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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
Saturday
Feb042017

January Homeless Congress Meeting Notes

January 12, 2017 Homeless Congress Notes

This was the first meeting of the year and there were new potential members in attendance.  The purpose of the Homeless Congress was explained to new members.  The agenda was introduced for approval and then upcoming events were announced. 

Brian Davis let the members know about the upcoming Stand Down this weekend and where it will be held.  They were informed that there will be transportation to and from the event.  The members wanted to know if they needed to have ID to get in.  They were informed that only the Veterans will need ID to get the services reserved for the Veterans. 

Other events and meetings were announced.  One is the Immigrant/Refugee Welcome to Cleveland Dinner that will be held on January 20, 2017 at St. Colman Catholic Church.  Everyone was invited.  They were also informed that the Central Kitchen meeting will be on January 23, 2017. 

Ruth Gillett spoke next and gave an update on the Rapid Re-Housing Program.  The Rapid Re-Housing is a new program for singles.  Ann, from Eden, said the program will start in the next two weeks.  She informed them that the applicants being considered at this time for the singles program will need an income.  The staff from the shelters are being trained about the program, and how to select clients eligible for the project.

Ann went on to explain how the program works.  Once the applicant is referred, they will meet with a Housing Locator and go over any in information that is needed to secure housing.  Then, the Housing Locator and the Shelter Case Manager will work on things like utility assistance, evictions, tenant education and other information to assist to maintain housing.  One of the members said it should be made clear that the applicant needs to meet with their case manager, not just any staff.

Members were also informed that anyone in the other shelters will also be able to apply and they were encouraged to consider having a roommate.  But, it is still best for both participants have an income.  It was made clear that the person eligible must have some income.

 The next topic was time limits for the shelters.  Forty days was suggested.  Ruth wanted more feedback on time limits.  At the men’s shelter, residents have other programs to go to such as transitional shelters.  This is not the case for single women.    

The other problem brought up by the members was that many of the shelter staff are not respectful of the clients or residents.  One of the other members commented that if there are going to be time limits it would only be fair to have staff that will be able to assist in housing.  There was discussion about the quality or knowledge of staff to be able to refer people to stable housing, employment, getting disability, etc.  It would be unfair to set up a time limit if staff are not trained in their jobs to be able to make proper referrals for the clients at some shelters.   Will this policy result in more and more people sleeping on the streets of Cleveland?

 Davis distributed a part of President Obama’s farewell address to make the point that a small group of people can make changes.  He made suggestions on how Homeless Congress members can and have made changes in the homeless community.  The Congress went over the Priority List of items including the Tiny Homes, redoing shelter standards and protecting laws to keep landlords from discriminating against voucher holders, finding shelter space for mentality challenged residents, and addressing the Homeless Bill of Rights.  There were six options suggested and there was a request for additional items from the members.

Finding space for mental health residents was chosen as the top priority for Homeless Congress in 2017.   There was overwhelming consensus that this was the biggest problem facing homeless people in Cleveland.  They felt severely mentally ill people were being exploited by other residents or physically harmed to say nothing for the disturbances and problems caused by un-medicated individuals who do not do well in an environment of a high concentration of people. 

Staff invited many elected officials to the next meeting on February 9, 2017 at the Cosgrove Center at 1:30 p.m. in the St. Peter’s Room.  This is the best venue to speak directly to homeless people, and politicians are welcome to attend.

 By Ramona Turnbull

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Thursday
Feb022017

Outlook for Homeless People in 2018 in a Carson/Trump Administration

Draining the Swamp 2018-19 Issues Facing Homeless People

For homeless people, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is the most important agency and the decisions made in Washington have a huge impact on the lives of people without housing, those waiting for housing, and those who cannot afford the market rate for rent because they do not make enough money.  The head of HUD is often more important to homeless people then who is the President of the United States. Cleveland receives $30 million from the federal government specifically for working to end homelessness.  We gave our outlook for 2017 here.  It was our estimate that homeless families are going to have a tough time, but 2018 is going to rough for every homeless person. 

