CINCINNATI — Many homeless shelters across Ohio are already at capacity and looking for ways to make room for others in the months to come as the deadline looms for protections on evictions.
“That is one of the issues I feel like we have here in Cincinnati,” said Nahamai Yisrael, who was has been homeless.
Yisrael said it's a hidden problem.
“I feel like we try to hide our homeless problems,” said Yisrael.
And one day, she was in the middle of it.
“It got really bad, really quick for us,” she said.
Yisrael and her two children ended up at the Bethany House, a homeless shelter in Cincinnati.
“We went through a really bad divorce. One day we woke up, we had a home, I was married, and later that day we had to leave our home and we had to figure it out,” Yisrael said.
She said it was a struggle for months and she worries more will end up in the same struggle because of an emergency order that’s going away.
“For families that are just barely making it through, it’s scary,” Yisrael said.
That emergency order put evictions on hold last year because of the pandemic, but it’s only good through the end of January.
Organizers said they’re already seeing more families looking for shelter, but when Yisrael looks at the empty lot where the new shelter will go, she sees the same thing Bethany House CEO Susan Schiller sees.
“We’ll be knocking down this group home, and the building will take up half of the property here,” Schiller said.
Schiller has a $14 million vision to help hundreds of families.
“What goes through my mind is I can hardly wait until we can open this facility,” Schiller said.
She said they still have about $2M left to raise before they start construction on the new Bethany House shelter.
Yisrael will help make some of the decisions along the way.
“I wanna make sure the families' voices are heard loud and clear and that we’re doing everything we can from a perspective that is helpful,” Yisrael said
Nearly two decades after Yisrael was homeless she sits on the shelter’s board, runs her own marketing business and hopes to help others hidden all around us.
“It’s gonna help raise awareness so we can tackle to big issues and hopefully put an end to homelessness,” Yisrael said.
Organizers hope to start construction on the new shelter by February.