A task force to combat homelessness is set to start this week in Hamilton as the city looks to address the problem.
In Butler County, there are more than 775 children classified as homeless, meaning they live in cars, motels or “couch surf” among friends and family, according to Jennifer Withrow, executive director of the Butler County group Family Promise.
The organization is part of a national network addressing family homelessness in the country with more than 200 affiliates in 48 states.
Paulino and Pauline Alejos, along with their two daughters, recently moved to the area from California with no family or support.
“They came to Family Promise and with a lot of hard work were able to obtain a job, childcare and with the help of one of our churches, they found a car,” Withrow said. “Once they were able to make rent, they obtained their housing. They continue to rely on the support of Family Promise as they address the challenges of building back their lives.”
Paulino said Family Promise helped him to create a resume and to find a job.
“They helped my wife get enrolled into Butler Tech to get her GED and helped get us focused on what we really needed to do in a short period of time,” he said.
Mayor Pat Moeller said stories like these and others prompted the need for the commission to be formed.
Moeller and Kathy Becker, a board member of Family Promise, have visited some of the city’s homeless areas to get a better idea of the issue.
“Kathy has visited the camps several times. I have visited them twice with Kathy,” Moeller said. “At a prior visit, Butler County Veterans Service Commission went with us to speak with an Afghanistan war veteran we met at a homeless camp. The Butler County Veterans Service Commission was able to really help the veteran.”
The task force to combat homelessness will meet on Thursday, according to Moeller, who added that the Hamilton police and advocates who deal with the issue on a daily basis are going to be part of the committee’s efforts.
“We have already met with Hamilton Police Department,” Moeller said. “Family Promise has a draft list of individuals for the task force, including individuals who provide resources to the homeless and mentally ill.”
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