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Pantry

1 John 3:17 gives us a very strict charge when it says, “Suppose someone sees a brother or sister in need and is able to help them. If he doesn’t take pity on them, how can the love of God be in him?” A group of church members took this charge seriously and so Serve City’s food pantry began over 20 years ago in the basement of a local church.  As the need continued to increase we noticed most the people coming for food were coming from the inner city. Due to the lack of transportation, people were unable to easily access the pantry. With much prayer and determination, it was decided the pantry would move to downtown Hamilton. This move gave us the opportunity to meet the people where they are.

Times are still hard and the need is continuing to increase. Every day we open pantry we have new families who have never before been to a pantry. We pray for continued strength and ability to meet these new needs as they arise.


Chosen

In 2001, the Board of Directors of Serve City was discussing the extreme lack of resources, including shelter, for the homeless in the area. One area pastor commented that it was tragic that we had local churches sitting empty at night when people had no where to sleep. “Chosen” was born from this compassion.

Several area churches agreed to host the homeless one week at a time until we could establish a permanent shelter. We would literally move the entire shelter and people to a different church every Sunday.

Finally, in 2002, our remodeling was finished and Chosen moved permanently into our current location at 622 East Avenue, and we have continued to improve and expand services since then!  We currently provide shelter for up to 40 men and 12 women.

CHOICES

Serve City developed CHOICES to create a solution to a growing housing problem in the community. There was a breakdown in the housing system that left too many people without housing options. Many of them would end up in one of Butler County’s three emergency shelters and truly have no where else to go. CHOICES is providing transitional housing for homeless residents needing additional time to get back on their feet and PERMANENT housing for those falling through the cracks of existing services but requiring a supporting housing environment. CHOICES is providing 48 beds in 12 apartments and will follow a best-practice, resident-managed model developed by the Low Income Housing Institute in Seattle, Washington. We believe a resident-managed model will provide the best option for managing these units because we deal daily with individuals that want safe, drug free housing and are willing to participate in keeping their home in this manner.

In a resident-managed model, residents collectively set the ground rules for the property and violators have to answer to a tenant-led association.  When residents participate in the management process, they feel a sense of ownership and will be far more likely to monitor resident activities and report rule violations. In addition to participating in management of the property, tenants are required to pay a minimal rent to live at CHOICES. One of the most attractive elements of this program is its long term financial stability. As a part of its application to the Federal Home Loan Bank, officials had to prepare and provide fifteen year financial projections.  The projections indicate that the affordable rents paid by the tenants will provide the necessary revenue for the project to be self-sustaining.  Residents of CHOICES will also have access to many area social service agencies.

In addition to the financial commitment by the Federal Home Loan Bank, the City of Hamilton has committed federal HOME funds toward this project. CHOICES is now entering its 5th year of operation. The apartments are in good repair and the vision of CHOICES is still going strong.


Shekinah Place

Shekinah Place is Serve City’s 25 efficiency unit apartments located at 522 East Ave in Hamilton. Shekinah Place, which means the presence of God on earth or a symbol or manifestation of His presence, was opened in 2011 through the hard work and generosity of many individuals and churches.  Serve City was privileged to receive funding for Shekinah Place from the City of Hamilton through HOME funds and from the Federal Home Loan Bank.

Shekinah Place is located just one block from the Serve City Chosen homeless shelter, which makes it an ideal transition option for people coming out of shelter life. The concept for Shekinah Place began many years ago when the lack of affordable housing in the Hamilton area became evident. People would leave the shelter and they did not have sufficient income to afford housing that would get them away from the drug and alcohol infested life style from which they came.  It was with this thought that Shekinah Place was developed.  Shekinah Place is drug and alcohol free.  There are additional rules that go with living at Shekinah Place. Also, each resident is required to do 10 hours of community service each month in order to better the community around them. Shekinah Place is resident managed.  This means that there is a resident committee that is responsible for overseeing the activities that take place. This added responsibility gives each resident a say in how they are governed and what rules are kept in place and which rules are eliminated.  Residents also have a decision in who moves over and has the opportunity to join in their community. This ownership mentality gives each resident the opportunity to be responsible for their decisions in a very real way.

Shekinah Place has been open for over two years now and is nearly always at capacity. What we at Serve City have learned over the last two years with this project is that if you give people the opportunity to live a structured, drug and alcohol free lifestyle, they will, more times than not, take this opportunity and do more with it than you could have ever imagined.