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This blog is dedicated to distribute current information about the Coalition for the Homeless in Cleveland or poverty or the state of homelessness. Entries are written by board or staff of the Coalition. The opinions contained in this blog reflect the views of the author of the post. This blog features information on shelters, affordable housing, profiles, statistics, trends, and upcoming events relating to homelessness. We welcome comments, and will remove offensive or inappropriate messages. All postings are signed by the author.

The Cleveland Street Chronicle
Jim Schlecht Event
Thursday
Jan122017

Cleveland is a Welcoming Community

If you are looking for an alternative to the Inauguration, here is an idea.  You can volunteer with us.  You can bring food or placemats or centerpieces.  You can contribute gift cards or other raffle items.  You can sign up to perform at this event.  You can just attend to break bread with our friends.  The contact information is at the bottom of the flyer.  NEOCH will be closed on Friday so our staff can go out and volunteer. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Thursday
Jan122017

Homeless Stand Down is this Weekend

Hundreds of volunteers ready to serve.

Dozens of agencies ready with tables, information, and medical care,

Haircuts, food, clothing ready to be distributed and

Most importantly 1,500 low income people ready to attend.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

 

Saturday
Dec312016

How to Misuse Statistics

"Homelessness has dropped--but do you believe the numbers?" was the headline in the Plain Dealer.  It was weird that they are asking the public to weigh in or did they not get enough experts to weigh in so they have no idea?  Are the readers qualified to make this assessment?  Are the headline writers asking if the following article is fake news?  Then they don't even answer the question in the article by only presenting one side of the story and only interviewing Bill Faith of COHHIO.  Is this some kind of new journalism where the newspaper just asks questions and expects us to come with our own answers?

I can answer the question right now, no, homelessness has not decreased but the number of shelter beds in Cleveland has dramatically decreased.  Just during the Obama administration, Cleveland lost 328 shelter beds locally.  It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to count people when they are not in shelter.  Twelve years ago, we were spending 80% of the dollars locally on shelters and now we spend 80% of our homeless dollars on Permanent Supportive Housing.  Why are we using homeless dollars to pay for people living in housing permanently?  Why aren't they taking money from mental health, addiction services or some other housing program to pay for the 620 people residing in these units in Cleveland?  HUD can say that there is a 20% decline but it has no validity if there are not beds for people to sleep in then how do we measure?

The other major issue is that these stats are based on a one day count.  This is useless because the number of homeless people on January 25 in a cold city is different compared to the number of homeless in a warm weather city.  The number of people in shelter in Cleveland in January is much different compared to September.  There is no way to make a generalization from one day and make that into a trend.  It is like saying that because January 25, 2016 was 20 degrees colder when compared to January 25, 2015 that means that 2016 was substantially colder than 2015.  One day out of 365 means nothing.  Imagine if the Census counted only on one day with a bunch of volunteers who are not trained while removing 20% of the housing in a particular city every year and then tried to count all those people sleeping rough. No one would put any faith in the Census or use the data.  

Just read the report from HUD on the Complete Count if you have any questions (but I am not giving a link because it is useless information).  The first 20 pages are all about how bad the data is and every city does it differently and that it should not be used for broad trends.  The media, including the Plain Dealer, do not read the reports and then uses the data improperly.  The National Coalition for the Homeless issued a nice press release about the issue. The experts are trying to say to the new administration, "Hey, you did not waste all those billions on Permanent Supportive Housing over the last 12 years.  Keep funding us, because look we have reduced homelessness by 20% or some other bogus figure."   It is bogus science that should be thrown away, and propaganda from lobbyists who want to show that homeless money is not just thrown down a well of waste. 

There is no doubt that the PSH units have kept many thousands alive in the United States.  The problem is that they are overselling the program.  Most other trends in the community are bad, and PSH is the one program that is attempting to reverse the trends.  All the losses in subsidized housing (Public housing, Section 8, and HUD funded private landlords) far overwhelm the small gains in PSH.  The shelters are full and every bed has a waiting list.  Homeless deaths are up; addictions are up; family homelessness is up.  Better access to healthcare is the other bright spot in our landscape.  Homelessness is up in Cleveland and Ohio, but shelter beds are down.  Don't believe the hype from HUD or the so-called experts.  These so called experts will rue the day, when the State and Federal government cuts funding for homelessness and saying, "You guys said homelessness is down and we have other priorities.  If homelessness is down we can afford to cut the budget by 20%."   Rough times ahead.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Saturday
Dec312016

Interesting Article But Fundamentally Flawed

Time Magazine had a story last year about a study out of San Francisco which I missed.  It was about the declining costs of providing social services to formerly homeless people as they age in Permanent Supportive Housing.  So, after the first two years of high costs, the social service support goes down significantly. 

