EATON — Representatives from the HIT Foundation attended the Eaton City Council meeting on Monday, Oct. 16, to appeal to council for funding.
Executive Director Bill Hutton and various staff members and collaborators presented reports on the good the Foundation does for the area.
Board member Clayton Genth began the report. He was born in Eaton and began his work in Dayton in homelessness services. He began to see many homeless people from Eaton come to Dayton for services.
“It broke my heart to see people from my hometown not able to access homeless services where they live,” he said. “They were people in need and we were not able to shelter them, due to how they receive their funding. Before the homeless shelter started in Eaton, there was nowhere for the homeless from Eaton to go.
“Since 2015, I’ve been part of the HIT Foundation in the homeless services committee. We’ve been surrounded by a lot of important players in Preble County, including the Mental Health and Recovery Board, the Sheriff’s Department, Eaton Police Department, and more. It is a great team.
“I’ve studied homeless all across the State and Country — I feel like Eaton does it very well for a rural city,” Genth continued. “The HIT Foundation really embraced a model of learning and a culture of responsibility. People can’t just come and be free-loaders, they have to come and develop a specific plan for how they are going to get out of homelessness.
“A lot of work goes in from the shelter staff to make sure a person never enters the shelter. Once they do enter, the staff works with them to get the help they need to get out. Employment is a huge focus in this culture of responsibility. People cannot stay there forever and we are constantly working on their plan to get out of homelessness.”
He added, there is even an after-homelessness piece, to make sure those who utilize their services are successful and do not become homeless again.
Next, Amy Raynes with the Mental Health and Recovery Board spoke on Preble County’s homeless services. She is also on the homeless services board.
“We’re proud of our shelter, we think it does very well. People are in and out fairly quickly. We help people as fast as we can,” she said. “There is case management and they help people find work. We appreciate all the help that they provide to our population,” Raynes said.
“If people are homeless, they are going to come to Eaton, because they can walk everywhere. We want to reduce that. We really appreciate having that first step into finding shelter.”
Next, a couple recipients of the HIT Foundation’s services spoke about the services they had received.
Following their touching stories (both of which had happy endings), Hutton took the microphone to relay statistics and make his plea.
“We are graded by the state and we do get a grant from the state to help with homeless services,” he said. “Eaton has the larger homeless community than other areas in the county. Most of Preble County’s homeless are in Eaton. These numbers do not provide for transients — we do not provide services for people not in Preble County. We work to get them a bus ticket out of Preble County, but we do not provide them with shelter.
“As Genth stated, we do not just put people in the shelter, but also work with them to prevent their admittance into the shelter and help them find employment. The shelter is one of the last resorts. A lot of our expenses come from other areas. The HIT Foundation would like to formally request of this council that the city consider funding or partial funding to homeless services in the amount of $10,000 annually, or whatever your budget can allow.
“We just ask the city to consider that request.”
Council agreed to look over the matter and come to a decision.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH