Together for Shelter

Kimberly Bash photo

I often tell people I have the best job in Hancock County. Growing up in Mt. Blanchard and living most of my life in this county, I get such joy in helping strengthen my home communities. In a few months, I will celebrate being at The Community Foundation for 22 years following stints as a nonprofit director, college adjunct, and education administrator in communities all over northern Ohio. Without a doubt, my work in Hancock County has been the most meaningful and impactful.

Each day, I get to work with amazing community partners inside and outside the Foundation. Nonprofit partners, government and business leaders, and community volunteers – all of whom have a passion for our community and want to make a difference. Over and over again, you will hear those partners state how special it is to live and work here. I believe this is because of our collaborative spirit. Everything comes down to relationships and being able to work together for good. Many places don’t have the trust and deep connections that we have in Hancock County. Because of this, we have made strides faster than most when it comes to addressing our community’s most complex issues.

This sense of collaboration has increased significantly in the housing sector. In 2019, local partners came together to commission a full market housing study and action plan. That study is now being updated to better understand where improvements have been made and where more work is needed. The pandemic led to the creation of an Eviction Prevention Task Force to help stabilize families in crisis. The last year has seen those relationships expand further through the unhoused coalition with more focus being given to our homeless population.

So many concerned and passionate community partners have given their time, talent, and treasure to collectively find housing solutions for area residents in need. We are proud to walk alongside others committed to this work. Because of the generosity of our donors, our common good (unrestricted) and field of interest funds have been able to leverage support for eviction prevention, critical home repairs, the Financial Opportunity Center, two housing studies, area shelter improvements, Affordable Housing Alliance strategic planning process, Greater Ohio Policy Center Housing Learning Exchange participation, warming shelters on several occasions, the St. Andrew’s Annex project, Martha’s House, and other related projects.

Housing, like other complex community issues, can’t be solved by one organization or funder. It takes all of us working together, aligning our efforts, leveraging our resources, sharing our expertise and data to get at the root causes of these problems and truly turn the tide. I would love to personally thank each person who is working hard each day to strengthen our community. You make a difference and we at The Community Foundation are grateful to play a role in improving the quality of life for all in Hancock County!

This editorial was originally printed in The Courier Friday, December 15, 2023.