I also checked out the City of San Francisco report that this story is based on and the finding seem consistent with what is happening in Cleveland.  Nearly all residents benefited from the service, obviously.  They were generally older and there are a few individuals in the housing who have very high costs with hospital stays.  They have more medical and behavioral health services after being placed in the housing.  San Francisco was looking at different models to see which is the most effective.  In Cleveland, we basically have only one style of Permanent Supportive Housing owned by EDEN and supportive services provided by Frontline Services. 

While they were living on their own in the first years of the study, the costs to the city and other federal and state sources was roughly $19.4 million, which breaks down to an average of about $21,000 per person. (Not all people being tracked have records of accessing services in a given year.) The biggest costs were for urgent care, jail time and behavioral health services.

This all makes sense because they are typically self medicating with drugs or alcohol.  They are not taking care of their mental health issues, and may have any number of other health issues.  The issue that I do not understand is why these on-going costs are being funded by the homeless programs.  If a guy has been in housing for two years, they are no longer homeless.  Why do the emergency services have to continue to pay for these costs in our community?  Why isn't the Mental Health Board or the Alcohol and Drug community or the Health care community paying for these support services?   We could put the homeless dollars back to work to keep people alive who are dying on the streets.  We could fund more beds for people waiting for a shelter.  We could provide rental assistance to get families back into housing quickly.  We could fund homeless legal assistance program to prevent evictions.  We could pay for more outreach staff to find people sleeping at the airport or in abandoned buildings.  We could pay for a panhandling outreach staff to help with jobs for those who are so desperate that they beg for money. 

No one asks the bottom line question: Why are the homeless programs suffering with closings and constantly being starved for funds, when the Permanent Supportive Housing programs are using the homeless dollars to support the social services for these guys for five, six, seven years?  It just does not make sense that we are using emergency dollars for the long term support of some of our citizens. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Wednesday
Dec282016

Last Chance to Donate Before the End of 2016 Tax Year

Dear Community Advocate:
 
Last Chance to Donate to Housing and Homelessness to receive the 2016 Tax Benefits!
I hope that in these tough times when you gather with family or friends this holiday season that you will invest your hard earned dollars with NEOCH to continue our valuable work on providing Hope to the Homeless.
  • It was a rough year for social justice, with hundreds of families showing up seeking shelter and not able to find beds in Cleveland.   Those families are staying in a gymnasium after the City Mission stepped forward to help, but because of changes in national policy priorities, Cleveland lost 444 shelter beds in the last dozen years. 
 
  • It is going to be a rough year ahead with little opportunity for advocacy at the national level with all the changes in Washington. It is going to be tough to maintain the local guaranteed access to shelter in Cleveland with the huge loss in housing and homeless services expected in 2017.
 
  • There are only a few public policy homeless organizations left in the United States and we need groups who will get information out to the community about the rapid changes taking place in the social safety net.  
 
Would your family consider becoming a member of NEOCH to help support the advocacy, HousingCleveland.org, the Street Card and outreach coordination?
 
Much of the work that NEOCH does directly benefits your community, such as:
  • Working to limit laws that specifically target homeless people.
  • Read the names of 103 people who passed away with keynote speaker Sherrod Brown.
  • Updating and circulating the Street Card (a regular one, a veteran’s edition and a family edition).
  • Marketing and expanding the affordable housing website, HousingCleveland.org to assist those individuals looking for housing a place to go to find the housing.
  • Meeting with Congressional staff in the district offices and in Washington twice a year to assure that the problems faced by Clevelanders are heard in Congress. 
  • We have convened meetings with homeless people and regularly meet with County Council members and Cleveland City Council members to raise awareness of the issue of homelessness.
  • We gave away a quarter million in winter items as part of our “SocksPlus” campaign in the last year. 
 
The Coalition began in the mid 1980s, the last time there was such a sharp increase in family homelessness.  We need your support while as we work through this current crisis in family homelessness.   
 
Please consider joining NEOCH as an individual member and providing financial support, so that we can continue to work to amplify the opinions and recommendations of homeless people, and so that we can continue to bring additional resources to Cleveland and Cuyahoga County.  It is easy to donate:
  • Return a donation to 3631 Perkins Ave. #3A-3 Cleveland, Ohio 44114.
  • Click the “Donate Now” button on our website and designate “membership” or click here.
  • Donate through your employer as part of the Community Shares campaign.
  • Set up a donor advised fund with NEOCH as the designee.
 
This next year is going to be critical, and we need your support.  We need a strong local advocacy organization working on homelessness to assure that the interests of homeless families are heard.  Our goal, like yours, is to continue to make a difference in our community and in the lives of those experiencing homelessness in Cuyahoga County.  As partners with schools, shelters, politicians, and food programs, we can continue to work toward the much needed improvements in our community.
 
 Sincerely,                                                                                           
 
Brian Davis