Prevent HomelessnessStrategies to End Homelessness is working to prevent homelessness.

A nationally-recognized best practice, Shelter Diversion is the most cost-effective strategy to prevent homelessness. It prevents households, primarily families, from needing emergency shelter or ending up on the street.

Preventing homelessness is always preferable. Because it spares the family the trauma of experiencing homelessness. And it costs the system less to stabilize them. This makes it an efficient program. And that allows us to serve more households.

How Shelter Diversion Works

The program targets households that already lost their housing. These households are “doubled up”, relying on others for a place to stay. And finally, they are out of options. The program provides rental assistance and case management for 3-6 months to restore people to stable housing. Additionally, we serve as the lead agency of this program and collaborate with Bethany House Services, Found House Interfaith Housing Network, and Freestore Foodbank.

At-risk households are identified through our Central Access Point (CAP) Helpline. CAP is Hamilton County’s emergency shelter centralized intake. When a household calls CAP for assistance, we determine if there is an opportunity to divert the caller away from homelessness.

The alternative for people who are about to become homeless and cannot get into the Shelter Diversion program is emergency shelter. Shelter beds are consistently full or well over capacity. Beds that become available in shelters are often filled within the hour. Homelessness prevention funding allows us to divert hundreds of families and their children from shelter each year. And help them back on the path of self-sufficiency, ensuring each shelter bed is reserved for those most in need.

Most Cost-Effective Program

Shelter Diversion continues to be the most cost-effective way to target resources toward people that who are at the greatest risk of being homeless. It is cost effective while also saving people from the trauma of experiencing homelessness.  44% of whom are children.

The Data

Due to many factors, the number of people provided with Shelter Diversion services declined by 24% from 2016-2019. However, the availability of COVID relief and state funding made it possible to provide Shelter Diversion services to more households over the past two years. As a result, the number of people served in Shelter Diversion in 2021 increased by 12% (1,181 people) from 2020 (1,059 people). And it increased by 29% since 2019 (914).