Cincinnati Business Courier Profiles Lighthouse President & CEO Paul Haffner
September 29, 2021 — Lighthouse President and CEO Paul Haffner sat down with the Cincinnati Business Courier’s Chris Wetterich for an interview as part of the Courier’s series of profiles of the leaders of the City’s largest nonprofit organizations. Below is an excerpt from the article.
Lighthouse has a goal of ending youth homelessness. How did the pandemic affect that situation and your progress toward that goal? What needs to happen to make it a reality?
We were making progress. We have incredible community partnerships (with organizations that house children and families). Covid stalled things a bit. It put a lot of pressure on congregate care facilities and the family shelters were especially impacted. We’re fortunate we have individual bedrooms throughout Lighthouse, (but) we still had to restrict occupancy. We really need what I’ll call a community will, and each and every individual has to have a personal desire to no longer accept homelessness as a cost of doing business in a capitalist society. You’re not going to magically end (the problem). But we could do so much more for our kids and adults. We need people to say, “Enough is enough, I’m not going to tolerate seeing a 15-year-old on the street, living as a victim of trafficking.” I’m going to put resources where we can fix that.
What are the biggest challenges facing nonprofits like Lighthouse right now?
We’ve got to start with Covid. We’re blessed that most of our facilities have individual bedrooms. That might get tough in September. Staffing is the other huge issue. We used to think of our competition for youth workers and case managers (the key employee positions) as the hospital networks. They can pay more money. But now the competition includes Amazon, FedEx. Even Dunkin Donuts is paying $20 an hour. We have loyal, strong employees who want to work for us.
How would you want your employees to describe you?
As a leader, you can’t get too high and you can’t get too low. Sometimes there are dramatic problems. Sometimes they are perceived to be really troubling issues. I want to patiently receive information and help them process and find a solution.
The complete article is available here.