Outlook for HUD funded programs

  • We will most likely have to increase the family homeless situation to 50 additional beds by 2018 on top of the 75 from 2017.  We could see some small relief with an expansion of the Pay for Success program to more families, but that will not decrease the need for more shelter beds.  
  • Many of the resources for single adults will have dried up and more and more people will be asking for shelter.  It is unlikely that Cleveland will be able to continue to guarantee access to shelter for those who request it, because we have closed so many beds over the last 10 years.  We will have to figure out a strategy for what populations get a bed every night and which population is sent out to make it on their own.  We hope that Metanoia will find a space so that those who cannot get a bed will have an overflow space year round.  Metanoia will need to be prepared to serve 250 people per night including around 40 single women.
  • We will most likely see another 2 to 8% cut to our homeless funding.  This will mean another program will have to close in early 2019.  At this point, the Permanent Supportive Housing programs or the rental assistance programs will be the last programs left standing to be cut.  So, either we will have to evict people or eliminate supportive services to these extremely fragile people.
  • There will be more of a push to privatize Public Housing so another reduction in the number of units available.  Housing Choice Voucher will most likely be spared having already been cut to the bone.  A privatization makes it harder to apply and harder to enforce common rules for providing quality housing to the population.  HUD oversight staffing were already significantly reduced and that will continue.  Media will have more and more stories about horrible subsidized housing conditions and tax payers will demand cuts. “We should not have our tax dollars going to these horrible conditions,” even though it our own fault for cutting the HUD oversight staff.  
  • The tax credit program for the development of housing will probably continue to expand, because the new administration seems to favor programs that result in tax cuts. Again, this is not a program to serve those living below poverty in Cleveland.
  • In Cleveland, this will most likely mean a decline of 200 units in affordable housing because of a nationwide cut to HUD funded housing programs.  Cleveland officials have done a good job maintaining the inventory while other cities have seen huge loses.  We will not see the loses that will be seen in other cities, but local leadership will not be able to prevent all losses. 
  • No fair housing enforcement activities over because there will be an internal fight over who is in charge of these investigations. 
  • Those who have stayed in Permanent Supportive Housing or other subsidy programs for five or seven years will be told that they need to find other housing options.  Some of these individuals will show back up at the shelters asking for help. 

Other Issues for 2018-19 for Homeless People.

  • A further rise in hate crimes against homeless people on a national level.  Whenever there are more homeless people and government is passing laws harmful to homeless people or massive budget cuts, hate crimes against this vulnerable population rises. We will need a strong local Coalition to oppose these hate crimes, and it is unlikely that advocacy and public policy groups will be able to find funding when there will be so much human service needs overshadowing good government groups.
  • Medicaid expansion will begin to be decreased in 2018 with only the poorest of the poor able to access the public insurance. The state will also be requiring a small co-pay for Medicaid.  This will slowly deteriorate the number receiving coverage.  This will force clinics like Care Alliance to begin to take on more of the indigent care out of local funding.  This will decrease the health of the population and decrease access to mental health or drug addiction treatment.
  • Another rise in assistance for the opioid crisis with more funding for treatment and even an increase in detox when more suburban young people are dying from the addiction, but there will not be the ability to get Medicaid reimbursement for some of these supportive services as was the original plan for Permanent Supportive Housing. This will mean that fewer people will have access to these units.
  • Mental health funding may even see a boost in 2018 because of a State election and regular encounters between law enforcement and those with a mental illness living outside, but we will still have to deal with the reduction in Medicaid reimbursements.
  • Funding for private hunger programs will continue to increase, because Cleveland has always been generous in the face of hungry children.  We will probably see a sharp drop in those eligible for food stamps.  We will need to increase the number of hot meal programs at religious organizations and the pantry programs.  We will need to expand the school lunch program to also offer dinners or backpacks of food for the evening for those living in poverty.
  • There will be many more people showing up at the shelters with deep intractable debt issues making employment and housing stability extremely difficult.
  • Cash assistance will become a non-factor in the struggle to reduce poverty.  Very few are eligible anymore because of lifetime limits and the small grants.
  • Disability programs will be cut and turned into jobs programs to try to find employment for people who are currently on disability or who apply for assistance. Bureaucracies have a hard time pivoting to new ideas.  This will take a long time to catch on and many families will fall through the cracks.
  • Cleveland shelters will be under threat of defunding because they are unwilling to provide data to ICE workers.
  • More homeless families with health issues will be asking for help in our community.
  • Coordinated Intake will be in place to decide who gets a shelter bed and who gets sent to gymnasiums that are opened up every evening at closed down schools.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Thursday
Feb022017

