Find Help

Follow us on Twitter
Hope for the Homeless

Donate to NEOCH

About NEOCH

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.

The Cleveland Street Chronicle
Jim Schlecht Event

Entries in shelter funding (12)

Thursday
Aug032017

Atlanta Update on Homelessness

Atlanta has to be in the top 10 worst cities in the United States for homeless people.  In my opinion, San Diego is the worst city because they keep finding innovative ways to make life hell for those without housing, but Atlanta is up there.  There are some huge decisions coming  for City leaders in Atlanta, but based on past decision making homeless people are going to suffer.  Atlanta has had progressive Mayors for years and is the home to the King Peace Center, but cannot seem to get it together to unify leadership around an effective strategy to deal with poverty and homelessness in the region. Here is the write up from the National Low Income Housing Coalition "Notes from the Field:" 

Atlanta Passes Homeless Opportunity Bond

The Atlanta City Council unanimously approved an ordinance on July 18 to address homelessness over the next three years. Invest Atlanta, the city’s economic development authority, will issue a $26 million Homeless Opportunity Bond in an effort to make homelessness “rare, brief, and non-recurring.” This legislation culminates four years of work by the United Way of Greater Atlanta, Partners for Homes, and the City of Atlanta. The bond will finance activities targeted to homeless families and youth, chronically homeless individuals, and families at risk of homelessness.

The City Council approved an initial bond of $26 million with agreements from local non-profits to augment the city’s investment. The United Way of Greater Atlanta committed $26 million in matching donations, and Invest Atlanta will leverage $66 million in public resources to be used in conjunction with the bond, raising the total public-private partnership investment to more than $115 million.

The United Way and the City of Atlanta aim to end veteran homelessness by 2017, chronic homelessness by 2019, and youth homelessness by 2020, and the bond, together with the additional funds, are essential in meeting this goal. Together, the City of Atlanta and its partners plan to place 500 chronically homeless individuals in permanent supportive housing, secure permanent housing for 300 homeless families, and prevent 100 families from entering homelessness. They will also create 264 new emergency shelter beds and 254 new housing interventions for homeless youth by 2020.

In the last four years, the City of Atlanta has made strides in tackling homelessness. HUD reports that since 2013, the number of unsheltered homeless individuals in Atlanta decreased by 52%, chronically homeless individuals by 61%, and homeless veterans by 62%. The lack of affordable housing, however, leaves many at risk of homelessness. According to NLIHC’s 2017 Out of Reach report, Georgia renters must earn $14.25 per hour in order to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment and $16.79 per hour for a two-bedroom apartment. In the Atlanta metro area, these numbers are even higher: renters must earn $16.50 to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment and $19.04 for a two-bedroom apartment. The minimum wage in Georgia is $7.25 and the average renter wage is $15.61; both fall short of what renters need to keep rent and utilities under 30% of household income.  The new Homeless Opportunity Bond is a significant investment towards providing housing for the thousands of Atlanta residents experiencing homelessness. