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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 (30)

Friday
Apr172015

Cleveland Tough Featured Vet Robinson on WCPN

This is reprinted from the WCPN.org website and a story by Brian Bull from a series called Cleveland Tough. Listen to the story here.  Here is the full series of stories.  Photos also by Brian Bull.

My name is Joyce Robinson, I’m a 56-year-old previously homeless, unemployed female veteran.  I was in a garage apartment when I became homeless.  I sold most of my furniture, jewelry, uhm... I went to Half Price Books and sold records and books, and everything.  But after a while, I thought, "You know what? I’m just gonna let this go."  I called the Veterans Service Commission, and they referred me to the West Side Catholic Center. That’s the shelter that I stayed at.

Early reflections of living in the shelter

The first night was difficult for me. And that first night through the next seven days, I cried. Every single night. I had truly hit rock bottom. The first week I was just walking around in a haze. 'Cause I think that when you become homeless, you lose something of yourself. It’s like, "Okay... I’ve lost my home, I’ve lost this, I’m a loser."

On the accommodations and care

I was there about three weeks and then I got my own room, which is good. There was a twin bed, a rocking chair, a chest of drawers, and a little side table.

They gave us a washcloth and a towel. Shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrush... everything you would need for your hygiene.

Upstairs, there were five bathrooms. And it was difficult, especially during school times because parents with children, occupying everything. Because not everybody’s idea of 'clean' is the same.  I had to be in at 6 o’clock every night. That was the most difficult thing for me. Not being able to just go when you want to and come back when you want to.  But after a while, it was a comfort to know that I had this regimen. It helped in the healing process.

Perceptions of the homeless

If you were to ask any ten people ...what they think of when they think of a homeless person, I don’t think that I would fit that description. I have a Master’s Degree. Been in the military. I’ve raised a daughter to adulthood successfully.  But when you think of homeless people, you think of people living under the bridges, pushing carts, they don’t want to work. You made a choice to be homeless. Which is ridiculous.

Making her way back to independence

In June of last year, I became involved in a program at Veterans Administration. We would transport patients to appointments, basically re-acclimate us to the work world. Having to be at work at a certain time, doing whatever and getting a paycheck. Helped me get back into residential living.  I just recently moved and am now in my own apartment.  My daughter is excited for me, she says, "Now when I come to visit, I’ll have some place to stay."  I said "sure, you can pull up a piece of floor."  But she’s excited for me because she knew it was very difficult.  Stepping into my new place was almost as scary as the first night I was in the shelter, because I had my routine down, and I have nothing but time.  And it’s like, "Oh, what do I do now?" (LAUGHS).  I remember... I was with a friend. I kept looking at my watch.

She says, "Joyce... you’re not at the shelter. You have all the time in the world."  And I says, "Oh, that’s right. I do."  It’s a great feeling.  My apartment doesn’t have everything in it just yet... but it’s mine.


WEB EXTRAS:

Robinson on the early phases of living in a shelter

Initially, my day was filled with... to be honest, just walking around in a haze. Just trying to figure out how I got here, now what do I do? Just getting used to the routine. After the weather broke, I’d walk across the Lorain-Carnegie bridge for exercise which is good. Or walk to the library, or walk around the West Side Market area.

After a while, I’d attend the employment clinics and those were great because presenters gave us tips on job searching, helping us with resumes, that kind of thing. Though them, I also participated in a three-week program for veterans. It helped me with job search, refined my resume, and really built up my confidence again.

Because when you become homeless, you lose something of yourself. "I’ve lost my home, I’ve lost this, I’m a loser." And I remember talking with one of my counselors at East Side Vets Center, and she asked me how I felt. And I said, "I felt worthless" and she said, "Are you sure ‘worthless’ is the word you’re looking for?"

And as we talked, she said, “I think the word you’re looking for is ‘unproductive’.” But I think at that time when I said “worthless”, at that point that’s what I felt. But after talking to her I think “unproductive” was a more accurate term. But you feel that way, it’s like... I don’t know.

