For many, the idea of being without a home is so foreign that it’s almost unimaginable. Americans tend to take household accommodations for granted—things like electricity, in-door plumbing, and heat. But for some, living without the certainty of where you’ll sleep each night has become routine. According to data by the US Census Bureau, 549,928 people were identified as homeless in the United States as of 2016. Of that number, 176,357 homeless individuals were recognized as being “unsheltered.”
The James Sauls Homeless Shelter, located in Batavia, is a safe haven for anyone who’s in desperate need of a place to stay. The shelter opened in 2004 and is operated by Clermont County Community Services Inc. It’s the only homeless shelter in Clermont County.
“We can hold thirty-seven [individuals],” said Billie Kuntz of CCCSI, who also noted that they are “typically always full.” That statement coincides with data from the 2013 Clermont County Community Health Assessment, which counted at least ninety-eight people living in the county without a home. That number doesn’t include those people who come from neighboring counties looking for assistance.
According to Kuntz, the shelter can help around 500 people annually, but limited space means that they “turn away about 700-800 [individuals]in a year.” Since there is no waiting list for admissions, the shelter is consistently full during the winter. “We just tell people to be persistent and call, and see if they can get in.”
The shelter is “always looking for monetary donations, or just helping get the word out,” Kuntz explained. It also receives funding from United Way and the Ohio Developmental Services Agency.
Anyone who might prefer a more hands-on approach to helping out can donate his or her time to assist the shelter in performing its day-to-day operations. Volunteers are often involved with chores like cooking, cleaning, and even landscaping. The shelter generally benefits from the assistance of approximately 2,000 volunteers throughout the year, so there is no shortage of work that can be done.
As far as other services that are offered by the shelter, “We do have people who will do professional services,” said Kuntz, “such as résumés and things like that.” Kuntz also implores anyone who has a surplus of food to consider donating it to the shelter. “That’s our meal for the day, when people bring things like that.”
For more information about the James Sauls Homeless Shelter, please visit www.cccsi.org/shelter.html, or call 513-732-6464.