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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.

Tuesday
Jun162015

Ohio Housing Trust Fund in Jeopardy

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,

Cathy Johnston
Advocacy Director
614-280-1984 X 25

Saturday
Jun132015

New Street Chronicle Available in Cleveland

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.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Wednesday
Jun102015

Ohio Housing Trust Fund in Jeopardy

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.

Cathy Johnston
Advocacy Director, COHHIO
614-280-1984 X25
cathyjohnston (at) cohhio (dot) org

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Friday
Jun052015

News Updates on Criminalization, Youth and Other Homeless Stories

by Dan the Intern

Homelessness, Government, and Politics

Homeless Youth

Miscellaneous

Opinions are those who sign the entry.

Thursday
Jun042015

First Call For Help Adds Statistics to Website

 

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.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.