Who We Are
Heart of Ohio Homeless Shelter, formally Marion Shelter Program, Inc., has provided emergency homeless shelter services for Marion, Crawford, Wyandot, Morrow, Union & Delaware counties since 1988.
With support from our communities, we compassionately address the needs of homeless individuals and families by providing safe shelter, basic necessities, and a structured opportunity to regain sustainable self-sufficiency.
In the 1980's, Reverend Ted L. Blumenstein of the Marion St. Paul Episcopal Church decided to tackle the problem of homelessness in the county. Through his church, he organized a weekly "soup kitchen" and provided limited housing for those who found themselves homeless on the cold Ohio nights. He realized that the need was larger than most had anticipated. As a result, with community support, the first homeless shelter in Marion was formed. With this, in 1988, the Marion Shelter Program became an incorporated non-profit.
By 1993, the Marion Shelter Program experienced steady increases of people using the shelter, which prompted the Board of Trustees to hire its first non-resident employee. With this move, the shelter began to develop structured programs to help address the need for individuals to regain self-sufficiency.
During the summer of 1996, the Marion Shelter Program became a member agency of the United Way of Marion County. This partnership afforded the Marion Shelter Program to offer a transitional housing facility called the Journey House. This acquisition, gave residents somewhere to stay during winter days when the Homeless Shelter was closed. Today, the Journey House houses men who are stably employed and able to pay rent during their stay for up to two years.
In 2002, the Marion Shelter Program decided to implement a staggered stay-limit policy. Individuals and families who had not stayed previously at the shelter could stay for 3 months; those who had stayed previously, could stay for one month. The intent behind limiting returning residents to one month was to discourage the culture of homelessness that had plagued some former residents.
Recognizing the growing number of women and families entering homelessness, in 2007, the Marion Shelter Program constructed its second shelter, which houses women, families, and couples. With everything that we have in place, we can help reduce the number of individuals and families in North Central Ohio who find themselves homeless.
In 2012, the agency made a decision to change its name. The Marion Shelter Program, Inc. now does business as Heart of Ohio Homeless Shelter. The agency has always been a regional emergency homeless shelter provider and with its new name, better reflects our broad service area.