Good Afternoon Advocates,
Today, the latest changes were made to the state budget through the Omnibus amendment in the Senate. Despite your tremendous advocacy efforts last week, the Ohio Housing Trust Fund remains in jeopardy. The budget still contains the proposal to cut Trust Fund revenues in half and redistribute the other half to newly created county entities that lack housing experience and coordination.
If the amendment makes it through the legislative process, it will go into effect July 1st. The state will have only half of the money it currently administers, so unless this change is rejected, all organizations currently funded with Ohio Housing Trust Fund dollars will see dramatic reductions without any clear access to local funds.
[Local updates: If the Senate version passes, approximately $25 million will be divided among the 88 counties, so Cuyahoga County will never get back the funding we received in the past. Small counties will get a small amount of the funds that they will not have enough to do a housing project. That money will sit or will be wasted. Since most of the counties around Cuyahoga send their homeless to the Cleveland shelters to get help, we deserve a larger portion of the Trust Fund.] If you know any local media people, please send it on. You’re welcome to add a quote of your own.
Attached also is a fact sheet with a list of the reasons why this amendment is a terrible idea.
We need your help today in calling your house and senate members. Ask them to support the House version of the Housing Trust Fund language – not the Senate version -- when the bill goes to the conference committee later this week.
Here are the contact lists for the Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio Senate.
Please let us know how your legislators respond.
Thanks for your support,
614-280-1984 X 25
Good Afternoon Advocates,
The new Street Chronicle #22.2 is available in Cleveland right now. It has a survey of the most Surprising thing found by homeless people when they first became homeless. We have a number of photographs, and a few pieces of poetry. There is an article about the importance of outreach along with a few local news reports. A volunteer did a story about interacting with residents at both the men's shelter as well as the women's shelter and the differences. I did a commentary about the results of the 2012 Police Chase that resulted in the death of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams.
All the vendors submitted stories including one on social media and the obstacles that Steve Harvey overcame. NEOCH's Annual Meeting was featured in the middle section of the paper along with a story of the Criminalization conference in Denver. One vendor had a run in with the clean up crews in Ohio City and the bank door that was left open. There were two stories on homeless veterans composed by two vendors.
Thanks to PM Graphics in Streetsboro for the printing of the paper.
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One Housing Trust Fund vs. 88 New Bureaucracies:
Making the case against the Senate Amendment
The Senate Trust Fund amendment reads: “Requires that half of the fees collected by county recorders for the Housing Trust Fund to be retained by the county for the purpose of housing. Requires that the county auditor, recorder, and a county commissioner, or their delegates, determine by a majority vote how the funds will be used.”
Here are the primary reasons the state Trust Fund process is preferable to the county process the Senate amendment would create:
1) The Housing Trust Fund is administered by a single state agency with oversight by a 14-member advisory board and a 25-year solid track record of accountability. The amendment would establish 88 separate county administrative processes with elected officials, such as recorders and auditors, who may have little or no housing experience.
2) The Housing Trust Fund has statutory protections to ensure that funds are used for those with the greatest housing needs, such as: 10% of funds must be used to support homeless programs, including homeless youth; and there’s an overall preference for projects serving those at 35% of median income or below. The county process has no such protections.
3) Ohio Development Services Agency coordinates efforts with the Ohio Housing Finance Agency to leverage the Housing Trust Fund with low-income tax credits and bond financing so that Trust Fund is leveraging dollars at a rate of 9/1. These types of leveraging opportunities would be rare at the county level.
4) The Housing Trust Fund has a statutory limit of 5% or less to be used for administration. The county program would create 88 separate county bureaucracies, each of which would require unspecified amounts of administrative funds to operate. In an era of scarce housing resources, this is an inappropriate use of public funds.
5) The Housing Trust Fund provides numerous opportunities to expand housing options for people in recovery, people with disabilities, and people in need of alternatives to institutional settings. These are done in partnership with other private and state agencies such as Medicaid, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and the Department of Aging. With the county program those partnerships are greatly diminished.
6.) The Housing Trust Fund is currently of sufficient size that it is capable of leveraging resources from private and public sector sources, and funding several larger impactful housing developments projects each year. The proposed county-based approach would disperse funding, making it much more difficult to leverage funds for the larger, more impactful projects.
7) Housing Trust Fund dollars are awarded on a competitive basis to make sure projects using best practice with solid outcomes are funded first. While projects in all 88 counties can compete for the funds, to ensure funds have broad geographic distribution, there is a statutory requirement that at least 50% of the available resources be awarded to projects in rural parts of the state. This approach assures both fairness and quality in distributing the funds and makes the county process unnecessary.
The State Housing and Homeless Coalition is asking that you call your State Senator today to protest this horrible plan. If you get a response let COHHIO know below. To get the call in information to your senator go to the COHHIO website here.