On getting emotional support from VA specialists

What helped me get back to residential living was going through the program at VA, and Toni Johnson (Cleveland VA Medical Center’s Women’s Homeless Coordinator) was very instrumental because she connected me with a primary care physician there, and in talking to a psychiatrist, was prescribed anti-depressant medication. Because I really hadn’t realized how depressed I was. And just going to counselors and talking to them about the situation…it was difficult because it was like trying to tear a scab off a wound and digging in there, I realized I’d been carrying garbage from 35 years ago. And as we went through therapy, I saw how it affected my life up this point. It was a good six months before things were clear to me.

On making friends at the women’s shelter

I made some friends at the shelter. I was closer to the veterans. One moved to Alabama in August. Another one moved to Georgia... I think in October. And there was one who moved in June of last year, it’s interesting because she went to school with my daughter and she knew my daughter. Those were the closest three I think.

I stay in touch with them. And am keeping them abreast of my situation. “So…have you moved yet?” “Yes.” “Yay! Yay!” “Did you get furniture?” “Yay!” “A bed?” “Yay!” So it’s great keeping track of them. The one in Alabama was the one who got me out and walking, and walking really helped me to decompress and de-stress.

On her job with the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless

Having been homeless for 14 months, and now working with the homeless on this side of it, it’s really interesting. Part of what I do is contacting political officials, different organizations, and fielding calls from people who need resources and being able to suggest various resources, because I’ve used them myself, or am more familiar with them now because I’ve worked with the organization.

And I like the fact there’s so many aspects to this positon. Data entry, meetings, going to shelters, and talking with resident council members, going to meetings with the Homeless Congress, and seeing what’s going on. If people really understood that homeless are not happy to sit and accept handouts, but are really trying to do something to help their plight and other homeless people, it might just change the idea of what homelessness is and what homeless people are about.

We have lists of agencies, on street cards which are really great because they list medical facilities, churches and all they provide, that kind of thing. Even if you lose your home and temporary stay, there are places that you can go for assistance. The sooner you do the better.

One thing…there are more resources for families and males, single females is really difficult as far as finding shelter.

Now if you’re a veteran, there are more options. But for the average female, it’s difficult to find a place to go because lots of places are geared towards families. More and more families are becoming homeless. Needing shelter. Like they’re priority. We at NEOCH have tons of information on things that you can do. Or call 211.

That’s the thing. If you think you’re going to do it, don’t feel you have to do it by yourself. You don’t have to be alone, there are resources and people out there to help you, it takes a load off. It’s awesome the assistance available, but you have to ask.

And don’t be afraid to ask.

On what people can do to help the homeless

I just want to say that when people see people on the street, a lot of the homeless I’ve noticed from working here, they do not ask for assistance because they’re not very trusting. The ones who really need the assistance aren’t the ones asking for, 50 cents, whatever. These people don’t ask, they’re sought out, found by outreach workers.

If you see someone down on their luck or whatever, if you don’t want to give anything, say a prayer for them. You have no idea what happened in their life to bring them to that point. If you feel that you want to assist, take clothing and hygiene kits to the shelters. Volunteer at a shelter, or NEOCH, to see up close what it’s like to work with the homeless.

Don’t be so quick to judge because what you think may not really be. If you really want to help, don’t give your money, give your time. That’s the thing.

