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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 shelter funding (11)


Some Good News for the Shelters

Y-Haven a program of the YMCA announced 80 new shelter beds in Cuyahoga County.  This will be in the space previously occupied by the Railton House operated by the Salvation Army.  Technically, these are not shelter beds, but they are going to be operated similar to the shelters.  We will count it as good news for the shelters. According to the Plain Dealer story:

The 80 new slots will be for:

  • 40 men who have completed drug treatment, with a priority given to those who are currently homeless and face significant barriers including co-occurring mental health problems and/or criminal histories;
  • 40 women, with a focus on those who have recently been released from prison or who are seeking diversion from prison.

It's the first time Y-Haven will offer its services to women, who are the fastest growing demographic in overdose deaths nationwide.

WCPN also covered the story here.  This will reduce the number of beds lost in the last decade to 464.  It is good that women struggling with addiction will have an alternative to the Women's Shelter on Payne Ave.   This will also help with the re-entry population in our community.  This is really good news in the community. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry



Great News For Open Records in Ohio 

The Ohio Supreme Court in a split decision sided with a reporter from Otterbein College in Westerville that will release the police records from this private college.   The Supreme Court decided that since these officers were doing public safety in place of the regular police force of Westerville Ohio they should be subject to public disclosure.  If the student had wanted to see local crime stats or how the police were responding to crime in the area, those records would be available through a public records request.  If they wanted to see how the Otterbein Police were responding, those records were denied because Otterbein claimed it was a private college not subject to public records request. 

The Ohio Supreme Court found that when a private corporation is engaged in replacing a public service, they must abide by the same disclosure requirements as the Westerville Police Department are subject to.   This is great news for then being able to pry open documents being held by private charities conducting public business. 

The publicly funded shelters in Cleveland are all subject to disclosure rules because they receive government assistance.  Those who claim to be a religion are not subject to the same disclosure and can keep their 990 tax returns private.  We hope that this ruling can be broadened to include other activities being done by non-profits operating public services such as prisons, schools, and shelters.  We could use more sunshine in all of these activities to show how our public dollars are being used to house people, educate them and incarcerate them.  All of these are previously done by government and now are being privatized largely in the dark.  We even have the oversight of whole industries being done by private industry such as fracking, financial transactions, waste removal and storage as well as power generation.  These are often skilled professions that government no longer has the skill to oversee, and is not deferring to non-profits or other corporations.  A little sunshine never hurt any industry or charity.  

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.



County Staff and Providers Discuss Homelessness

The County is the caretaker of much of the assistance for homeless people in Cuyahoga County.  We receive around $24 million in funding for homelessness and housing programs.  County staff complete the application for funding, and do a very good job of following all the rules to maximize our allocation.  While nearly every other city in Ohio has faced a loss of funding because of problems with their application, Cuyahoga County has never had this issue.  They could do a better job of overseeing the shelters use of these funds, but that is another post. Every jurisdiction that receives homeless funding must have a local committee to oversee the funds.  In Cuyahoga County, this group is the Office of Homeless Services Advisory Board.  There is a committee called the "Review and Ranking committee" which forwards the list to the Cuyahoga Council for approval.

This year, the federal government required the County Continuum committee to approve a plan for how to count homeless people on January 27, 2015.  This "Point in Time" count is the dumbest thing done by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.  There are a huge number of problems with the count including that it does harm to the homeless community by dramatically under-representing the number in a community.  The Homeless Coalition representatives both voted against the plan.  No one else joined in opposing the plan to attempt to "count" homeless people.  We would have no problem if federal government wanted to count the number living in shelters in Cleveland.  We can all trust that data, and we know that would be accurate.  Once they open it up to counting people outside on one night the data is useless.  Our issues with the Point in Time Count are:

  • The media and elected official misunderstand this data and regularly inaccurately portray this as some kind of census of homeless people.  There is no way to make the leap between one day and the number for a year.  It is factually flawed.
  • It violates all rules of collecting statistics for research.  To make this leap from those who you see on the streets to actually measuring a point in time stretches reality.  The variables of abandoned buildings, RTA rapid transit and buses, and hospital waiting rooms where homeless people may be staying make it impossible to do an actual point in time count.
  • Most of the other similar sized cities estimate the number of homeless people while Cleveland does not.  This makes it look like we have a tiny population compared to other cities.  They lie and we are honest locally. 
  • This exaggeration by other cities harms Cuyahoga County funding.  We get fewer resources because we have theoretically reduced the number of people sleeping outside.
  • No matter how great a job we do in serving homeless people (and we are doing a pretty good job), we are still the second or third poorest city in America.  With so many living in poverty, there are going to be many people struggling with housing. 

In other news, we heard that neighbors have filed a lawsuit to stop the next Permanent Supportive Housing project from going forward.  This will slow down the development of affordable housing for disabled homeless people in Cleveland.   It will cost additional funds to defend this lawsuit to overturn the building permit issued by the City of Cleveland. 

Shelter numbers for 2014 were released and we will post those on our website, because we trust those numbers.

The County limited the scope of the Public Policy committee to focus on a couple of narrow items.  There are huge issues in our community that shelter providers and social service groups should consider and layout a plan.  There are huge issues such as the explosion in family homelessness, the relationship between police and homeless people, problems with mentally ill homeless people, and recognizing and better serving victims of human trafficking in the women's shelters.  The providers are busy dealing with the crisis of homelessness everyday, and just don't have the time to weigh in on solutions.

There is still funding available to renovate the local shelters from the State of Ohio.  There are four projects going forward, but there is still funding available to help improve the facilities of local shelters. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.


