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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.

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Pay for Success Coming to Cleveland

At the September 11 Office of Homeless Services Advisory Meeting, we heard about a new program to bring investment bankers and additional resources into the struggle to end homelessness.   This is modelled after a program introduced in Boston in 2012 as part of the social impact financing.   Basically, they are asking wealthy investors to finance traditional government services.  Government saves money with a more strategic/flexible use of those funds, and then pays the investor back with the savings.  If there are no savings then the investors do not make any money.  They are doing this around homelessness in many communities.  These so called "pay for performance" projects insulate government from the risk of trying new projects and provide a large infusion of funds all at the same time to try larger scale projects. New York City is also trying the approach to assist in the reform of youth using the prison system.

PBS Newshour took a critical look at these programs back in February with even the title of the article was revealing, "How social impact bonds put private profit ahead of public good."

In the “social impact investing” model, private investors lend to a social service nonprofit with a successful track record. The nonprofit uses the loan to expand their programming, while the investors receive an interest-paying bond in return. Payout of the bond is based on the outcome of the nonprofit’s programming.  And here’s where the third player in this triangular investing model comes into play. A key part of the social service’s success is saving taxpayer dollars.

The New York City program had some of the largest investment banks paying to reduce youth recidivism back to jail.  The profit is made if the program saves tax payers funds with kids not returning to jail.  

In Cleveland, they are pursuing a program called "Pay for Success," which will assist homeless families who have had experience with the foster care system.  They are raising around $5 million dollars to assist around 135 families.  They will pay for keeping kids out of foster care.  There is a trial group who do not get the help to measure the time spent in foster care as a base.  Then the program serves the 135 families and the investors recoup the number of days below the base.  There is a dollar amount that the county pays for each day a child is in foster care, and any days below the standard goes to the investor to pay back the up-front funds.

The question raised in the PBS series was: Is this ethical to give public money back to investors for good government?

Don’t citizens have a reason to be suspicious when those most likely to profit from these new social investment schemes are the ones creating the financing imperative by working to reduce the tax revenues that would otherwise fund the programs in question? The same people, in fact, who in many cases are pushing to create tax breaks for these investment schemes themselves.

This is the first experiment in Ohio, but is smaller than the other programs.  Why not go for a bigger bang for the buck?  According to presenters, the thinking is that it must be successful since it is the first project in Ohio.  I asked why if we were raising $5 million, we could not do a bigger project rather than the 135 families they intend to serve.  There are huge domestic violence victims, all homeless families, sexually based offenders, or all youth who we do not have a good answer for in this community.  All these other populations have a hard time finding housing and are clogging up the shelter system.  The problem is that the emergency services offered to these other individuals are spread out among many government entities from the federal government, state government and then non profits such as MetroHealth, and not direct tax payer funds from the County.  The 135 families served with children in the foster care system are easy to show the decrease in direct County funds.   The government savings by housing a family in the shelter is harder to prove for the investors.   

We will be hearing more about this "Pay for Success" program.  Look for more details in 2015 for Cuyahoga County to present this plan for more public scrutiny.   We applaud the effort and hope that this leads to expanded programs that can augment the services to low income and homeless people in our community.  It will force the non-profit community to take responsibility for successful care of those they take on as clients. 

Brian Davis

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Successful Voting Event at 2100 Lakeside Shelter

Rev. Tony Minor, Advocacy Director at LMM, was the Master of Ceremony for our successful National Voter Registration Day event.  We registered or changed the address of 17 individuals, and a few requested an absentee ballot.  We heard from State Representative Mike Foley and County Councilman Dale Miller who both worked to motivate the crowd to vote.  Natoya Walker Minor represented Mayor Frank Jackson at the event.  All brought the message that it is critical for everyone to participate in Democracy. 

Walker Minor talked about the judicial races in Cleveland and the County that don't receive a lot of attention, but have a profound impact on the life of residents.  She talked about how important the judicial branch of government is to the community and we select our judges through a vote in November.  Mike Foley talked about how every vote matters with his first election as an example.  Mike won by a handful of votes that took two months to conduct a recount of the votes.  He is thankful for every vote because of his close election for State Representative. 

Dale Miller talked about the importance of voting and the changes in the law that are making it harder to participate.  He talked about and answered questions about some of the ballot issues that we vote on in November.  The State leaders have made it difficult for low income people to vote, and everyone talked about how important it was to cast a ballot because of all the blood spilled to earn the right to vote for women and minorities in the United States.  We urged people to complete a voter registration card if they had changed residences since they last voted.  

