Serve City homeless shelter hopes to improve facilities and capacity

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“So one of the key questions I ask residents every day is, ‘What’s your plan for outside Serve City? Where are you going after that? What are the obstacles preventing you from getting out of here? ‘ Hood said.

Moving forward

Counselors and employees with Access Counseling to help you.

Access and Serve City staff recently helped 12 people gather all of the paperwork needed to get state-issued IDs or driver’s licenses that give them access to other things, like bank accounts .

Legend

Serve City on East Avenue in Hamilton offers several programs to serve homeless and low-income individuals and families in the area. They have a pantry open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

“For some of them that meant writing letters to elementary schools in Tennessee so that they could get some sort of transcript with their name on it because a lot of them don’t have their Social Security cards or their birth certificate, that sort of thing, “he said. Customer affiliation with Serve City has enabled Bureau of Motor Vehicles employees to accept certain documents that they might not otherwise have.

Serve City has a residential homeless shelter where 48 men and 14 women can sleep. It also has group apartments that can accommodate 48 people. And the efficiency apartments serve 26 others. “So all of us together serve around 148 people every day through our shelter,” Hood said.

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The organization recently made some changes to its employees: its base salary was increased to $ 13 an hour, from $ 10, because “we realized that we were struggling to compete with White Castle and Wendy’s,” he said. he declared. By the time he arrived, virtually all of Serve City’s employees had been served by, or lived there at the time, Serve City.

“For many of our people, this was the first job they’ve ever had, and they lacked some of the market skills you need to create a professional-level workforce,” Hood said. But it’s important to have employees who have been homeless themselves, so now around 60 percent of employees have experienced it.

Serve City has construction needs

The main current need of the organization is to relocate.

“Serve City is in desperate need of a move,” Hood said. “We have been in this building for about 20 years. It was meant to be an auto mechanic shop and car dealership, but it was never meant to be a homeless shelter, and it was never meant to be a pantry.

A new building would allow Serve City to move from dozens of people living in bunk beds in a large room to pods, giving people more privacy and preventing bullying and other issues.

Another limitation is the number of people who can find apartments after leaving town, Hood said.

“I can start them in the overnight shelter,” which serves 48 men and 14 women, he said. Then they can move to the residential shelter and then to apartments where they pay rent and continue to learn to live independently, he said.

“The rent for our self-catering apartment is currently $ 350 per month,” he said. “There’s nowhere in Hamilton you can go for that. If you are really lucky you might be able to find a place for double.

And I always tell people, “Imagine doubling your mortgage. For me, that would be totally impractical. And for our residents, this is also the case.

He has asked Butler County officials to use American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money to meet Serve City’s needs, and that request is on hold. Hamilton City Manager Joshua Smith told city council the city is working with county commissioners and the city could potentially provide funding for homelessness issues if it didn’t come from the county.

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Here are other recent efforts:

  • Jeff Gambrell, director of volunteer services and community engagement for Serve City, recently launched a pet pantry for those in need.
  • Because some people refuse to use homeless shelters because they are too concerned about the animals they own, “We talked about… could we provide some kind of pet care system? who would take care of people’s pets while they get back on their feet? ”says Hood.
  • Serve City has a new website: serve-city.org. People can make donations, one-time contributions, or automatic monthly contributions. There are also forms through which people can volunteer or donate goods.
  • The number of volunteers has increased this year. In June, 15 people volunteered. “But now we’re down to about 50,” Gambrell said. “So people are starting to get more comfortable with the environment, they’ve already been vaccinated, or they just feel more confident about where our country is heading, that they’re starting to come out in numbers to help Serve. City. “
Serve City on East Avenue in Hamilton offers several programs to serve homeless and low-income individuals and families in the area.  They have a pantry open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, an overnight shelter, and several longer-term accommodation and apartment options to help the homeless.  NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
Legend

Serve City on East Avenue in Hamilton offers several programs to serve homeless and low-income individuals and families in the area. They have a pantry open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, an overnight shelter, and several longer-term accommodation and apartment options to help the homeless. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham


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