Sunday
Apr122015

Faith Says Very Little Good in Ohio Budget

Bill Faith attends a Medicaid Expansion Rally in Columbus. Photo from COHHIO.org Bill Faith, executive director, of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, spoke to the April Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance meeting.  He brings a wealth of information about the State of Ohio budget and its impact on housing and homelessness.  Bill focused on the budget that the Governor submitted, which are subject to House and Senate approval.  Many of the Governor's proposals are destined to be slashed because the Republican dominated Ohio Legislature does not want to ever ever ever raise taxes anywhere, never upon pain of death.  Here are some highlights of his speech:

  • The National Housing Trust will most likely now have funds in 2016, but it looks as though Ohio will only get about $10 million or less to preserve or expand affordable housing. The Ohio Housing Finance Agency will develop an implementation strategy similar to priorities set by the HOME program.  These funds are no where near the level of cuts at the federal level to Public and Housing Choice Voucher over the last few years.
  • The State will receive additional funds to help build additional housing for disabled individuals in conjunction with State Medicaid and Drug and Mental Health Boards (only 508 disabled individuals selected throughout the state).
  • Bill talked about the horrible job the state did in renewing people on Medicaid as part of the Obamacare expansion.  There was a very long application with confusing details on where to return the form and thousands did not respond. 
  • Maybe additional PRC funds through the welfare department for job placement and retention assistance.  This is the proposal by COHHIO to counter the huge proposal to put huge funds into a new case management system at the local welfare offices. 
  • Massive cut to the income tax which benefits the richest people in the state the most.  These $4.6 billion in the two year budget could do so much for improving infrastructure, local governments, increasing the housing trust fund, and public transportation. But sadly a missed opportunity.
  • No controversy so far about expanding Medicaid because there are so many now on the program and benefitting from the service.
  • There may be an expansion of the childcare assistance from those below 200% of poverty to those under 300% of poverty income.
  • May be an increase in funds for Developmentally Disabled. This came about because of a series of lawsuits that showed that the system is overly reliant on institutional care for the developmentally disabled.
  • The State may allow more of the Recordation funds go to the State Housing Trust Fund to go to a Housing reserve funds.
  • COHHIO wants the state to do more to preserve mental health and recovery housing in the state as well as figure out a way to bill Medicaid for more of the supportive services offered at Permanent Supportive Housing buildings in the state.
  • There is a toxic bill that would gut the fair housing regulations (SB 134) in the State of Ohio and make it more difficult to file a claim of discrimination.  COHHIO fighting this potential regulation.
  • The state agency that distributes tax credits is making some big changes this year to correct some of the problems from the previous year.  COHHIO will weigh in on these changes.
  • The Hardest hit funds for those in foreclosure is over and the funds to renovate shelters in the State was a one year allocation. 

Next meeting is May 4 with First Call for Help and the State of Fair Housing at 1:30 p.m. at HUD lower level in Cleveland.  The meeting is open to all.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Sunday
Mar222015

Next Housing 101 Filling Up Quickly

We had a really nice workshop on March 20 and we are planning another one for May 15 with the same speakers.  We have 12 spaces left for the event, and we need payment before we reserve a space.  Here is the website for the Housing Workshop

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Tuesday
Feb032015

COHHIO Gives Summary of Ohio Budget

February 2, 2015

MEMO TO HOUSING ADVOCATES
FROM: Bill Faith, Executive Director, COHHIO
RE: Biennium Budget Bill Housing Provisions

Today, the Kasich Administration released its budget proposal for the next two years. Over the coming days and weeks, there will be lots of details to uncover but we want to highlight a few issues related to housing and homelessness where we know the administration is taking some action.

1.) The Ohio Housing Trust Fund - The OHTF will continue to receive the $50 million in each of the next two years, but an additional helpful step is the formation of a reserve fund to help stabilize year-to-year funding fluctuations. Since 2003, the OHTF has been supported by a fee tied to recording of documents at the county level up to a maximum of $50 million per year. The budget proposal amends the OHTF statute to create a $15 million reserve amount to be used to fill the gap in years when the $50 million level is not reached.

2.) Homeless Youth Employment Assistance - Historically, funds available through WIA (Workforce Invest Act) -- now WIOA (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act) -- have not worked well in many communities assisting homeless people or other vulnerable populations, such as transition aged youth. WIOA funds are now being shifted to focus on disconnected youth (including homeless youth) ages 16 to 24. Additionally, the Administration has committed to focus more job opportunities and supports to homeless youth, with a portion of the governor’s discretionary WIOA funds helping homeless youth gain employment as they stabilize their housing.

