WILMINGTON — A local “Coordinated Community Plan to Prevent & End Homelessness” may focus more on what’s called transitional housing than on more emergency shelter beds.
Transitional housing is time-limited residential opportunities — six months to two years — and as such it is differentiated from what’s known as emergency shelter which by design is meant to be very time-limited, said homelessness consultant Tom Albanese.
Participants of the Clinton County Coalition on Homelessness recognize a need for more transitional housing options around here, he said.
Transitional housing, said Albanese, is for people who need more time — which is “not to say they’re not ready for housing, but there may not be housing ready for them or services ready for them to support them long-term in the community.”
Or, in the words of a priority spelled out in the coalition’s strategic plan, “Expand transitional options for people unable to more quickly resolve homelessness and secure permanent housing.”
A key action step in this regard is to support expansion of Sugartree Ministries’ existing residential options for men, which is transitional, but has no set time limit. Another action step is to support other new transitional options for families.
The strategic plan document notes that a Sugartree Ministries expansion, if it occurs, will in part help address the need for men.
The plan states that a local church is working on transitional housing for families.
The church hopes to start with one independent housing unit, but later hopes to add one-to-two bedroom trailers. These may be geared to women with children.
The local Coalition on Homelessness was organized early this year. In February during a meeting with county commissioners, Clinton County Regional Planning Commission (RPC) Executive Director Taylor Stuckert said “we have to do something active to even have a chance at solving it [local homelessness].”
Stuckert told county commissioners last winter it’s reassuring to see a broad outpouring of interest on the matter and a willingness to commit. What helps the most to fuel efforts and to work on a challenging initiative, he said, is the community response.
Albanese, who was retained in the first quarter of 2021, has spoken about the local community’s previous work to address homelessness.
“I just want to say again, you all have done an amazing job as a community to build your response and capacity to serve people who are experiencing homelessness. You have shelter capacity that is much greater than communities that are four times your size in Ohio. Like literally in Ohio there are counties that dream about having the shelter capacity you have and so you’ve come a long way,” said Albanese.
At an October meeting of the coalition, Clinton County Homeless Shelter Executive Director Denise Stryker said, “I always knew we needed this type of [coordinated strategic] work, and I’m just still in awe of the fact that it’s actually happening. Sometimes I have to pinch myself.”
At that same meeting, Albanese said it’s generally acknowledged that — not just in Clinton County — there is “just not enough affordable housing.”
He noted a “good chunk” of rental units are owned by mom-and-pop scale landlords who have one to four rental units and often times are low or moderate income themselves.
Stuckert said Albanese has documented the income levels people need to have in order to sustain housing, and that those housing costs are “often out of line with current wage opportunities in this community.”
The county RPC head said right now a lot of housing is both unaffordable and substandard.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.