PREBLE COUNTY — Bill Hutton, HIT Foundation Executive Director, attended the Preble County Board of Commissioners meeting on Monday, Nov. 6, to make an appeal for funding.
Hutton provided an update on the foundation and a presentationfeaturing many Preble County organizations, on why the commissioners should fund a minimum of $10,000 annually.
The foundation previously gave a similar presentation to Eaton City Council, who promised to look over the proposal and discuss.
Clayton Genth, HIT Foundation board member and Preble County native, opened the presentation by sharing his experiences and knowledge on Preble County homelessness.
“I currently work for a homeless service organization in Dayton, but four or five years ago I was managing the homeless services in Montgomery County,” he shared. “I started to see men and women from Preble County in the homeless shelters around there. It first struck me when I was walking through the commons area of the shelter and I saw two men wearing Eaton Basketball sweatshirts. It turned out they were both from Eaton.
“After some discussion with the HIT Foundation they were able to step up to the plate and provide the services to these homeless people. I also think it is worth saying that the shelter in Montgomery County is serviced through Human Service tax levy money and not able to serve those people in Preble County. We had to send many people out of the shelter.
“I think it is important to recognize the work that the HIT Foundation is doing for the people here in Preble County. A lot of best practice models are used in the shelter to meet those peoples needs. I also think it is important to know that there is a culture of responsibility in the shelter. It is not just a place people can go and be homeless. It is not a place of permanency.
“There are high standards there for people to find employment, education, disability benefits, drug and alcohol counseling, and things like that. Over the last few years the HIT Foundation has really nurtured and built relationships with the other organizations in Preble County.”
Amy Raynes, from the Mental Health and Recovery Board, spoke about the relationship that the HIT Foundation has formed with her organization and the innate connection the two boards have.
“I don’t feel like I need to tell you that most of our homeless people have mental health issues or addiction,” she said. “I know that you all support what we do in the county for those who are homeless. Our goal is to eradicate homelessness, but as we are trying to do so, we put a lot of our dollars into housing and trying to create subsidies.
“We take a piece of our pie and put it into housing. I understand your budget is a big part of the work you do and that there is only so much money to go around. We noticed, through the years, who used to take care of homeless people has now changed. We rely on private and government funding. We’re not seeing people take homeless into their homes.
“We want to make sure there are safe places for those who are homeless, who don’t always make good choices at the time. Not all of these people fall into homelessness because of their own choices, some do because of the changes in the economy. We want to make sure we are providing a place where people can go while they wait for housing. We have a major housing shortage in Preble County – even people who can pay market rent we can barely find housing for.”
Courtney Griffith, with the YWCA, spoke on how the HIT Foundation affects domestic violence and their shelter. She started by sharing the HIT Foundation is the organization which decided to bring the YWCA in to take care of Preble County domestic violence victims in the first place.
“A lot of people don’t associate us with homeless, but those women and children are indeed homeless. They are fleeing an abusive and dangerous situation and leaving their homes to be safe and live independently,” she said.
“We, as well as the Hit Foundation, work with homeless. Since I started in 2013 working with the YWCA, I’ve been working with the HIT Foundation. It is daily that we communicate and collaborate about our shared clients. Since they started the homeless shelter they have been working with us to help these women and men.
“If we get a call from a women who needs to come into shelter and we are full, we refer them to the HIT Foundation who assists them. They either put them in the shelter or set them up somewhere safe with homeless funds, so they don’t have to go out of shelter. It takes a lot for these women just to call and if you tell them that the shelter is full and refer them out of county, they are more than likely not going to take that resource.
“To have the HIT Foundation there for them is a great resource and partnership.”
Hutton added, “It is expensive to operate a shelter. About $210,000 is what it costs annually and that is after donations. We are looking at a shortfall for 2017. Other than donations, we were able to get a grant. The rest is funded through the HIT Foundation.
“We are formally asking for funding from the county of at least $10,000 a year. This is not unprecedented — in our region, Miami County supports their shelter. It changes annually, but it ranges from $8,000 to $30,000 annually. A lot of other counties as well are funded through their county.”
The commissioners promised to discuss and look into the matter and will get back with the Foundation.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH