Here is the take from the National Alliance to End Homelessness on the recently announced HUD funding cuts. NAEH has sadly turned into the leading public relations firm for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
"Overall, more people will be housed instead of homeless due to these results. More new projects than usual got funding, and more existing projects than usual lost funding. As a group, the newly funded projects will house more people than the projects that lost funding, because of more focus on exactly that outcome – housing people. The wellbeing of homeless people and the desire to solve the problem of homelessness are driving this change."
In Cleveland, we unexpectedly lost Y-Haven serving 113 people two weeks ago. We have heard a great deal of anger around the country from groups in Indiana, Florida, Baltimore, Mississippi, and Mesa Arizona. New York City has been overwhelmed with family homelessness leading to record numbers, but they were cut. Honolulu declared a "state of emergency," but they were not immune to the cuts for those with a disability. This was the result of HUD prioritizing housing over transitional shelters. It is the opinion of the "experts" that transitional housing programs screen out too many homeless people and they take too long to place people into housing. This is another step toward HUD funding exclusively housing programs while no other federal agency (Health and Human Services) picks up the slack to fund the emergency of being homeless in America. It is cold comfort to the man who loses housing on the rainy streets of Cleveland that they are stuffed into a church on a mat on the floor because the transitional shelter beds have lost funding.
We found out the Y-Haven will be able to survive the loss of federal funding. They are moving to Medicaid funding and have received a lot of support from admirers since the story appeared in the Plain Dealer. The director has assured advocates and Cuyahoga County that the program will survive after the ADAMHS Board, YMCA, and other local groups have stepped up to help. The reason that they were cut was that they honestly completed their application claiming that the shelter focused on recovery so had a screening process for those who are working on alcohol and drug issues. This eliminated some of the homeless population from entering and HUD objected to this screening tool or degree of specialization. The Salvation Army PASS program is the last standing in Cuyahoga County to receive federal dollars. We hope that they are preparing for a 2017 budget cut.
The statement from the National Alliance was heartless and misguided. There was this loud cry from the field from around the Country asking, "Why did HUD cut our local homeless programs?" NAEH shot back don't worry the new funding will help more people in the local community. It was like a federal agency commenting on the impacts of global warming on cities which will most likely flood, "Don't worry, we have planes ready to transport your most vulnerable to Omaha or Topeka." Thanks, but that is not what we need. HUD funded rapid rehousing programs which give short term rental assistance and intake centers throughout the country instead of existing transitional programs. The disabled guy in a wheel chair with a criminal background needs a place to sleep tonight not after a couple of weeks of paperwork, finding a landlord and hoping that accept a voucher for only three months guaranteed rent. Yes, you will serve more people, but not with the type of service that the local community needs. The family with two young children or the youth who is couch surfing every night needs a bed to sleep in tonight not a promise for rental assistance in three weeks.
Yes, there was more competition for the limited dollars, because once again our Congress is not doing its job. They are creating more problems then they are solving. They delay, deny and put demands on the local community that is only exacerbating the problems of poverty. In the past, communities had to pit shelters, services and housing programs against each other locally to receive their full allocation. They ranked the programs and those at the bottom were lost. Communities got smart and figured out how to play this game, and so now programs were forced to compete against programs at the national level with this horrible tiered funding system. It certainly does not promote cooperation or solving homelessness as a community. It promotes distrust and local programs distorting their programs to meet national goals while dismissing local priorities. It does not matter that Cleveland is seeing opiate deaths or more people released from prison who cannot go back to their houses and need more time to find stable places to live. We have to skip the shelters and move people into housing. It does not matter that our family and women's shelter are seeing huge numbers, HUD and their public relations firm NAEH know best.
The homeless veterans programs have made tremendous progress over the last five years by doing exactly the opposite of how HUD is working on addressing homelessness.
Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.