Advocacy Director, COHHIO
cathyjohnston (at) cohhio (dot) org
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by Dan the Intern
Homelessness, Government, and Politics
- If politicians want to solve homelessness, they should implement the policies that homeless people find effective. Government officials continuously implement astonishingly ineffective, and often appalling initiatives, under the guise of combatting the problem.
- Governments argue that programs to help low-income people, such as affordable housing and SNAP (food stamps), are too costly and are ineffective. Studies show that governments pay out more for low-income individuals to be homeless than it would to provide the government help. They found Santa Clara County spent $3 billion over six years and spent around $83,000 on each homeless person far more than the emergency and housing assistance available to an individual.
- A homeless person often lacks many of the niceties our daily lives, but public libraries provide those without housing access to technology and a place of “peace and quiet.” With the number of homeless taking advantage of the services provided by public libraries, the San Francisco Public Library became the first library in the country to add a full-time social worker.
- Seattle, Cleveland and other cities, hope to end veteran homelessness by 2016. However, with their failure to end long term homelessness by 2014, one questions whether or not they will be able to accomplish their goal.
- In California, climbing out of homelessness requires some sort of identification, but identification is often unobtainable. Governments must factor in the unfair effects of their policies on people in dire situations.
- San Francisco develops a policy to give ex-offenders a second chance by providing temporary cost-free housing. For homeless people, ID can mean being able to work, vote, receive benefits or move into housing.
- Mayor of Honolulu has released innovative plan to turn shipping containers into livable emergency housing for the homeless. This area also will come with a hygiene trailer.
- The safety net for individuals in dire situations is not as strong as many believe. A woman with a job, no mental health issues, and no addictions finds herself on the streets. This is a story from a Street Newspaper.
- In Berkeley, California, a rise in homeless youth has been mostly invisible to those in the city. Many have very limited access to services, and, as a result, these kids and teens are struggling or failing in school.
- Many of the homeless youth are victims of emotional and physical abuse, but avoid social service agencies in fear of going back to houses. Others are homeless by getting kicked out of foster care at 18 and have nowhere to go, while some are homeless for their sexual orientation.
- Denver, Colorado has 45,000 kids that are homeless. In May, one homeless teen, with the help of Urban Peak, was able to graduate and receive his high school diploma despite being homeless.
- With the stigma of being homeless, many youth do not wish to reveal their situations. They continue their daily lives like nothing is wrong, which means they cannot get the services they need.
- Young mother, who at one point was homeless, graduates valedictorian of her Chicago high school with acceptance letters from over 20 colleges. She did not do it on her own, but had help from family, staff members, and her social worker. This goes to show that homeless people can succeed, but, like any other person, often help is needed.
- When encountering a homeless person, whether on the streets or as part of a job, it is important to remember they are PEOPLE, and that they should be treated as so. Yelling at, or insulting a homeless person only seeks to destroy their self-worth and feed a cycle of homelessness.
- A Missouri woman, after watching a homeless man struggle in the rain, acts compassionately toward the man, and subsequently her life changes completely. After her experience, this woman quit her job and opened up a free clothing store for low-income people.
- An often not considered issue for homeless people is a lack of formal identification and legal documents, such as a Social Security Card, birth certificate, etc. One Orlando nonprofit, called IDignity, is trying to change this by helping people obtain these documents.
- As part of a global solutions class, 3 high school students created a bike drive to distribute as transportation for homeless people that are searching for jobs. These students highlight a pressing issue for homeless people. They lack many of the amenities that help one advance their life, like phones, transportation, etc., that the average person takes for granted.
- Taxpayers are harmed by unnecessary jailing of homeless people. Homeless spend weeks in jail for petty offenses, and the taxpayers are the ones footing the bill. There is no need for jailing these petty offenders.
- Inequality does in fact dictate one’s possibilities in life. Equality of opportunity is not what it once was. If your family is poor, your family is more likely to have high school dropouts.
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From the First Call For Help Dashboard website June 2015 http://www.211oh.org/trending/
This is really helpful to see trends in the community. 2-1-1/First Call for Help has introduced a "dashboard" to show up to date statistics about people calling for help. This is typically inside baseball behind the scenes stuff, but it is very helpful to show where there are holes in our social safety net. We have collected updated stats here and we have a blog that we put interesting graphs that we find regarding poverty and homelessness. Housing is always high on any of the lists from First Call For Help.
New 2-1-1 Community Dashboard
Thanks to a generous grant from the CareSource Foundation, and in partnership with RTM Designs, United Way 2-1-1 created a dashboard for the community to monitor real-time 2‑1‑1 trends. By visiting 211oh.org/trending you can view counts of needs and trends for various age demographics and topics, including housing, food and behavioral health. The grant provides all 2‑1‑1 centers in Ohio who utilize ReferNet, the opportunity to create local dashboards based on the Cleveland model at no cost to them. This is a work in progress, and we're looking forward to the next version, which will include unmet needs and outcome data.
Really nice upgrade.
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