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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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Entries in affordable housing (22)

Thursday
Jul032014

A Well Respected Man: Bill Resseger

       He is nothing like the Kinks' song except for the title.  Bill Resseger is retiring this summer from his decades of service to the City of Cleveland Department of Community Development.  He has a wealth of knowledge that the City is unfortunately losing.   He knows everything about the funding of homeless services and the development of housing.  He knows how to assure that the City gets its fair share of State and Federal dollars to preserve and expand affordable housing.  Resseger has an even temperament and was a calming presence even when the neighborhoods were being robbed by predatory lenders and financial services industry.   Resseger served six mayors from the low key Ralph Perk to the explosive Michael White and finally the former tenant organizer, Frank Jackson.  
        He knows government regulations and how to get funds into Cleveland.  He is an expert on funding of homeless services, and has a long history for what would work and what will not work.  We recognized his years of service at the CAHA meeting yesterday.  Bill Resseger was part of the founding of Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance meetings to preserve affordable housing locally back in 1998.   This was a time when there was a huge threat to affordable housing with the loss of thousands of subsidized housing units.  In the late 1990s, Community Development was more about bailing water from a sinking ship than it had to do with developing anything.  Resseger was not the guy running around screaming that "Rome was burning."  He was not the guy who organized town hall meetings or criticizing stupid decisions by government.  Resseger was the guy who showed up every day and did his job. 
       He knew how to cut through red tape and understood bureaucratic written instructions to complete a grant application. He learned how to go from paper applications back in 1974 to the all electronic world of 2014.  He knew how to satisfy the federal beast which was always requesting more and more information.  He was good at cleaning up messes and implementing the goals of six different administrations in community development. He probably saved the City millions in fines and settlements that plague other cities efforts to spend federal development dollars. He knew his job.  He knew the social service system and the people he served: taxpayers.
      He was not the speech maker or the General who put together a strategy for moving a neighborhood forward.  He performed the essential job of keeping the wheels of government working.  Bill Resseger quietly told politicians that their grand magic bullet plan for saving the city was not workable, was corrupt, was stupid or all of the above in the most subtle and understated way possible.  He could translate vision into paperwork, and often did.  We saw this when he worked to transform a strip club/prostitute motel into a transitional housing shelter.  The barely clothed female dancers were told that they would be out of a job on the day that the Mayor was showing up to do the ribbon cutting on the new shelter, which made for an awkward afternoon for community development. 
        He did not always agree with us, but he was always honest.  If Bill took no position on an issue, we knew that the City would most likely not take a position.  I wish he would have been more adventurous, but Lakeside Ave. is littered with the carcasses of adventurous public employees.  We always got a fair hearing with Bill Resseger and the tax payers of Cleveland were well served by his long career.  He championed the City of Cleveland and always defended their interests at the table.  I never heard him complain about bad bosses or terrible elected office holders either in the executive or legislative branch.  He did every job he was asked to do.  He was a shining example of public service in a time when government service is often criticized or scorned. 
        We have a much improved shelter system in Cleveland.  We do not turn people away at the shelter door, which Bill can certainly take partial credit for along with Ruth Gillett.  We have some beautifully renovated subsidized buildings in the City and we did not have the wholesale loss of housing that we saw in Columbus, Cincinnati, Detroit and Chicago.  We have robust Permanent Supportive Housing and senior housing developments, which seems to be the only game in town for developing housing in America.  We have the innovative lease to purchase program operated by Cleveland Housing Network and a Public Housing program that did not wither away because of a lack of federal support.  We do not have the incredible number of people sleeping on the streets as we see in Washington, San Francisco or Detroit, and we have some neighborhoods on the rebound locally.  Thanks Bill for showing up and serving the citizens of Cleveland. 
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Brian Davis
Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.
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PS: If you have any questions about how much of a behind the scene guy Bill Resseger is, try to find a picture of him.  Go ahead...in this age of Facebook and photographs of everything on the internet...try an image search for Bill.  It does not exist.  He has been sitting at his desk filling out paperwork while the rest of us have been posting selfies and updating our profiles. 
Wednesday
Jun252014

