October 7, 2015

Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton hosts homeless community summit

The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton hosted a community summit in September with the Homeless Continuum of Care of Stark County. More than 90 community leaders and stakeholders attended to learn about national goals to end homelessness, local efforts to meet those goals, the funding needed to support these efforts and the future management of the Homeless Continuum of Care of Stark County.

Attendees learned that operating a continuum of care is a requirement for communities to receive significant federal funding to supports homeless programs. The Homeless Continuum of Care of Stark County was formally established in 2013. Functioning with one part-time staff member, two foundation staff members whose time is donated and a coalition of volunteers, the continuum receives nearly $2.3 million annually from the federal government for local housing and support services programs. At the summit, the group revealed that its current staffing arrangement was not sustainable, and the group used the summit to explain and weigh its options for a more suitable, long-term continuum structure.

Jean Van Ness, senior program officer at the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton and board chair for the local continuum, said to attendees, “We have to confront the question, as a community, of how this work is going to continue.”

According to the Continuum's first annual report, distributed at the event, an estimated more than 2,800 Stark County residents will experience homelessness in 2015.

The event's featured speakers were Katie Kitchin, director of the Ohio office of the Corporation for Supportive Housing, and Kevin Finn, president and CEO of Strategies to End Homelessness, Inc., in Cincinnati. 

Kitchin discussed homelessness in the national context, including the federal government's requirements, funding strategies and goals for ending homelessness. She said, “Stay at the table and roll up your sleeves. This work is incredibly rewarding and a great opportunity for you to make a difference in your community.”

Finn agreed. He said, "Homelessness is very much a problem that can be solved."

Strategies to End Homelessness manages the Cincinnati/Hamilton County continuum of care. Finn recounted the successes and challenges that the organization has experienced in coordinating necessary services, applying for federal funding, engaging community partners and working toward ending homelessness.

“You can't get everybody rowing in the same direction if you don't let them in the boat," he said. He encouraged those in attendance to work together to find the best option for the Stark County Continuum's future.

The Stark County Continuum plans to establish a nonprofit organization to manage its work, which will require political leaders, funders and service providers working together to ensure the structure's sustainability.

For more information on the Summit, including the options for the continuum's structure presented at the event, click here to read an article from the Alliance Review.

The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System.

About Us

From its Cleveland headquarters, the Sisters of Charity Health System provides oversight, leadership and strategic direction to more than 20 organizations responding to community needs in Canton and Cleveland, Ohio, and South Carolina.

Follow us on Twitter