Student Homelessness in Toledo

upset boy against a wall

A recent Toledo Blade story highlights the epidemic of student housing insecurity in Toledo Public Schools, citing a report from the Ohio Department of Education that says more than 1 in 10 students in the district are classified as homeless.

Blade staff writers Nolan Rosenkrans and Valentin Ornelas, Jr. tell the beautifully sad story of one Toledo teen who’s moved 10 times in five school years – often staying in a motel with his mother or crashing with relatives – and is currently living on his own. He plays football and hopes to play for a MAC team after graduating. And nearly no one knows he’s homeless.

This number of homeless students in Toledo has steadily risen over the past few years – 37% since 2014 – but many haven’t noticed.

In a follow-up story, WTOL11 reporter Dane Sazenbacher notes that it’s is a problem hiding in plain sight, largely due to the stigma that comes with being homeless, but there’s no hiding the numbers.

Toledo has the smallest population of Ohio’s four largest cities, yet we have the highest number of students considered as homeless – a staggering 2,700 youths.

The Ohio Department of Education defines homeless students as those who lack a fixed, regular night-time residence. Homeless students may be living in motels, hotels, staying on different friends’ couches or living at a local shelter like Toledo’s Family House – the largest shelter of its kind in Northwest Ohio.

In most cases, their peers, teachers and school administrators are unaware of a these students’ circumstances, often by design. Family House Executive Director Renee Palacios sheds light on why with WTOL.

“You want friends, you want to be accepted, and a lot of the time homeless kids aren’t accepted. So they keep their situation a secret to protect themselves and their families from whispers and sideways glances. And mom and dad keep their situation a secret to protect their kids,” she says.

Thanks to the McKinney-Vento grant from the Ohio Department of Education, Family House is able to provide the students living there with shelter, food, school supplies and clothes. But this grant has been absent from the TPS operations budget for the last two years. Family House leadership hopes that help is on the way.

TPS leaders said they’ve already reapplied for the grant and have been approved. They’re just waiting to hear the exact dollar amount. TPS leaders also said that the funding will go into effect for the 2017-2018 school year.

Family House and other local shelters also rely heavily on community support to provide for the students they serve throughout the year. Family House receives a lot of crayons, paper, glue, folders, etc., but they’re most in need of non-traditional school supplies, such as:

• Tissues
• Antibacterial wipes and gel
• Plastic baggies in sandwich, quart and gallon sizes
• Paper towels
• Gently-used uniform pieces (navy, black or khaki pants & plain, solid color polo shirts)
• New underwear (boys & girls, all sizes)
• Flash drives
• Dry erase markers

Post-it® notes and copy paper have also appeared on some classroom supply lists. Click the links below to find school supply lists in Toledo and surrounding areas, and consider picking up a few extras to donate to the students at Family House. (Some TPS schools don’t have lists posted yet, but you can contact them directly for information.)

Toledo and surrounding areas
TPS Elementary Schools
TPS High Schools

Family House Open Inaugural Golf Outing

Join us for a day on the links at South Toledo Golf Club for Family House of Toledo’s inaugural golf outing, sponsored by Wixey Bakery.

Date: July 15, 2017

Time: Registration 8:00 – 8:30 am
Shotgun Start at 8:30 am

Place: South Toledo Golf Club
3915 Heatherdowns Blvd.
Toledo, Ohio 43614

Cost: $65.00 registration per person | $260 for a foursome

Format: 4-person team scramble
Don’t worry if you’re registering solo! We’ll team you up with other solo players to create a 4-person team.

Download the flyer, team entry form and sponsorship form. Mail completed your completed form with your payment* to:

Wixey Bakery
C/O Family House Open
2017 Glendale Ave.
Toledo, Ohio 43614

* Please make checks out to Family House.

We’re also planning an auction, raffle and other surprises, so stay tuned to Facebook for details! For more information, please contact event organizer Denise Wixey Coulter at 419-382-6684 or 419-481-3639.

Mud Hens Magic to Benefit Family House

mudhens potter

There will be magic in the air at Fifth Third Field, home of the Toledo Mud Hens, on July 14th in celebration of the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone, the first book in the wildly popular series by British author, J.K Rowling.

On this special night, the ballpark will be transformed into Diagon Alley and when the Mud Hens will take the field against the Columbus Clippers they’ll be wearing custom Harry Potter-themed jerseys.

The jerseys will be sold via private acutions during the game, and proceeds will benefit Family House and the Helping Hens fund.

Get your tickets to this special night directly from Family House while they last! Call 419.242.5505 for details today.

Introducing Family House Church

church lg

On March 30th, 2017, Family House held the first service of FH Church for the families staying with us.

“We pride ourselves on serving all the needs our families have,” said Family House executive director Renee Palacios. “We serve their physical needs with food and shelter. We serve their emotional needs with case management and counseling. Now, we can serve their spiritual needs, too.”

FH Church was planted at our shelter by CoMission Toledo, an organization that’s connecting with unreached populations to share messages of hope and foster personal and family growth through community events and other works. Our non-denominational services are led by area ministers and representatives from their congregations.

Family House is the largest homeless shelter in Northwest Ohio, and we have up to 60 kids with us on any given week. FH Church gives us the opportunity to sow hope and happiness into our families by sharing the good news of Jesus.

Services are held on-site at Family House on Thursday evenings at 6:30. Individuals or churches who wish to get involved or join us can contact CoMission Toledo for details.

