winter shelter

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

For the first time in several years, Cincinnati's winter shelter for the homeless will be located in one facility.

The new Barron Center for Men in Queensgate has 200 beds in a 10,000 sq. ft. square foot area.  It features separate restroom facilities for men and women, a lobby area for new intakes, and two intake offices.

Cincinnati Council could soon be asked to add homeless status or perceived homeless status to the city's hate crimes law.

Council Member Chris Seelbach and others are making the announcement Thursday during a press conference near the Drop Inn Center in Over-the-Rhine.

"Which means that if police determine that the crime was committed because the person was homeless or perceived to be homeless, then a judge could add up to 180 days on the sentence of the person who committed the crime," Seelbach said.

Not surprisingly, more homeless people have been seeking refuge from the bitter cold temperatures at Cincinnati's winter shelter. 

About 60 beds are used at the Drop Inn Center and another 40 are located at Prince of Peace Church in Over-the-Rhine.  They are available from December through February.  

Officials told a city council committee Monday so far this winter about 600 different people have stayed at the shelter.  That's the same number served all of last winter.  The majority of them are males and range in age from 18 to 59. 

Cincinnati Council is asking city administrators to find $30,000 for the emergency winter shelter for this season.  

Various groups operate the program including the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition.  Executive Director Josh Spring addressed Council's Budget and Finance Committee Thursday.

“Last year 600 different people came through the winter shelter’s doors,” Spring said.

Spring said this year the groups are having trouble raising money for the program.