CityHeart first began as a hospitality ministry at the parish office of Christ Episcopal Church in downtown Dayton. By 2006 this ministry expanded to address more complex needs such as food insecurity, housing and emergency assistance. In 2011 they took over the entire church undercroft and registered as a 501 © non-profit in 2016. Now they are operating remotely. Through it all they’ve remained closely affiliated with Christ Episcopal Church.
As they explained in their 2019 ECM grant application, “CityHeart represents to both the congregation and the public the reality of Christ Episcopal Church in Dayton, Ohio. It is a ministry of presence in the heart of the city.”
CityHeart strives to improve the lives of the needy, transient and homeless people by “listening with compassion and care, responding appropriately to immediate and emergency needs, and connecting people with other community resources for long term solutions.” Under normal circumstances, City Heart is open Monday-Friday providing a broad range of walk-in and phone services providing food/hunger resources, utility assistance, housing resources & rental assistance, transportation, identification documents, and access to medical/mental health resources. Source
Due to the physical distancing protocols necessitated by the Covid-19 crisis, CityHeart is now closed to walk-in visitors. However, the organization continues to actively provide assistance by email (email@example.com) and by phone 937-223-2489.
Kris Sexton, Director of CityHeart, shares how they have stepped up during the pandemic to directly assist a struggling population whose need for emergency assistance is growing exponentially:
As the primary congregational outreach at Christ Church Dayton, 70% of the services provided by CityHeart are for emergency assistance on rent and utility situations for low income individuals and working families.
While we are unfortunately closed to walk-in clients during the COVID-19 Crisis and State of Ohio Stay at Home order, CityHeart immediately set up to receive all of our requests for emergency assistance by phone and email. Staff members are working daily, Monday through Friday, to respond to our neighbors in need and assist in making rent and utility payments on their behalf. Here is a sample of the stories we are encountering.
Today’s Good News! COVID-19 Response – March 21
This very sad story of a single woman undergoing chemotherapy, whose surgery was delayed due to COVID-19 outbreak, who can’t work and currently has no income. She is waiting on Social Security Disability to be processed and can’t afford to pay all of her rent. She is getting as much help from her family as they can afford. This client is hoping to work with the local Community Action Agency but they are now closed for in-person appointments. CityHeart was available to address her situation over the phone, talking with her and contacting her landlord in New Jersey to verify the situation. Combined with what she can pay and what CityHeart has just paid on her behalf, it will be enough to keep the out-of-state landlord satisfied for now! We pray that her application for rental assistance will be processed soon, that her Social Security Disability gets approved, and hopefully some stimulus funds may come her way to assist when the rent becomes due again. God Bless! ❤️
Today’s Good News! COVID-19 Response – March 25
In this family of three, normally able to pay their bills, both adults have lost wages due to COVID-19. They were under a shut-off notice from Vectren for their heating bill which has now been temporarily suspended. The minimum amount due is about $150.00. They received a pledge from one of our St. Vincent DePaul partners, and they were able to pay a small portion. CityHeart agreed to pay the balance due at this time to stop the risk of disconnection when the suspension is lifted. As we move into Spring temperatures the heating usage should go down, and they hope to be receiving unemployment at that time, possibly some federal aid as well. But those funds are not coming fast enough and they were very worried. CityHeart was happy to resolve the issue before we get slammed with similar requests, and hope this family will be eligible for assistance to get through a season of uncertainty. ❤️
Today’s Good News! COVID-19 Friday, March 27
This homeless couple has been staying at a local Motel 6 because putting together enough money for a full month’s rent and deposit is just unmanageable for them. Both have lost wages, sent home due to the Coronavirus. They just used their last money to pay for their room for tonight. They will have some funds coming on Monday but they’ll need to get through the weekend. CityHeart generally does NOT pay for a motel, but we agreed to pay for Saturday and we negotiated with the manager who offered them a FREE night for Sunday. They will be able to pay on Monday and both have job interviews coming up, we wished them good luck on that! Thanks to Motel 6 for partnering with us to help! ❤️
CityHeart will continue to post updates on their CityHeart Facebook page.