As businesses, restaurants and organizations close their doors in response to the Covid-19 virus, the Rotary Club of Cincinnati has opened its wallet – announcing the club is donating $50,000 to help provide rent and utility assistance for families in need.
The donation to the St. Vincent de Paul Homelessness Prevention Program comes at a particularly critical time, said Mike Dunn, executive director of the Society of St. Vincent DePaul in Greater Cincinnati.
“St Vincent de Paul is the leading provider of what we call homelessness prevention services, which is largely rent and utility support,” said Dunn. “In the past calendar year we provided $1.6 million in assistance. That ongoing need is exacerbated by this current crisis.”
In response to the health crisis, St. Vincent de Paul closed all of its Thrift Stores, which were a major economic engine that helped fund the rent and utility assistance.
“The timing of this donation could not have been better,” said Dunn.
“These dollars from the Rotary will, literally, keep people in their homes.”
Rotary Club of Cincinnati President Dave Carlin said he called an on-line meeting of the Rotary Club’s Board on March 18 to find a way to help in this community crisis.
“We know there are people in the restaurant and service industries, people in hourly jobs, who are hurting and need help now. We wanted to make a swift, targeted impact to help those in need, particularly in the inner-city,” said Carlin.
“We don’t have the infrastructure to directly help. If we had to do it ourselves, it would take weeks or months to perfect it. We wanted to partner with someone who was already out there meeting the needs.”
The St. Vincent de Paul Homelessness Prevention Program works with individuals to assess needs. The program provides funds directly to landlords or utility companies.
“Our average rent assistance for a neighbor is about $350,” said Dunn. “In an eviction situation, where a notice has been served, is it over $600.”
Besides providing immediate financial assistance, the program helps individuals work toward long-term solutions with financial literacy, budget counseling, job readiness and other resources.
“Once someone loses their home, the cost to the system in community services and resources is $4000,” said Dunn. “The economics of prevention make sense. But more importantly is the trauma to the family and the kids involved that homelessness can cause.”
One of the Rotary’s missions is to serve children in need. “This donation will keep children in their homes,” said Carlin.
The Rotary Club of Cincinnati is a service and networking organization made up of business and community leaders. Its mission is to provide selfless service in the community and the world.