winter Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP).

The program, which operates from Nov. 1 to March 31, 2020, provides emergency utility assistance to low-income families. Clients are encouraged to call the organization to schedule an appointment Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Wednesdays are open for walk-ins.

Jeff Diver, executive director of SELF, said the agency has assisted 200 households in the first two weeks of the program, and he said Wednesday walk-ins have been “very busy.”

HEAP is a federally funded program that helps eligible Ohioans who are at or below 175 percent of the federal poverty guidelines meet the costs of home heating, Diver said. HEAP allows eligible households a one-time payment per winter season for electric or gas utilities, non-regulated utilities, fuel oil or propane, and for fire wood to restore, maintain, or establish home heating service.

He said users of Hamilton utilities are eligible for $700 assistance, while Duke users can receive $175.

For the homeless in Butler County, there are 250 available beds.

Kathy Becker, a Butler County homeless advocate, said it’s important for communities to open their doors to the homeless during the winter. She remembers last winter a man who found frozen to death under a Hamilton bridge and another time when she located a 77-year-old man living in a church stairwell.

“I can’t imagine being retired and you’re on the street in the winter,” Becker said. “It’s inconceivable anybody would have to be there. But that could be any of us at any point.”

For those seeking temporary shelter, Butler County has homeless facilities in Hamilton and Middletown. Hamilton has two — Serve City and Haven House — and Middletown has three — Hope House Mission Shelter for Men, Hope House Shelter for Women and Children and Serving Homeless Alternative Lodging Of Middletown (SHALOM), a church-based shelter that operates only during the winter.

Last year, SHALOM served a record 129 homeless clients, breaking the previous year’s record by 10, said Bill Fugate, volunteer director. It starts Dec. 1 and runs through March 7, 2020.

In the last 12 months, House Hope has served 409 clients at its two centers, according to Pastor Mitchell Foster, executive director of the center.

The new $11.5 million Hope House facility, expected to open next month at 1001 Grove St., will offer 50 beds, 10 more than it has at its current facility at 34 S. Main St. There also will be 30 one-bedroom apartments, administrative and counseling offices, a chapel, recreation room, dining room and health provider rooms for visiting nurses and doctors.

The estimated cost of the new homeless shelter is $11.2 million, and executives said $9 million has been secured though state grants and donations.

Every winter, during extreme temperatures, Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones opens the main lobby area of the Butler County Jail as a warm-up location. There isn’t a certain temperature when the temporary warm center is open, officials said. The jail is located at 705 Hanover St.

Existing Resources in Butler County for the homeless

Butler Metropolitan Housing Authority: Public housing, housing choice vouchers.

Community Development Professionals: Permanent Supportive Housing (Shelter Plus Care).

Butler Behavioral Health: Mental health; case management; housing.

Community Behavioral Health: Mental health; case management; housing

Sojourner Recovery Services: Substance abuse treatment – inpatient; outpatient.

Genesis Substance: abuse treatment – inpatient; outpatient.

Hope House Rescue Mission: Emergency shelter.

Serve City: Emergency shelter.

YWCA: Transitional shelter for women.

Veterans Affairs: A VA services and referral.

Veterans Services Commission: VA services and referral.

Butler County Success: Homeless liaison for schools.

Oxford Family Resource Center: Emergency housing and referrals.

The Dream Project: Developing new transitional housing.

SHALOM: Emergency shelter during winter months.

Family Promise Emergency: shelter for families.

Access Counseling Services Outreach: Mental health: case management, housing, therapy.

Emergency Money Fund: One-time financial assistance to prevent/end homelessness.

Women Helping Women: Domestic violence, crisis intervention.

Freedom House: Faith community, supportive services.

Lighthouse Church: Faith community, supportive services.

SHALOM: Seasonal emergency shelter, supportive services.

Warren Metropolitan Housing Authority: Homelessness Crisis Response Programs funding.

SOURCE: City of Middletown

In order to receive help from SELF HEAP’s program, Butler County residents must bring the following documents to their appointments:

• Picture I.D. and proof of citizenship for all household members

• Proof of all household income for the last 30 days or 12 months

• Social Security Cards or legal documentation for all household members

• Disconnect notice or current utility or bulk fuel bill (with less than 10 days’ supply) in household member’s name

• Applicant must also bring both primary and electric heating bills (for example, if client uses gas and electric) regardless of account status

• Proof of disability, if applicable

• City of Hamilton utility customers or other unregulated utility customers must bring arrangement form and copayment receipt

BUTLER COUNTY HOMELESS SHELTERS/PROGRAMS

HAVEN HOUSE

Address: 550 High St., Hamilton

Phone number: 513-863-8866

HOPE HOUSE MISSION

Address: 34 S. Main St., Middletown

Phone number: 513-424-4673

SERVE CITY

Address: 622 East Ave., Hamilton

Phone number: 513-737-8900

SERVING HOMELESS ALTERNATE LODGING OF MIDDLETOWN (SHALOM)

Address: 120 S. Broad St., Middletown

Phone number: 513- 423-7821

Tentative schedule for SHALOM

Here is a tentative schedule for the 2019-2020 season at Serving the Homeless with Alternative Lodging Of Middletown (SHALOM):

Dec. 1-7: Franklin Church of God

Dec. 8-14: Yankee Road Church of God

Dec. 15-21: Open

Dec. 22-28: Breiel Church of God

Dec. 29-Jan. 4: Christ United Methodist/First Christian

Jan. 5-11: Holy Family Parish

Jan. 12-18: Holy Family Parish

Jan. 19-25: First Baptist

Jan. 26-Feb. 1: First Presbyterian/Christian Enterprise Baptist

Feb. 2-8: Crosspointe Church of Christ

Feb. 9-15: Christ United Methodist/First Christian Church

Feb. 16-22: Stratford Heights Church of God

Feb. 23-29: Quest Church

March 1-7: First United Methodist

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