An Open Letter to City and County Government

Dear Mayor Jackson and County Executive Fitzgerald:

We are writing to urge the City of Cleveland to develop an affordable housing plan similar to the one released by Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City. The Housing New York: A Five-Borough, Ten-Year Plan1 intends to lower income inequality by making new housing units available to more households with lower incomes (under about $25,000 a year). Specifically, the plan consists of investing $41 billion for 200,000 units of new and preserved housing.  At a Brooklyn meeting, De Blasio insisted that, “in a progress city, everyone should have the opportunity for affordable housing, and that’s what this plan sets out to achieve”. Indeed, advocates for affordable housing certainly see this plan as worthy of admiration and imitation.

Housing New York streamlines regulations and processes in hopes of opening up new development opportunities, containing costs, and speeding up affordable housing construction. De Blasio also means to double the capital budget, target vacant and underused land, and protect tenants in rent-regulated apartments. Certainly, these goals make Housing New York the largest and most ambitious affordability plan of its kind in our nation’s history, but if the plan is successful, the 200,000 units of housing will be enough to serve more than a half-million people in New York City. That said, we believe that Cleveland should try to put together a similar plan called Housing Cleveland in the next few months. As Mayor de Blasio demonstrated, the proposal for a housing plan of this scale need not be a lengthy procedure. After only 5 months in office, de Blasio announces a plan that tackles affordable housing issues quickly and aggressively, and there is no reason why Cleveland cannot do the same.

In Cleveland, there is a rising number of fair housing complaints combined with an inadequate supply of housing that meet basic requirements. We have talked about a funding source in the creation of a Local Housing Trust Fund, but it has not happened.  There are waiting lists of 19,000 for public housing, 6,000 for voucher programs, and 64,000 people applied for housing in 2011 when Section 8 was opened. 22,000 people are homeless and a growing number of homeless families are attempting to find shelter every night.  There were 30 families sleeping in the overflow shelter in Cleveland last week, because we did not have space.  Also and unfortunately, Cleveland did not receive any of the state tax incentives to build housing in the competition announced last month, which means a year of not developing any affordable housing.  We also see repeated cuts to housing and homeless programs with Sequestration and other budget austerity programs resulting in the closing of shelters, elimination of rental assistance, and reductions in staffing for housing and homeless programs. 

Observing these numerous issues at hand, we must suggest that it is urgent for the City of Cleveland to follow in New York City’s footsteps. We must step up our efforts to build and preserve affordable housing, and so we ask you, as the Mayor of this progressive community, to please consider pushing for a Cleveland Housing Plan.  I am sure that we have the talent within the administration or with our non-profit partners to develop a Cleveland Housing Plan by the beginning of 2015.  

Sincerely,

Brian Davis

We have posted our one page advocacy alert on our website that you can print out and distribute to supporters

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Wednesday
Jun042014

CAHA Housing Meeting from June 2014

At the recent Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance meeting held on Monday, June 2 at the US Bank Centre, attendees discussed various changes, updates, and projects concerning public housing.

Starting off the meeting was Priscilla Pointer Hicks of the Housing choice Voucher program. Hicks, retiring this summer, gave a summary of the CMHA Voucher program. She detailed the effects of HUD’s 2013 budget cuts, such as slowed voucher issuance, weaker customer service quality, and the loss of a third of her staff. In addition, Hicks mentioned that 900 vouchers are currently underutilized due to an increasing turn-over rate of homeless veterans. Moreover, only 95% of the budget is being spent, which is a stark contrast to the ideal 97% and last year’s 105%. The lower spending can be seen as a direct consequence of the staff and budget cuts. However, Hicks was also quick to recognize the many positive aspects of her program and the numerous improvements underway.

For one, the program’s customer service call center is being replaced by their caseworker system in which individuals are assigned a personal caseworker. Also, a new inter generation housing property containing 40 units will be a new addition to the community. These positive changes are harbingers of a brighter future for the public housing sector, and we have Hicks to thank for some of these changes. She served her community selflessly for 15 years but will now hand over the reign to Latweeta Smyers, a former New Orleans housing director of asset management. We wish both Hicks and Smyers luck in their future endeavors.

