A new homeless shelter is being planned

June 1st, 2007    Author: Rodney Beckwith    Filed Under: News

A recent meeting of key individuals in the Clermont County community has helped spur progress on the new Clermont County Homeless Shelter.

Billie Kuntz, executive director of community action, said that the meeting, held last week, included several key members of the community in a communication and strategy discussion designed to map out a plan of action.

“We had a lot of communication, a lot of ideas tossed around,” said Kuntz. “There were about 10 people there. We’ve also had people give a commitment to do foundation work, plumbing, and HVAC. We’re starting to generate a lot of support for donations.”

The homeless shelter currently sits near Mercy Hospital Clermont on Hospital Drive. However, the structure is small and aging, and can’t come close to meeting the demand of homeless individuals in the community. A long-term plan to construct a new shelter gained speed a few months ago when the Batavia Township Trustees entered into a lease with community action to provide a key piece of land for the project.

"Right now, we just have the site development completed, and we're hopeful of breaking ground in the fall," said Kuntz. "We expect to see this completed no later than June of 2008. We're hoping to go to some of the larger businesses and see if we can get some donations that way. When we see if we get the grant, that will let us know how much of a shortfall we have so we know what we need to get."

In all, the project is expected to cost about $650,000, but with every donation of time and material, that final cost is being reduced. Currently, Kuntz said that there has been progress made, but more will have to be done before the project can break ground.

"We've raised $110,000 so far," said Kuntz. "We've received $25,000 from the 5/3 Foundation, $25,000 from PNC Charitable Trust, $60,000 from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and we've also applied for a CBDG grant with the county and the federal loan bank."

A large portion of the project's overall cost, the planning and engineering, has been eliminated through the donation of time by a local engineering firm, said Kuntz. Gifts like this, she said, will help the project proceed quicker and, due to the local ties, create a homeless shelter with greater community support in the future.

"Santoro Engineering really needs to be recognized," said Kuntz. "They've already donated their time for site work for the land. They're also going to be working with us on architectural plans. They're doing all of that free of charge."

Batavia Township Trustee Lee Cornett has continued to lend his support to the project, coordinating the recent meeting and helping Kuntz to find new support in the county.

"Lee Cornett, the Batavia Township Trustee, helped out by organizing this meeting," said Cornett. "These were mainly key players in the community with something invested who can play a part in making this successful. Lee also introduced us to Santoro Engineering."

To learn more about the shelter, or to donate to the construction, call Billie Kuntz at (513) 735-8802.
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