Shelter from the Storm Benefit for Metanoia

Benefit for Metanoia, February 4, 2017

Shelter from the Storm

8:00 PM-12:00 AM
Shelter From the Storm: A Musical Tribute to the Songs of Bob Dylan to Benefit Metanoia Project

Details

Shelter From the Storm: A Concert to Benefit the Metanoia Project that provides food,clothing,shelter,showers and resources to the homeless men and women of Cleveland featuring the songs of Bob Dylan. Performers include Michael McDonaldSur Lawrence TrupoKevin TeleckyTracy MarieMike PellaHoward MicenmacherJohn D Miller, Ann Marie Micenmacher and Austin Stambaugh.

At:

Wilbert’s Food and Music

812 Huron Avenue

Cleveland, OH

216 902 4663

Metanoia is the overnight drop in center at St. Malachi on West 25th and Detroit in the Social Hall.  They are open November to April Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights as well as difficult winter nights in Cleveland.  Please support Metanoia.

Wednesday
Feb012017

New Section of the NEOCH Website

Improving Cleveland Shelters Added to Website

Shelters are often the only resource available to individuals and families facing homelessness for a variety of reasons. The work NEOCH has done through the Homeless Congress and current members of the homeless community is discussed on our website here. The process of creating laws regarding homelessness and administration regulations belonging to each shelter contract are explained. The data collected from a survey distributed to the members of the women’s shelter in July 2014 is displayed. The graphs show the different housing statuses individuals identified with (i.e. Emergency, Gateway, etc.), common concerns in shelters, quality of shelter staff and service, length of shelter stay, and employment opportunities.

The most common complaints from the women’s shelter are posted on this page. These include problems with staff behavior, facility space, lack of food, lack of general rules, and safety issues. Furthermore, the May 2016 Cuyahoga County Council regarding the Women’s Shelter is discussed with an available video link. Links for an entire list of complaints, problems with the food supply, and the responses from the owners (Frontline Services) are provided. Recommendations for possible changes are given and links to more resources are listed at the bottom of the page.

The Fair Housing rights of individuals receiving shelter are listed, as well as examples of prohibited forms of discrimination. The “protected classes” under the Federal Fair Housing Act are stated. Laws regarding sexual orientation, disability, and service animals are explained. Contact information for the local fair housing organization and the local fair housing enforcement agencies are provided. Links to the transcript from the May 2016 Cuyahoga County Health Human Services and Aging Committee are available, as well as a link to a video of the entire hearing.  Finally, a history of overflow at both the men’s and women’s shelters in Cleveland is provided. This spans the years of 1990 and 2004. The facilities involved in assisting overflow and the finances involved are also discussed. Topics of debate regarding potential regulations of shelters are listed.

by Kelly the Intern

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

 

Tuesday
Jan242017

What is Ahead for Homeless in the Carson/Trump Administration?

These are my thoughts on what we can expect in Cleveland over the next few years based on my 24 years of experience.  I have lobbied in Washington and Columbus for decades and some of these “new ideas or better ways of doing business” have come up before.  We have not had all branches of government under one party in both Ohio and with our federal government in decades. So if this is ever going to be implemented it has to happen now.  There has never been a better chance to cut funding in human services and put in practice some of the conservative ideas that have been discussed for decades.  I also read documents by the Washington Post and others detailing every campaign promise made by Donald Trump over the last year and a half.  Overall in 2017 in Cleveland we will most likely continue to struggle with increases in family homelessness, but we should see a reduction in the number of single adults facing homelessness.  Here are my observations.

