by Bri Malaska — Tuesday, August 10th 2021
As many local groups work to combat homelessness in Toledo, one shelter is hoping to make a difference through a proactive approach.
Recent data shows that the national homeless population is continuing to grow for the fourth year in a row — a statistic leaders at the St. Paul's Community Center are hoping to change.
New grant funding is helping the shelter meet those in need where they are.
"The old-fashioned way was wait for the homeless to come to the shelter and we'll help you and we'll house you when you're ready. Right now, that's not the case anymore," explained Joe Habib, president and CEO of St. Paul's.
St. Paul's Community Center President and CEO Joe Habib is hoping to rethink the way he helps the homeless community in Toledo with new grant funding from the ProMedica Ebeid Neighborhood Promise.
"This grant will help us to give us the flexibility to hire a case worker whose specific job is to leave the office and go where the homeless are on the streets, establish that rapport with them, engage with them and hopefully house them."
He says the new position will give the case worker the opportunity to focus on those living on the streets who aren't willing to come get help, many times due to severe trauma.
"They’ve been abused, they have mental health issues, maybe they have substance abuse issues, they may have physical limitations, I mean you name it, they may have it. So our flexibility and our ability to reach out to them opens the door for them literally and figuratively."
The funding is part of a separate grant through the Ebeid Neighborhood Promise program that is also working to build up the UpTown neighborhood through safety and beautification efforts.
"We've had calls for things like improving vacant lots, vacant spaces, blighted areas and things like that, increasing signage and just making the neighborhood more accessible to a wide range of people," said Ryan Bunch, director of community initiatives for The Arts Commission.
With the funding just announced, the center will now work to find the most qualified person for the job.