3.) Continued Health Care Coverage – Everyone remembers the battle two years ago to extend health care coverage for more low-wage workers and vulnerable people left out of the Medicaid program. The Governor’s budget provides for the ongoing funding and coverage necessary to support this critically important health care coverage.

4.) Supportive Housing and Medicaid -- The Administration has signaled that it supports, through changes in the state Medicaid plan, an expanded package of supportive services which will allow housing and service organizations to help people who experience chronic homelessness remain in stable housing.

5.) Other Housing Resources in Budget Plan

a.) The budget plan includes $5m to expand the recovery housing capacity over the next two years. This continues and expands on the $10 million provided last year in the mid-biennial review.

b.) Initiates a pilot program for a subsidy to housing providers that support low-income people with disabilities at $1 million a year through a partnership with the Department of Medicaid the Ohio Housing Finance Agency.

c.) Sustain funding for Residential State Supplement program at $15M annually while MHAS works to improve the quality of the RSS housing.

6.) In addition to the budget points mentioned above, the administration will leverage the following additional resources it has received or is expected to receive in the near future:

a.) Ohio will begin preparing for the receipt of National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) dollars, expected to be approximately $10 million a year. The Kasich Administration announced February 2nd that the Ohio Development Services Agency will administer the NHTF and OHFA will develop the allocation plan and allocate program funds. The NHTF will provide revenue to build, preserve, and rehabilitate housing for people who are extremely low income.

b.) A $3.6M Cooperative Agreement to Benefit Homeless Individuals (CABHI) grant was awarded to OMHAS to provide programming and services for individuals who are chronically homeless. The funds will be used to leverage PATH to reach 820 people over the next three years in 5 Ohio cities.

c.) Finally, Ohio is expected to receive news in early 2015 of being awarded almost $12 million in HUD Section 811 grant that will allow OHFA and Medicaid to develop and subsidize over 500 units of rental housing with supportive services for low-income adults with a disability. This resource will work with existing units to create long-term housing success.

To learn more about how these and other budget measures will impact housing across the state, consider attending the COHHIO conference April 13-15.

All the best, and thanks for your support.

Bill Faith, Executive Director
COHHIO

Monday
Jan262015

HUD Announces Funding for Cuyahoga County

The Department of Housing and Urban Development ahead of the Secretary of HUD appearing on the Daily Show, awarded to Cuyahoga County $25,342,376.00 in funding for homelessness and housing. 

a) Every shelter and service provider seeking renewals funding received the money they requested.  They get what they got to fund the shelter or service when they opened--no cost of living increase ever in the HUD world.

b) Renewals involving leasing/rent assistance received increases from the amount requested because of the recalculation of the rent amounts to align with Fair Market Rents in Greater Cleveland. This is true for all except one Shelter Plus Care program.  The County is going to ask for a correction on the one program.

c) All other renewals were approved for the amount requested.

d) The County wrapped a bunch of programs into two "reallocation requests" for funding from funds that were left once HUD funds all the renewals.  These projects may not have scored high enough locally, but changed their program to meet current expectations. The County rolled a bunch of programs together to submit two big requests for funding. This strategy was risky, but worked in putting them all together into two projects.  "All in" approach to funding requests.

 

The bad news was that the one new project submission for housing vouchers attached to the new Permanent Supportive Housing building on Detroit Ave was not approved.  We will see what impact this has on the funding for supportive housing locally.

$3.88 million of the funding goes to transitional shelters and supportive services or 15% of the funding.  The other 85% of the funds go to housing long term homeless or disabled homeless people in Cuyahoga County.

  • Cincinnati received $15.38 million.
  • Toledo received $4.88 million in support
  • Columbus only received $11.06 million which seems low to me.
  • Dayton received $8.37 million.
  • Akron received 4.47 million.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.