September 23 was National Voter Registration Day and we celebrated at 2100 Lakeside Shelter. We had the four community leaders on hand to talk to homeless people and eight volunteers registering people to vote.  There are only two weeks left to register people to vote.  We are urging early voting for homeless people who often have issues with maintaining identification.  We are going to help homeless people get over to vote during Golden Week and then through the election.  We are appreciative of Board for opening additional hours and additional weekend days so that it is easier for homeless people who often work full time to vote. 

Thanks to all the volunteers and the speakers for making this a successful event.  We hope that we continue to have a good turnout of homeless people who vote. 

Brian Davis

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County Executive Candidate Night on Poverty

The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless supports this effort and we urge you to attend this event before you vote.  The County Executive has not done much over the last four years except setting up the office, but it could be a critical position in our community.  The County Executive could work on broad county wide issues such as homelessness, the affordable housing crisis, and getting low income people to where there are jobs. 

Brian Davis

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Teen Charged with Murder of Homeless Person in Columbus

On September 22, a 19 year old, Carl Quiller was charged with shooting and killing one homeless person and suspected of shooting two others.  Thomas Henson, 63, was sleeping in the bed of his pickup truck in a shopping center parking lot, and was fatally shot in the head .  Investigators believe that the shooting of two homeless individuals on Thursday late in the evening of September 18 in a field were done by the same individual. 

Quiller had made the 9-1-1 call seeking help for Henson early Saturday morning.  After searching his house, they found the weapon underneath his mattress.  Quiller told police that he hid the gun, but someone else did the shooting.  The suspect is being held on $3 million bond. The other two homeless individuals were shot in the middle of the night, and are recovering in the hospital. 

In 2013, State Representative from Lakewood, Nicki Antonio introduced a hate crimes bill to protect lesbian, gay and transgender individuals after an attack that took place outside a bar in Cleveland in which the attackers were using gay-slurs.   We will ask Rep. Antonio to add homeless people to her bill after this attack in Columbus.  It is obvious that a predator was out looking for homeless people for two nights in a row looking to hurt and kill people who are living outside without the security of a front door. 

Brian Davis

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NEOCH Supports Equality in Housing and Employment in Ohio

Discrimination Against Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender People is Generally Legal in Ohio

It is legal in Ohio to be fired from your job, denied an apartment, or refused service at a movie theater, restaurant or hotel because of your sexual orientation or gender identity.  In many cities and counties in Ohio and for many government employees, these practices are prohibited, but there are no statewide nondiscrimination protections that protect all Ohioans.

21 of the 50 states currently protect people from discrimination based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, putting Ohio at a competitive disadvantage for recruiting and hiring the best and brightest professional talent.  Many employers across the country and here in Ohio have extended nondiscrimination policies to cover LGBT people, but millions of Ohioans remain unprotected.  According to Equality Ohio, protections are needed for everyone.

Equality Ohio is working with a bi-partisan group of legislators to pass the Equal Housing and Employment Act to end discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless voted at our September board meeting to urge our members to support the Equal Housing and Employment Act.  We co-administer the Housing website, and have heard horror stories from homeless people struggling to find housing with good credit and no criminal background who face discrimination from small mom and pop apartment unit owners who will not accept "non-traditional" tenants.  We have seen from the Housing Center State of Fair Housing Report that Familial Status has become the second highest number of complaints they received in 2013 and Gender issues are now the fourth highest number of complaints in Northeast Ohio.  Many of those complaints are discrimination of transgender individuals and/or lesbian and gay couples who face denial of housing because of their gender or who they establish a relationship with. 

In the last five sessions of the Ohio General Assembly, legislation was introduced to protect all Ohioans from losing their job, being denied housing, or being refused public accommodations based on their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.  On September 15, 2009, by a vote of 56 to 39, the Ohio House of Representatives passed the Equal Housing and Employment Act.  The historic vote marked the first time the Ohio General Assembly has voted on legislation to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The bill unfortunately was not given testimony or a vote in the Senate and died with the end of the 2008-2009 legislative session.

In 2013 a new bill was introduced in both houses (S.B. 125 and H.B. 163).

LGBT Ohioans face discrimination on many levels.  EHEA would prevent LGBT Ohioans from being judged on anything other than their job performance; it would allow all LGBT Ohioans the ability to obtain the housing of their choice; and, it would allow LGBT Ohioans to be served equally at restaurants, movie theaters and hotels everywhere in the state. NEOCH urges state legislators to hold hearings on this important measure and then pass it into law.  

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.