The buddy gray Legacy
The Drop Inn Center was founded by one individual – a man named buddy gray. Much like the poet e.e. cummings, buddy chose to sign his name always in lowercase – even today, the Drop Inn Center keeps his “uncapitalized” tradition alive. Early in the ’70s, buddy gray began to invite homeless people into his own home to prevent them from dying on the streets of Cincinnati. From this personal mission was born the idea of establishing a more formal shelter, offering refuge to the homeless of his city. In 1973, buddy’s idea was made real as an evening-only shelter for the homeless located in a series of storefronts in Over-the-Rhine, first at 1713 Vine Street and later at 1324 Main Street.
From One Man to Many
Volunteers were eventually able to open the shelter seven days a week, incorporated soon after as the Shelterhouse Volunteer Group. As time passed and the shelter grew, the storefronts on Main became increasingly inadequate. So on January 13, 1978, the volunteer forces of the Drop Inn Center made the famous "People's Move" to the former Teamsters Hall at 217 W. 12th Street where the shelter remains today.
In the '80s, massive government cutbacks in housing and the country's reduced social spending brought increased numbers of people requiring services or unable to afford any other form of housing. The once over-sized Teamsters Hall became so crowded that large iron bunks had to be installed. As a result, a new wing was built to house 200 additional residents as well as the introduction of a drug treatment program for men.
Renovation and Recovery
Through the '90s, the Drop Inn Center continued to add space and programs to address the growing need for services for the homeless – the women’s shelter was completely renovated in 1994; the Recovery Hotel opened in 1996 as a transitional housing facility for men in recovery; the Drop Inn Center began providing supportive services, such as the Transitional Housing Project, which alone provides an additional 24 units of sober transitional housing to formerly homeless individuals.
In 2004, the Drop Inn Center formed its Homeless Individuals Partnership Program (better known as the HIP Team), stemming from HUD’s (Housing & Urban Development) Continuum of Care assistance program and its Homeless Individuals Task Force. The HIP Team provides intense supportive services to men and women who have been homeless for a long period.
The Legacy Continues
Today, the Drop Inn Center continues to thrive, fulfilling its mission to provide housing and programs to people experiencing homelessness throughout Greater Cincinnati. The largest area program of its kind, the Drop Inn Center provides shelter and meals to over 250 men and women each day, and over 3,000 each year.