New, Innovative Plan to End Local Youth Homelessness Launched

New, Innovative Plan to End Local Youth Homelessness Launched

Young People Who Experienced Homelessness Participated In All Planning and Decision-Making

CINCINNATI (MARCH 5, 2019) – Strategies to End Homelessness, in partnership with Lighthouse Youth & Family Services, Family Housing Partnership, and Children’s Law Center is proud to announce the launch of the KEYS to a Future Without Youth Homelessness plan. The Family Housing Partnership includes Bethany House, Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Cincinnati, Salvation Army, and YWCA Greater Cincinnati.

Lighthouse is the lead agency for KEYS, a community effort to create an innovative system that ensures all young people ages 18-24 have access to safe, affordable, and stable housing. The KEYS plan was developed after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) selected Cincinnati/Hamilton County in January 2017 to receive $3.8 million in funding for HUD’s Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program. Strategies to End Homelessness and Lighthouse worked with a broad array of partners to create the plan, relying specifically on the ideas and recommendations provided by young people who experienced homelessness. HUD approved the plan in January 2018.

“We are proud to have strong leaders in our community already serving this population, but with this new funding, we are thrilled to be able to push the boundaries of how the system responds as a whole to the unique needs of youth experiencing homelessness,” said Kevin Finn, President and CEO, Strategies to End Homelessness.

Since the beginning of the process to design and implement the KEYS plan, youth and young adults with lived experiences of homelessness have been treated as the experts and involved in planning and decision-making.

“Not a decision was made without young people being at the table saying, ‘This is what we think will work for us’,’” said Bonita Campbell, Vice President of Homeless Youth Services at Lighthouse. “It has been really important as well as rewarding to work with them throughout this entire process. They said what they wish could have been different and what would have helped them along the way to end their homelessness more quickly. Their voices drove every aspect of the plan.”

The KEYS plan is designed to:
• Reduce the percentage of young people who become homeless by over 50% by 2020.
• Reduce the average length of homeless episodes from 38 days to 21 days by 2020.
• Increase the percentage of young people who become permanently housed after leaving shelter to 80% by 2020.

The KEYS plan is about redesigning the current system, maximizing our community’s assets, and closing the gaps in service. The goal is to have a system that is easy to navigate for young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

“A staff attorney from the Children’s Law Center will work with partner agencies, as a member of the KEYS team, seeking to remove legal barriers to sustainable housing. The attorney will be based out of the Lighthouse Sheakley Center for Youth two-three days a week and will provide direct representation, counsel and advice, and educational sessions,” said Acena Beck, Executive Director, Children’s Law Center.

The Family Housing Partnership brings its expertise serving parents and children to the KEYS project. “We have served youth parents for a long time,” said Sarah Wagner, Director of Social Ministries at the Salvation Army. “We are excited to bring that experience to this partnership with Lighthouse and the KEYS project. We are ready to make homelessness something rare, something that doesn’t have to happen for young people taking on the role of parenting.”

One of the biggest innovations to come out of the KEYS plan is the creation of a Youth Dedicated Services Team. The team of case managers will work with young people one-on-one for up to 24 months to help connect them with whatever services they need and try to ensure they never become homeless again.

“Having to talk to multiple case managers can be so overwhelming. One caseworker knows this, the other knows that,” said Arianna Jones, President of the Lighthouse Youth Advisory Council. “My situation happened almost three years ago, and I feel that pain all over again every time I talk about it.”

There is also a new data dashboard that tracks how many young people are experiencing homelessness, how long they are homeless, and whether they become homeless again. The process of reviewing the public dashboard will facilitate an unprecedented level of impact, change, and accountability.

About Strategies to End Homelessness

Since 2007, Strategies to End Homelessness has led a comprehensive system of care to prevent and eventually end homelessness in Cincinnati/Hamilton County. Working in partnership with 30 non-profit organizations, Strategies to End Homelessness coordinates a centralized emergency shelter hotline, homelessness prevention, street outreach, emergency shelter and housing solutions with the goal of ending homelessness. Strategies to End Homelessness is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, the City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, is a United Way Agency Partner, and a Better Business Bureau Accredited Charity. To learn more about Strategies to End Homelessness, and the community’s integrated network of homeless services agencies, visit:

About Lighthouse Youth & Family Services

Mission: Empower young people and families to succeed through a continuum of care that promotes healing and growth
Vision: To be the leader in creating a community where every young person has the opportunity to thrive
Lighthouse Youth & Family Services is dedicated to providing the best services and compassionate care to children, youth, and families. The nonprofit agency serves ages 0-24 and is a nationally recognized innovator in services for young people and families in crisis, young people experiencing homelessness, and youth involved with the juvenile justice system. Lighthouse provides emergency shelter, early childhood intervention, education and life skills training, foster care and adoption, youth housing, residential treatment, community juvenile justice services, and mental health services. All Lighthouse services are trauma-informed, strength-based, and fully accredited and licensed.

About Family Housing Partnership
The Family Housing Partnership (FHP) comprised of Bethany House Services, Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Cincinnati, The Salvation Army, and YWCA Greater Cincinnati is a 19-year collaborative formed to address the unique needs of families across the existing family shelters. FHP is specifically committed to maximizing financial resources, avoiding duplication, and creating best practice standards across systems of care.

About Bethany House Services
MISSION: Bethany House Services empowers homeless and at-risk families with the solutions to achieve housing stability and long-term self-sufficiency.
OUR VISION: To live in a community where all families have a place to call home and no one spends a night without shelter.
Bethany House serves families in the Greater Cincinnati area at one of five shelter sites and in a variety of housing programs. Special programming surrounds the children, matching them with quality daycare and transportation to stay in school, as well as a variety of services to heal from their trauma. For more information, visit

About Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Cincinnati
MISSION: To provide homeless families emergency shelter and hospitality through interfaith communities and to work with families to find and retain stable housing.
Since 1991, our network has grown to include over 100 congregational partners, representing people of Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, and Unitarian faiths. Congregations provide overnight shelter and meals for homeless families in our Emergency Shelter program. IHNGC has also grown and enhanced the services offered over the years to provide wraparound support for the whole family that extends beyond Emergency Shelter.

About The Salvation Army
MISSION: The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination
The Salvation Army has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination for over 130 years in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky region. Nearly 30 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through the broadest array of social services that range from providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children.

About YWCA Greater Cincinnati Services
MISSION: YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.
In support of this mission, YWCA provides community programs that further the values of peace, justice, equality, and human dignity for women and other minorities. YWCA programs empower survivors of intimate partner violence through 24-hour crisis line assistance and emergency domestic violence shelter, housing for survivors, intimate partner violence crisis intervention services, community outreach, violence prevention education, public awareness campaigns, court advocacy, and group services to confront and ultimately change attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that condone any and all forms of violence against individuals.

About Children’s Law Center
The Children’s Law Center (CLC), established in 1989, is a non-profit legal service center protecting the rights of children and youth to help them overcome barriers and transition to adulthood, better advocate for their needs, and successfully contribute to society. It provides individual legal advocacy to children and youth, and through public policy work, training and education, impact litigation, and juvenile defender support services, seeks to improve the systems that serve them. CLC offers services in both Kentucky and Ohio, and collaborates with other organizations within the region and nationally on a variety of topics. To learn more, visit