More Cuts to the Shelters in 2014

The Office of Homeless Services "Advisory Board" met this week and approved another 2% cut for the transitional shelters and safe haven programs in Cuyahoga County.  Staff and County Review and Ranking committee members have come up with a strategy to better compete at the national level by eliminating social-service-only projects as much as possible because HUD hates funding service instead of housing.  It is hoped in the second round of funding the 2% can be restored, but there is no guarantee. We also learned at the meeting that because of stating publicly that we have cut long term homeless, Cleveland is penalized.  This dubious statistic was criticized by Richard Trickel in a guest blog, and NEOCH agrees that this 73% decrease in long term homeless is at best deceptive at its worst is an outright lie. It is understandable for the Department of Housing and Urban Development focused its funding on housing if Health and Human Services stepped forward to fund services.  We are getting cuts from the federal government while the number of homeless people especially families is increasing. 

At the meeting this last week, representatives from the Salvation Army and West Side Catholic both expressed concern over the continued declines in funding for shelters. Both expressed concern that any further cuts (7% two years ago, 5% last year and now 2% this year) could results in further closing of local shelters or the loss of beds.  In 2014, Continue Life closed after a cut in funding from HUD.  It is no wonder we have such a problem with families in light of shelters closing in Cleveland.  Over the years, we lost Triumph House, East Side Catholic, Continue Life, the Upstairs program (single women), and Family Transitional.  We have had reductions in other programs resulting in a huge gap in beds available to homeless people.  This would be fine if we were not also losing affordable housing in the community. 

Congress passed the HEARTH Act a couple of years ago, which mandated huge changes in the homeless funding system.  It prioritized long term homelessness, and mandated outcomes to reduce homelessness.  The bill passed with language that sought a doubling of the funding for shelters and housing programs for homeless people. In the toxic environment of Washington DC, this never happened.  Instead, we have seen a steady decline in funding, and shelters are closing.  HUD made these huge changes in the process and the rules and the expectations, but did not give the shelters additional funding to implement these changes. Remember, the shelters do not get an increase in funding for cost of living changes every year.  The funds that they received when they first started getting federal dollars is the top funding available to them.  They can reduce their request, but cannot ask for additional funding.   How many programs or households could survive if they had the same income from their core funding source for 20 straight years? 

With the cuts made by United Way, we have a real crisis in serving homeless people.   No matter what the County says about a decrease in long term homelessness, there are more people seeking help.  There are more people outside than we saw living outside last year, and there are fewer options for women and women with children.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry


Funding Changes Announced

The United Way of Cleveland announced yesterday that they were funding 70 fewer programs in the community.  The United Way website does not make it easy to compare funding from 2013 with the funding for 2014.  But we know that programs such as the Cleveland Tenants Organization and Hitchcock Center for Women were not included in the list of funded groups released yesterday.  It is impossible to compare the amounts from 2013 given to groups compared to those announced yesterday because United Way seems to have scrubbed their website and Google cashed version of the site of the 2013 funding levels.   It does seem that most of the homeless programs were funded including Care Alliance, Cleveland Mediation, Frontline Service, Legal Aid Society, Lutheran Metro Ministry, University Settlement, West Side Catholic, Transitional Housing Inc., Salvation Army and the YWCA.  It is hard to tell if the Catholic Charities programs such as the Bishop Cosgrove Center and Jewish Community Federation Program such as Bellefaire are funded at the same level.  There were a few new programs announced as receiving funding this year by the United Way that serve homeless people including Enterprise Foundation and the Cleveland Housing Network. 

They had divided their funding into Education, Income and Health with most of the homeless providers funded under "Income" which seems kind of a stretch.  Here is how the Plain Dealer described it:

A committee of 120 people--called community impact volunteers--vetted proposals and made funding recommendations. They were guided by strategies the United Way began honing in 2008. Its Collective Impact Approach calls for focusing on the most urgent needs in areas of income, health and education, even if that means parting company with old friends.

Robin Cottingham, a senior vice president at KeyBank who lead the community impact volunteers, said she challenged her volunteers to think about "sustainable impact" and to favor programs that would help prevent poverty, not just fight it.

I don't understand how Cleveland Tenants Organization preventing evictions and people going into shelters is not an essential vital service in the community that prevent poverty, but I was not on the committee.   I don't understand how treatment services are not considered a prevention program for those falling into poverty and homelessness, but that is the decision.  We will have to wait to see the fallout from the United Way change in direction. 

The Department of Housing and Urban Development also announced the table scraps available to the homeless programs after a second year of Sequestration.  They had previously announced the renewal funding and Cleveland had all the programs that were high priority funded.   This funding was for the programs that had to all compete with eachother for the money left over from HUD.  So, the Cleveland programs that were not funded as a top priority had to compete with Los Angeles, New York and Columbus for the money left.  We had seven programs that were either new or were not viewed by the local community as a high priority.   Only three out of the seven programs were funded.  The three funded programs were:

  • Another Permanent Supportive Housing Project for $62,699
  • West Side Catholic Collaboration with other women's program to provide transition services into housing for $367,135. 
  • West Side Catholic has a new project to provide rapid rehousing to women and families.  This is to replace the pregnant women program that did not seek renewal funding.

We had already lost the Bridging the Gap program and Continue Life shelter which did not seek renewal funding.   The programs that are currently operational that did not get funded by HUD include:

  • Frontline Services assistance to the Norma Herr Center at $39,032
  • LMM Housing Services to those at 2100 Lakeside at $50,157
  • Lakewood Community Services housing referral help at $41,398
  • Frontline Services Safe Haven for fragile populations at $229,897

We know that we already lost an outreach worker at Frontline Services due to funding cuts earlier this year and the men's shelter had to reduce staff who were focused on finding jobs for the residents.  We  will see how these additional cuts impact the shelters. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of the those who sign the entry.