Scott Pollock of CMHA Public Housing spoke next and presented his periodic look at the Housing Authority. Pollock spoke on matters regarding the federal budget, current demographics of housing residents, and development activities. Of those development activities, one stood out in particular: RAD, the Rental Assistance Demonstration program. A voluntary program of HUD, RAD allows public housing and modern rehabilitation (Mod Rehab) properties to convert to long-term Section 8 rental assistance contracts. RAD, according to Pollock, is spearheading the future of public housing by generating funds the CMHA Public Housing program requires now that capital funding is in decline.

The capital fund is currently at $1.9 billion – a slight increase from last year but not quite sufficient nonetheless. In D.C., the House proposed budget of $4.4 billion was also unsatisfyingly lower compared to the President’s budget of $4.6 billion, highlighting further budget concerns for HUD with direct implications on Pollock’s program. On a brighter note, Pollock touched upon six new projects in the works, some of which include a cedar extension unit and a heritage view unit, both of which have been funded and approved. Pollock then briefed the rest of the group on the amendments of the 2014 Housing Agency plans and the future hearing to be held in July of this summer. He expressed hope for better quality housing and increased funding for the future.

Other notable updates in the meeting included a report on the proposed move of HUD Multifamily staff out of Ohio and a report on Troubled Properties. On a final note, all these changes and updates discussed at the meeting will surely have an impact on the community, and we hope that the members of the Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance will continue their work to foster positive change. Please contact  Brian Davis at (216) 432-0540 for questions and suggestions about the meeting.

by Lora Zuo

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Tuesday
Jun032014

Housing Cleveland Website is a Wonderful Resource

HousingCleveland.org is a website constructed by a whole host of non-profit and government organizations.  A FREE website for housing related needs. Helping people to have access to affordable housing in Cuyahoga County, Ohio.  Dedicated to working smart by providing resources that offer significant opportunities for families with the need to find safe, decent and sustainable housing.  It also offers understanding of tenants and landlord rights, providing information regarding evictions, conflict mediation services, social services assistance, housing vouchers, disability housing, fair housing oversight and family housing/energy savings.

HousingCleveland.org allows case workers for low-income individuals, such as homeless people, to easily search and navigate extensive listing within Cuyahoga County.  Encouraging landlords to list their properties on the site, and providing tools and resources for homeowners to have easy access to the process.

HousingCleveland.org is a guide to building strong families while sustaining housing opportunities. Dedicated to helping families and the community by providing quality service to address the needs of clients that range from simple to complex.

HousingCleveland.org has grown to become the premiere affordable housing listing in Ohio, with a database of 33,500 housing units, 1,183 apartment units are currently available.

HousingCleveland.org is a reliable, high quality, easy-to-use application.  Generates rent comparison base on comprehensive, detailed rental information, rating tools for locating housing in areas with specific features, such as schools, crime, lead safe guidelines and much more.  We can serve your housing agency needs by solutions that utilize leading edge technology that will meet both local and statewide housing needs.

by Gloria McCurdy

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Sunday
Jun012014

Housing 101 Has Space for you

The next Housing 101 will take place at NEOCH on June 13 at 10 a.m.  We still have space for you to attend. We will have a discussion of the Ohio Landlord Tenant Law and the local law by Randy Cunningham of CTO.  We will also have a look at Permanent Supportive Housing and the local fair housing law.  All of the presentations will give the participants a chance to find resources that they can utilize in the community.  We will have a look at the HousingCleveland website as well as the services available to homeless veterans. 

How do you get help with evictions?  How do you get access to a login for the Housing Cleveland website?  How does a veteran start their journey toward stable housing in our community?  How does a person who has been homeless for a long period of time access permanent supportive housing?  How does a prospective tenant get help with potential discrimination when they are searching for housing?  All these questions will be answered at the forum.  Hope that you can attend.

Here is the page describing the June 13 event and a flyer that you can print and distribute

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.