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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.

Homeless Voting
Friday
Jun102016

HandsOn Looking For Help During the RNC

HandsOn Northeast Ohio is coordinating a large scale, 1 day corporate volunteer project during the week of the RNC. We are looking for a neighborhood with several anchor projects, a compelling one-site project or different anchor projects for each day. 

Here is the detail on the project:

  • 500-1000 total volunteers
  • Physical work or large scale assembly
  • When: Week of the RNC - July 18-July 22 
  • Timing: 8-12/AM Project 
  • Rain or shine projects

Issue area is open. They could help fund/build a playground, camp clean up, do vacant land support, senior support, murals, general painting, installations, landscape, environmental projects and much more. 

If there is a space that is a gathering spot for community or a project space indoor/outdoor that could be create or renovated that encourages civic engagement, this would be greats. 

Benefits:

  • All supply cost will  be covered by the company
  • HandsOn will provide reusable supplies that we have
  • HandsOn will help manage the project (helping to assess needs, tooling, prep work, and day of event support)from start to finish
  • Be apart of a signature engagement event with high media value

So, dream big. Please circulate to your networks. We are looking to have project option ideas in the next week because of the timeing. 

Thank you in advance for the consideration. You can click here to sign up as a volunteer or call (216) 432-9390 for more information.

All the best,
Jeff Griffiths

Thursday
Jun092016

Homeless Voting Victory: State Will Appeal

We spent a ton of time at the end of last year and the beginning of 2016, working to protect people who took the time to vote to assure that their ballot was counted.  We found that thousands of Ohioans attempted to vote by mail or were forced to vote by Provisional ballot and because of a minor error in the envelope they returned their vote was thrown in the trash.  This included not counting ballots with readable cursive writing where it says "print name" or those older folks who accidentally mixed up a digit on the envelope.  Remember, for the most part on the absentee ballot envelope the critical information is printed by the Board of Elections on the envelope.  So, the boards were not confused over the person's identity.  They were just tripping people up for minor critical errors to exclude voters.  There was no legitimate reason for this hypercritical look at the envelopes.  Federal Court judge Algenon Marbley agreed with us and struck down this law.  With the restoration of Golden Week this is the second time in the last few weeks that a Husted supported change in the voting process was overturned by the courts. 

Here are a few media outlets which featured stories on this issue:

We held another training yesterday for social service providers and you can keep updated on all the information on homeless voting by clicking on the "Vote" button on our website. 

The Secretary of State almost immediately announced that he would appeal this decision.  As a participant in the trial, I have to say that the state's case was weak from the beginning.  They never explained:

  • Why there was a disparity in various counties in the enforcement of these rules?  Why were small counties more forgiving when compared to big counties? 
  • Why did the state need this law?  What problem were they trying to correct? I thought the core of the Republican agenda was getting rid of unnecessary regulations?
  • Why was there no opportunity to correct these issues instead of automatically disenfranchising the voter?
  • Why does this law disproportionately impact elderly and low income individuals?

 Our side explained the history of voter suppression activities in the state legislation.  There were concerns from the witnesses to overturn this law over racist billboards and highly offensive comments by Ohio political leaders about lower income minority voters.  We attempted to refute the state's case that this only impacted a smaller number of voters so it is not a big deal.  I raised the concern that the Secretary of State was championing the dozen of fraudulant voters (out of millions cast) in his Annual Report to voters while not mentioning the thousands of legitimate voters who lost their right to vote because they were not careful in reading, understanding and putting down their information.

We have to congratulate our attorney Subodh Chandra and the woman who did a ton of the work on the case locally, Sandhya Gupta.  Ms. Gupta gave up sleep for a month to answer all the State's questions and respond to all the depositions.  She did an amazing amount of work on this case and we are so glad that all her work paid off.  Ms. Gupta was so supportive and such a quiet yet powerful advocate for voter rights in Ohio.  Thanks to Caroline Gentry and Don McTigue for all their work making the case for counting every legitimate vote cast in the election. 

by Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Tuesday
Jun072016

COHHIO Urges Expansion of Trust Fund

Good Morning Advocates!

Momentum builds to expand the Ohio Housing Trust Fund.

The need for increased support for housing has been well documented as Ohio struggles to adjust to the low-wage economy, persistent poverty, and a steadily decreasing amount of federal housing assistance.

During it's 25-year history, the OHTF has provided about $770 million for programs that serve the homeless, develop affordable housing, and fund critical repairs and upgrades that help keep seniors in their own homes. However need has outpaced available resources - OHTF funding has remained flat for 13 years and often falls short of the original $50 million/year goal because revenues decline just when the housing market slumps and the need for assistance rises.

Now is the time to make our case with state lawmakers about the necessity of expanding the Trust Fund to meet the need for affordable housing in Ohio.

Given the proven success of the Trust Fund over the past quarter century, COHHIO is calling for a significant expansion of the program to address homelessness and housing instability. Policymakers now have an opportunity to expand access to a safe, decent home for their constituents, while at the same time bolstering Ohio's economy through housing development and rehabilitation.

We need your help in meeting with your state lawmakers over the summer about the need for more housing resources. You can invite them out to summer events, board meetings or even staff meetings to view the new Ohio Housing Trust video that was shown at the COHHIO conference. The video is now posted on YouTube and on our Facebook page. More information about the OHTF is available on our website.

If you are willing to reach out to your legislator but need help in setting up an event, contact me at cathyjohnston (at) cohhio (dot) org or 614-2801984 x.125.

Thanks for your support to help us #BuildTheTrust!

Cathy Johnston

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.  NEOCH strongly supports the Ohio Housing Trust Fund for the 25 years of existence.

