In this file photo, Kathy Becker, a Butler County homeless advocate, and a Hamilton police officer check on homeless residents in the city.

Hamilton forming task force to combat homelessness

HAMILTON, Ohio -- A task force to combat homelessness has formed in Hamilton as the city ramps up its efforts to deal with the issue that is affecting older and younger residents.

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Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller has been working with several groups, including the Butler County group Family Promise, to get the task force started, the Journal-News reported.

"We have already met with Hamilton Police Department," Moeller said. "(Family Promise) has a draft list of individuals for the task force, including individuals who provide resources to the homeless and mentally ill."

In Butler County, there are more than 775 children classified as homeless, meaning they live in cars, motels or "couch surf" among friends and family, according to Jennifer Withrow, executive director of the Butler County group Family Promise.

The organization is part of a national network addressing family homelessness in the country with more than 200 affiliates in 48 states.

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Moeller and Kathy Becker, a board member of Family Promise, have visited some of the city’s homeless camps to get a better idea of the issue.

"Kathy has visited the camps several times. I have visited them twice with Kathy, with the hope of another visit in December," Moeller said. "At a prior visit, Butler County Veterans Service Commission went with us to speak with an Afghanistan war veteran we met at a homeless camp. The Butler County Veterans Service Commission was able to really help the veteran."

Becker said the task force will be a collaborative effort aimed at tackling the issue of homelessness head-on in Hamilton.

"It will involve social service agencies as well as business, faith based organizations, and any interested parties," she said.

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Moeller added that, "we will meet in January 2018 to further discuss the task force goals.”

Homelessness declined in Ohio according to the latest national estimate by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The agency’s report revealed that in Ohio, local communities reported 10,095 persons experienced homelessness on a single night in 2017, an overall decrease of 3 percent since last year and a decline of 19.7 percent since 2010.

Homelessness among families with children declined by 1.5 percent (or 51 persons) since 2016 and declined by 29.8 percent (1,443) since 2010.

The Journal-News is a media partner of WCPO - 9 On Your Side.

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