XENIA — Bridges of Hope, a homeless shelter in Xenia, is hoping to expand its services and has asked the City of Xenia for financial help.
At a recent council meeting, Bridges vice-president Will Urschel told council members the shelter — located in the former Simon Kenton Elementary School building on East Second Street — would like to change its morning departure time from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., and three days a week allow guests to stay until 11:30 a.m. if they participate in classes or on a shelter work team.
To facilitate those changes, the shelter would need an additional $2,215 per month to cover a part-time employee, an increase of 10 hours per week for supervisory staff, and an increase in building costs and supplies.
Urschel — a former city council member — asked current council members to consider funding those additional expenses. He said Bridges of Hope also plans to ask other county municipalities and the board of county commissioners for financial support since it’s a county-wide shelter. BoH will also reach out to the USDA for help.
“It would behoove the city to step up to this initial part of that funding so as we go into the other municipalities and into the USDA program we can show that the city is with us within the context of stepping forward,” Urschel said.
Council President Wes Smith urged Urschel to continue the request to the county while he and the council — which has two new members and one who previously served — digests the information.
“This is a brand new council and this is a lot of information for them to digest at first without being familiar with the budget,” Smith said. “(But) … there is an urgent need there.”
The later morning departure is to make sure the guests aren’t leaving when kids are on the way to school in the same area.
“We don’t think that’s a healthy thing to have going on,” Urschel said. “They’re also going by a lot of the bus stops as well.”
The extended morning time will help address loitering and camping out on sidewalks, Urschel added, and help the guests move on to new opportunities in housing, employment and treatment.
Eventually Bridges of Hope wants to increase the daytime option to five days a week, then into the weekend before ultimately operating 24 hours, seven days a week. Increasing the daytime program to five days would cost an additional $2,912 per month and is part of a future phase.
Urschel also asked council to consider an anti-loitering/anti-camping ordinance to clear the sidewalks and parking lots of homeless, hopefully getting them into the shelter instead. He said with no consequences to behavior, many adults choose to camp out instead of abiding by the shelter rules.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.