Tuesday
Jun072016

Out of Reach and Out of Options

“Today, there is a shortage of 7.2 million affordable housing units for the nation’s more than 10 million extremely low-income families” - Julien Castro, Secretary of HUD, 2016

Every year, the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) publishes a data driven report on housing issues across the country. Out of Reach continues to find that as fewer individuals have the opportunity and means to become homeowners while at the same time the rental market becomes increasingly difficult for lower income renters.  There is a significant lack of rental housing with and rent continues to rise.  These factors are both as a result of huge demand for rental housing since the housing bubble burst as well as an inability for many to afford the rent.

The competitive rental market, where income inequality continues to rise and continues to widen the gap-leaving low income households in a particularly vulnerable place, as middle and moderate income renters increasingly occupy units that were once accessible to low-income people (NLIHC.org).

The existing supply of affordable units is not sufficient for the population, and fewer affordable units are being built in response to budget cuts to many state and national affordable housing programs, rising costs of land acquisition, and increased material costs.

Couple that with the lack of availability of affordable units that are often times terribly maintained housing stock, especially in legacy cities like Cleveland-and the timeliness and scope of the affordability crisis becomes clear.

How is this crisis being measured in terms of data?

Out of Reach identified a measure called the Housing Wage; or the approximate full-time wage an individual worker must earn in order to be able to afford a decent rental unit, by HUD standards, while spending no more than 30% of their earned income on housing costs (NLIHC.org).

 “In 2016, the national Housing Wage is $20.30 for a two-bedroom rental unit and $16.35 for a one-bedroom rental unit” –Out of Reach, 2016

What does this mean in Cuyahoga County?

As of 2016, Cuyahoga County has over 212,936 renters, which translates to 40% of the population compared to 33% in the rest of the state. The Housing Wage for a two-bedroom rental unit in Cuyahoga County is $14.87 and $11.81 for a one-bedroom rental unit, compared to $14.45 and $11.18 respectively, in the rest of Ohio. This means a Mom would have to find a job at over $14 per hour full time in order to afford an apartment for herself and her child or she would have to find two full time jobs at minimum wage to live in an apartment in Cuyahoga County.  She would be working 80 hours on her two jobs and would have 88 hours to sleep and be with her child the rest of the week.  This is not healthy for anyone.

The Fair Market Rent in Cuyahoga County for a two-bedroom unit is $773 and $614 for a one-bedroom unit. This means that in order to pay no more than 30% of your income towards housing and be able to afford to live in a fair market rent unit, or FMR, you must make $30,920 annually for a two-bedroom unit and $24,560 annually for a one-bedroom unit. This translates to working 73 hours a week at minimum wage for a two-bedroom unit at FMR or 58 hours a week at minimum wage for a FMR one-bedroom unit in Cuyahoga County.

At the mean renter wage, a renter must work 42 hours a week in Cuyahoga County in order to afford a FMR two-bedroom unit and 34 hours a week for a one-bedroom unit.  There are approximately 55,000 people in Cuyahoga County who need some form of subsidy in order to afford rent. 

*Note: the number of hours a person must make a minimum wage to afford a typical FMR one or two-bedroom unit is larger than the amount of hours that must be worked in terms of renter wage and thus is a more accurate measure for low-income and very low-income individuals.

Solutions?

Although the fight for a living wage is a good start, as the NLIHC suggests, this change alone will not be enough to mitigate the affordable housing crisis we are facing.

We must invest in affordable housing programs, and ensure that the policies and programs that are in place to protect low-income individuals-especially extremely low-income individuals and very low-income individuals are protected (like the national Housing Trust Fund), as we strive to eliminate the 7.2 million affordable unit gap that we currently face as a nation.  Locally, we hope to develop a local affordable housing trust fund to match the National Trust.  The recently funded National Housing Trust Fund needs to be fairly distributed in Ohio to serve the areas with the highest concentration of poverty (like Cleveland).

To read the full report and learn more about other counties in Ohio, you can follow this link.

by Katy Carpenter

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Tuesday
Jun072016

Ramona's Statement about the Shelter

by Ramona Turnbull

As an ex-resident of the women’s shelter and because I was there one year and ½, I feel obligated to speak today.  Since becoming employed at NEOCH I have been better able to understand the differences between the two shelters.  The men’s shelter has communities for the different needs a resident has, the women’s shelter does not.  They have services to help obtain GED’s, jobs, and housing.  The women’s shelter does not although they will tell you there are.  There is a reward system for residents that do well in the programs or help around the shelter. There are even stipends that can be earned.

At the women’s shelter you are denied any rewards, consideration, respect, or empathy if you’re having a real bad day.  The programs and some of the churches that were coming to the shelter no longer come.  One resident residing at the shelter stayed for a short time and decided to look for assistance and consideration outside of the shelter and she was killed.

The lack of communication between staff can be very damaging.  So is the treatment of the residents and this is a very big problem.  Even the renovations that were recently installed are very representative of how badly women are treated at the only shelter in Cleveland for single women.  Their isolation and treatment of the women are a cause for concern and it needs to stop. 

Services and other outside providers should be able to enter the shelter to assist the women to move forward.  At this point, they will not even allow the women to have a Resident’s Council at the shelter like they have at the men’s shelter. Brian Davis informed them there would be no cost and the NEOCH would get the funding and they still declined.

For some reason, the staff at the women’s shelter are isolating the women that have been forced to go there for help.  Isolation is a form of abuse and it needs to stop as soon as possible.

Posts are the opinion of those identified by the byline. 

Editor's Note:  This is the statement that Ramona made about the shelter at the hearing in May.  She did not get a chance to present the entire piece because she was so nervous.  We present the entire text of what she wanted to say here.  For a video of the entire session go here.