And check out this great article on Family House Church in the Toledo Blade! Thank you for helping us share this story.

Mark Your Calendars!

November 11 - 19, 2017

Family House has been working with the Homeless Services Partnership team for more than two years as part of a collaboration with Aurora Project, Bethany House and the LaPosada Family Emergency Shelter.

Save the date for a fundraising breakfast on November 13, 2017 from 8-11am at the Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center Conference Center.

Stay tuned for more details.


Family House is Hiring!

Paper megaphone with text Now Hiring on the wooden cork background.

Case Manager

669 Indiana Ave.
Toledo 43604
Start Date: Immediately
Hours Per Week: 32+
Salary: TBD
Certifications Desired: Associate degree required

Contact: Lisa Flynn –
More Info:
Last Updated: 03/18/2017
Expiration Date: 04/30/2017

Job Description

Join an amazing team to assist families in our shelter, move from homelessness to independence!

Family House, the 2nd largest shelter for homeless families in Ohio, is hiring a Case Manager. This is a full time, 2nd shift (3:30pm-midnight) position to include health benefits. Days are Wednesday-Sunday. An Associates degree required, Bachelor degree preferred. Experience working with families required, families in crisis, a plus.
Must have a negative drug screening and acceptable criminal history.

Send your resume, cover letter, 3 references and hourly pay requirements to:

Lisa Flynn
Associate Director
Family House
669 Indiana Ave.
Toledo, OH 43606

Or email Lisa at No phone calls, please.  EOE.

Family House in the Toledo Blade

renee family house

Thank you to Amy E. Voigt and the Toledo Blade for the recent coverage on Family House!

Over the last 28 years, we’ve provided thousands of families with safe, stable transitional housing.

But Family House is more than just a shelter. It’s a place where people who’ve been faced with the hardest of times and the most tragic of circumstances can come to regroup and get back on track. It’s a place that keeps families together in a time when family is most important.

Looming budget cuts from local, state and federal agencies will have a huge impact on our organization and all the families we serve, so we’re grateful for the opportunity to share their stories and raise awareness of the critical need for organizations like ours, statewide and across the country.

The Kick Hunger Challenge is happening NOW!


Maybe you’ve heard – there is a two-month fundraiser for Family House sponsored by Mainstreet Ventures, Heidelberg Distributing, and Gallo Wine to address the needs of the hungry and homeless by raising awareness and money through special events and programs.

Ciao in Sylvania, and The Real Seafood and Zia’s Italian in Toledo will donate a meal to Family House for every bottle of specific wine sold in the months of October and November.

This is the third year for the Kick Hunger Challenge partnership. Last year 1,900 bottles were sold, and 1,900 meals provided. That equates to $4,000 raised! This year, our goal is for 2,400 meals to be donated. Please support this event for Family House. These wines are amazing and also make great gifts!

We are getting ready to go back to school! Check out the activity schedule listed below! SHOUT OUT TO Fifth Third bank (1 Seagate) and the Co.Mission Toledo for helping our families be ready!

Two Family House Partnerships Highlight Back to School Efforts to Benefit Families and Children in Need

(Toledo, OH) — Reneé Palacios, Executive Director, Family House Toledo, announced today that the shelter is partnering with Fifth-Third Bank and Co-Mission Toledo on two separate events to help ready families and children at Family House for the start of the upcoming school year.

Family House is a non-profit agency dedicated to keeping families together in time of crisis. Since 1985 they have offered emergency assistance to those in need of shelter, meals, or other services. Family House serves an estimated 650 individuals — 60 percent are children. Family House offers Basic Needs Program; Family Programming; Health Education Program; Children’s Education Needs; as well as Housing Placement & After-Care. Family House admits residents 24 hours a day, whether in an emergency situation – women experiencing domestic abuse; flood, fire, or tornado victims – or victims of unemployment or financial burden. Family House Toledo serves over 35,000 meals per year.

Ms. Palacios says that now through Friday August 12, the Fifth-Third employees are collecting unique school supplies for Family House children at the bank’s One Seagate location in Downtown Toledo.

“These are the non-traditional items that are included in supply lists such as: index cards, antibacterial wipes, ziplock bags, and more. They are also collecting underwear for the kids. It seems the school supply lists get a bit longer each year, and non-traditional items such as ziplock bags and paper towels are included,” Ms. Palacios said. “Family House accepts clothing donation from our community, however we cannot accept used undergarments. Our hope is to provide not only the uniforms that kids need to go back to school, but a few pair of new underwear as well.”

Ms. Palacios says on Monday, August 15, the collected supplies will be dropped off at Family House.

On Tuesday, August 16, from 4 – 8 p.m., Family House will partner with Co-Mission Toledo to host a “Back 2 School” Bash at the shelter at 669 Indiana Ave. in Toledo.

“We are celebrating the great new start to the upcoming school year. We will have a family-fun event with inflatables, yard games, music, corn hole, refreshment, as well as offering haircuts and collecting more school supplies,” said Ms. Palacios.

The event is free and open to the public.

“It’s rare that shelters take-in the entire family. Family House – Toledo is one of the few in the state that offers this service. We keep families together in the most desperate of times. The average age of a homeless child is four years old,” she said. “We thank both Fifth-Third Bank and Co-Mission Toledo for their efforts to partner with Family House to help with back-to-school efforts as well as support the emergency shelter service and life changing programming we offer to families and children.”

Donations are tax-deductible and Family House is an A-Plus rated charity by the BBB.

For more information on Family House, visit

More info @
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