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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 HUD (23)

Thursday
Mar162017

Comments to HUD Using Orwellian Language

This comment from Brook F. was left on our Blog about the Department of Housing and Urban Development trying to redefine the word "homeless."  It is such a good comment it deserves its own entry.  Here is a link to the blog entry and below is Brook F's comment.

Being homeless IS NOT HAVING YOUR OWN HOME, either renting or owning, THAT YOU CALL YOUR OWN. Homelessness is: living with family or friends because you DON'T have your OWN HOME due to loss of income, due to health or disability, or due to extenuating circumstances out of your control.

Being homeless and living in another's home, a shelter, or on the streets creates severe limitations socially, emotionally, physically and financially. It also is at a cost for those who are providing you shelter, in particular those who open their homes to you. They become burdened as well, despite their helpful intentions: an increase in utility usage, food, loss of privacy (for both families in the home), and a strain on the familial or friend relationship.

This is JUST A SMALL PORTION of what it means to be homeless. I know. I am a homeless person. I just got back on my own recently. It was not easy. It was with the help of others' services. I am also a full time social work student at Case MSASS, working towards my MSSA. HOMELESSNESS is more than just being "on the streets" or in "an uninhabitable" place to sleep. It is a mindset you fall into, it is a way of surviving, it is being stared at, ridiculed, pitied, ignored, dehumanized, and devalued. MY LIFE MATTERS. And so do the MILLIONS of other homeless lives in this country. We want sustainable, livable wage work, affordable and safe housing and neighborhoods, and to be seen for the human beings we are, with intelligence, wisdom, insight, and understanding of the world and others around us. WE ARE YOU. We always have been you-- Just harder hit.

Brook F left on the NEOCH website on March 13, 2017

Unfortunately, many who work in the shelters or social service providers are not listening and continue to insist on using the offensive phrase "literally homeless."  I will correct anyone who uses it with me, but the federal department keeps using it and making this offensive language common. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Sunday
Mar122017

HUD is Playing Orwellian Mind Games

*The Department of Housing and Urban Development definition of “literally homeless”: “Individual or family who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, meaning: (i) Has a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not meant for human habitation; (ii) Is living in a publicly or privately operated shelter designated to provide temporary living arrangements (including congregate shelters, transitional housing, and hotels and motels paid for by charitable organizations or by federal, state and local government programs); or (iii) Is exiting an institution where (s)he has resided for 90 days or less and who resided in an emergency shelter or place not meant for human habitation immediately before entering that institution."

This is from Cuyahoga County Office of Homeless Services talking about HUD's new strategy for redefining homelessness with words instead of actual housing.  This is similar to their functional zero campaign or "complete counts" that are neither and pushing plans to end homelessness that were actually ending homelessness for only a small group.   HUD is becoming a master at using the George Orwell tools for changing reality. 

"Don't Call Me Literally Homeless. I believe I am figuratively homeless!"The latest is the use of "literally homeless" to describe the opposite of the word literally.  Everyone in the world understands the abstract concept of a home, and they also understand the opposite of that concept.  Those who do not work in the shelters or homeless services understand a homeless person is one who does not have a place to live.  The world understands those who pay themselves for a motel room, sleep on a couch, or a basement are in fact literally homeless.  HUD is trying to say that the arbitrary definition made up by a bureaucrat is now "literally homeless."  It is like some kind of sick joke that the Ministry of Love would propose in the world of Big Brother.  Imagine the heartbreak of a family who had the teacher tell them that the school teachers believe that the family is homeless because they are sleeping on a couch or a motel, and then they go to get help from the County and the smug caseworker says, "Sorry, your family is not literally homeless. Come back when you lose everything and are living on the streets because you don't qualify for help." It is horrible to treat taxpayers like this.

Brian Davis

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.

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 shelter beds. 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

Monday
Dec192016

Fake News: The Homeless Numbers Are Made Up 

New report once again misleads lawmakers and the public about the supposed ‘decline’ in numbers of people experiencing homelessness in the United States.

Washington, December 19, 2016 –
As we rapidly approach the end of another year, cities around the country are preparing vigils recognizing those who have lived and died without adequate housing in 2016. November’s release of the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress by the Department of Housing and Urban Development may give those attending some small cause for hope, describing a 3% decrease in the number of men, women, and children experiencing homelessness, counted on a single winter night, over last year’s number.

Unfortunately the report leaves out some important information. For instance, the count in question tallies those staying in emergency and transitional shelters, as well as those who can be located outside. HUD’s recent decreases in funding for such shelters means fewer members of the homeless population are easily accounted for. HUD provides bonuses to communities that decrease their count, creating a disincentive for those conducting counts to locate every unsheltered person in their neighborhoods.

Furthermore, HUD only asks communities to report those who it considers “literally homeless.” This doesn’t include the large numbers of individuals and families who are doubled up or “couch surfing” with friends and relatives. This unrealistic definition of homelessness explains why HUD reported just over 120,000 children experiencing homelessness on a given night, while the Department of Education has reported well over ten times as many children youths registered as homeless in recent years, a number that has more than doubled over the last decade.

The reports of HUD and other governmental and non-governmental organizations purporting to chart a decline in the numbers of those experiencing homelessness are doing a disservice to those men and women who we have lost this year without the basic dignities afforded by secure housing. While so many of those who are tasked with ending homelessness in America won’t admit to the actual scope of the problem, they cannot be relied upon to enact meaningful solutions to it.

The National Coalition for the Homeless calls upon the Department of Housing and Urban Development to face up to the reality that homelessness is not diminishing in America. We call on HUD and its allies to work with us and other organizations to put into place housing policies and investments that will ensure an end to the memorial vigils that have become a disgraceful necessity every December 21st, the longest night of the year.

# # #

Full Disclosure: NEOCH Executive Director is a Board Vice President for NCH.

The National Coalition for the Homeless is a national network of people who are currently experiencing or who have experienced homelessness, activists and advocates, community-based and faith-based service providers, and others committed to a single mission: To prevent and end homelessness while ensuring the immediate needs of those experiencing homelessness are met and their civil rights protected. www.nationalhomeless.org