MEDINA — A drop-in homeless shelter is close to becoming a reality in Medina County.
State Rep. Sharon Ray, R-Wadsworth, helped secure $100,000 in proposed fiscal year 2022 funding to the Medina County commissioners to develop plans and initiate construction of a Medina County homeless shelter.
The Ohio House approved House Bill 110, otherwise known as the two-year state operating budget for fiscal years 2022-23. Ray said it still has to be approved by the Ohio Senate and signed by Gov. Mike DeWine. The two-year budget needs to be passed by July 1. The legislation highlights include a new school funding reform plan, tax relief, jobs and economic support and several other initiatives.
Ray called the $100,000 “seed money.” She said she anticipates getting some additional federal money through the CARES Act for the project to use for “bricks and mortar.”
County Commissioner Steve Hambley, formerly in Ray’s seat, said Medina County officials originally asked for $500,000 for the project. Ray said she would alert Sen. Mark Romanchuk, R-Ontario, that Medina County officials would be calling.
She said she appreciates all the nonprofits, agencies and faith-based agencies and churches that have been helping the homeless. Ray said Medina County is the largest county in the state that doesn’t have a homeless shelter.
“This can’t come soon enough,” she said.
Ray said she has a good feeling this will be approved.
“We have the documented need,” she said. “We need to coordinate everyone and find a permanent solution.
“It’s wonderful having everybody working together on. This is something we need to move forward on. Full speed ahead. I’m anxious to get the money.”
Hambley said Skip Sipos, director of the Medina Metropolitan Housing Authority, and Phil Titterington, director of the Medina County ADAMH Board, will speak about the matter at the commissioners meeting May 11.
Sipos said he is heading up an ad-hoc committee of the Medina County Housing Network, which is composed of nonprofits and government agencies that focus on housing and was formed in 2004.
He said the homeless shelter is in its “embryonic stages.”
Still to be decided is where it will be located and how many beds are needed. Sipos said it needs to be located where people can find employment and other services.
“The beauty of this is we have some very smart people working on this, and I’m not talking about myself,” he said.
Sipos referred to Hambley, Ray, Titterington and Terri Heckman, CEO of the Battered Women’s Shelter of Summit and Medina Counties, among others.
“You can’t beat Medina County,” he said. “It’s flippin’ wonderful.
“We have a lot of organizations that assist the homeless. What we don’t have is a concerted, collaborative effort.”
He said the housing network is studying all the data and looking at potential sites.
“One size doesn’t always fit all,” Sipos said.
Hambley said the $100,000 is a good start.
“We want to help these people transition into a stable life and address some of the issues that brought them to that point,” he said.
Hambley said Medina County Sheriff Terry Grice has asked about transitional housing for those leaving jail. Those former inmates, some convicted felons, can’t be housed in the same shelter with some families.
He said Sipos and Titterington will come before the commissioners and discuss what population the shelter wants to serve, drug issues, develop its score and talk to area churches.
Hambley said this project was discussed 15-20 years ago, but the county didn’t have the resources to fund it.
Medina Mayor Dennis Hanwell got the ball rolling by inviting people to a homeless coalition meeting a few months ago. Those meetings included the Salvation Army, United Way, Love in the Name of Christ Medina County, OPERATION: Homes, and several churches, including Grace Church Medina East.
“The plan was to have all the agencies putting up homeless in hotels and other places to provide data to Skip at MMHA to have a more accurate accounting of our true needs,” Hanwell said. “Once the data is compiled, Skip planned to make a presentation to the Medina County commissioners. By having an actual shelter, (there would be an) opportunity to present wraparound services to try to assist people in need to job openings, transportation needs, medical care, mental health care and substance abuse services that are not provided if just placed in a hotel room for a period of time.”