  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development is the key government agency providing funds to local community for affordable housing, homeless shelters, and the major funding for services to homeless people.  The Trump Administration has appointed Dr. Ben Carson to lead the Department.  He has no government experience and spoke in opposition to the fair housing goals of the agency.  HUD enforces the Civil Rights era Fair Housing laws to break down barriers for minority, religious minority, gender and those with children facing discrimination.  Here are some possible changes in the upcoming year.
  • The last publicly funded homeless transitional program in Cleveland will be defunded when the Salvation Army PASS program is converted from beds to rental assistance.  Cleveland saw the defunding of 328 beds during the Obama Administration.  This will only make it harder for single men to get out of 2100 Lakeside into housing.  There will be new funding for single adults to get rental assistance which will ease some of the burden.  Homelessness among single adults will most likely decline in 2017.
  • We need 50 new shelter spaces for families immediately and 75 by the end of the year as we continue to struggle in 2017 to find a shelter bed. Cleveland is compassionate and usually steps up to serve families better.  I believe that religious and business leaders will step forward to fund additional shelter space. This could present a conflict with the County over intake rules and counting these homeless people.
  • We will most likely see another 2 to 8% cut to our homeless funding.  This will mean another program will have to close in early 2018.  This is especially likely since we keep reading how the HUD report shows we have decreased homelessness in Ohio based on flawed statistics, but the impact will not be until 2018.
  • It is likely that both Public Housing and the Housing Choice Voucher program will see a decline in their budget.  They are currently operating at a little under 90% of the funds they need.  This means fewer dollars for maintenance, a longer time to get units back on line and fewer staff to process paperwork.  Bottom line is that the 21,000 people waiting for Public Housing and the 8,000 on the voucher waiting list will wait longer than the three to five years to get a place. There will also be a debate about transferring public housing properties to become privately funded and administered by private sector developers.  This will not have an impact in 2017, but in the future.
  • The tax credit program for the development of housing will probably expand. These programs bring down rents, but they do not make them affordable for low income residents.
  • HUD subsidized housing is going to be difficult to cut.  These are all private landlords but everyone who moves in is subsidized like the voucher program.  They have tried everything to reduce costs over the last 20 years, but nothing much has worked.  I am going to guess that they will try to cut off lower performing housing which would mean there would not be a change until 2018.
  • There will be an attempt to defund fair housing while they “study” better ways to handle discrimination and disputes between owners and those seeking housing.  I can see a moratorium on these programs while they investigate the issue. 
  • It is likely that there will be a debate about time limits for those living in subsidized housing, but those would not have an impact for a couple of years.  The debate would open many divisions within the community and would be similar to the “welfare reform” debate.

Other Changes

  • We will see a rise in hate crimes against homeless people.  Whenever there are more homeless people and government is harmful to homeless people with cuts, hate crimes against this vulnerable population rises. We will probably get help from the local law enforcement, but no relief by the US Department of Justice who will unlikely have anything to do with civil rights, fair housing, hate crimes or discrimination claims.
  • Medicaid expansion is unlikely to change in 2017, but has been so helpful to improving the lives of homeless people. 
  • We actually will most likely have more funding for addiction services/treatment either through the State of Ohio or through the federal government or both because of the opiod crisis. 
  • Mental health funding looks stable and will face no changes. 
  • Funding for private hunger programs will mostly likely be stable or may even increase.  There will be some changes to food stamps debated in 2017, but not to be implemented until 2018.
  • Welfare (cash assistance) will be further reduced to only those engaged in a work program, but this has such a small reach anymore in the community it really has no impact on homeless people.
  • The new administration will try to limit Social Security Disability and the Worker’s compensation program for injured workers.  Both programs will face greater scrutiny and longer waits.  Many homeless people are eligible for disability, but give up because the process takes so long and the rules for being on the program are so restrictive.
  • Privacy in the shelters will begin to be an issue with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement asking for data on non-citizens using publicly funded shelters.  The local community will have to take a stand if this is going to be an issue.
  • Cleveland should be able to significantly reduce veteran’s homelessness in 2017. There will still be homeless veterans but they all should be on a path to stable housing.
  • The number of young people who graduate foster care into homelessness should be dramatically reduced in 2017.

by Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry