The need has not been greater to help the homeless, especially during the pandemic and recent clearing of homeless camps, such as the one at Heer Park on the City’s far South Side. With rents rising, and the cost of living going up due to inflation, the mission of The Open Shelter is “To Stay Behind With Those Left Behind,” all while serving the homeless and marginally housed in Central Ohio, as affordable housing is a scarcity for those who are living in poverty.

On June 23, The Open Shelter had an open house at their new location on Parsons Avenue. There were remarks made by local dignitaries, as well as Shelter Staff and Board Members. The new facility, according to The Open Shelter’s website serves as a “hub for (the Shelter’s) Outreach Services, which are desperately needed” for the homeless and marginally housed in the community.

The first step of the intake process, as the Open Shelter’s Resource Development Coordinator Harry Yeprem Jr. explained while giving a tour of the new facility, is to serve a person with a warm meal that is prepared in the kitchen before being given an orientation and introduction to the Open Shelter’s services.

After a person has a free meal, they then go to the Deputy Director for assistance for the day, depending on the day of the week. The Open Shelter provides resources at their shelter, ranging from providing clothing, hygiene kits, and outdoor supplies, to bus passes. The Open Shelter also assistance with IDs and Birth Certificates. The Open Shelter’s Address has been used as a legal mailing address for those who are homeless.

As Yeprem said while on a tour of The Open Shelter, “Clothing Days are generally on Mondays and Tuesdays.” There is a clothing storefront in the front of the building where clients can pick up clothing. Tuesdays are also days for people living outdoors to come in as well, to gather camping supplies, food bags, and camper clothing. Tuesdays are also when doctors and nurses from the Mount Carmel Street Medicine Mobile Unit provide medical care for those in need on most weeks. In addition to the Mount Carmel Street Medicine team, Southeast provides mental health services at the Shelter on some Tuesdays, as well.

Yeprem has come full circle with The Open Shelter, sharing his journey from being a client of The Open Shelter, to a volunteer, and later an employee, in a packet that was sent out to Open House attendees.

The Open Shelter is a shelter unlike any other. Receiving no federal financial assistance, the Open Shelter is entirely funded by individuals and volunteers. The Open Shelter was founded by the late Kent and Mary Beittel, who saw a need for services for the homeless in the community. When The Open Shelter first opened in December 1983, it was the first 24-hour emergency walk-in shelter in Ohio. According to a statement from The Open Shelter’s Director Sheli Mathias, the Open Shelter re-branded with a new logo to show that (The Open Shelter) is “open for all people.”

The Open Shelter moved in January 2022 from St. John Episcopal Church on East Mound Street, near the Franklin County Courthouse Campus, to its new location at 1037 Parsons Avenue in Merion Village. The new location is twice the size of the Open Shelter’s former location inside the St. John Episcopal Church. In addition to the expanded storefront, the new Open Shelter includes a new shower room, a dedicated meeting room, spacious bathrooms and a loading dock to provide easier accessibility to their guests.

Mathias added in The Open Shelter’s Summer Newsletter that since moving to their new location, they have been able to “build relationships with other organizations” along the Parsons Avenue corridor that assist people – Stowe Baptist Church, Community Development for All People, and the Reeb Avenue Center.

The Open Shelter is open Monday through Friday from 10am to 2pm, closed on holidays. The Open Shelter staff are available for appointments from 9am to 2pm, Monday through Friday for payee ship, advocacy, birth certificates, ID’s, and case management interventions.

The Open Shelter is also in need of volunteers, as well as donations of food and clothing. For more information on The Open Shelter, and ways to donate – including financially, and to volunteer, go to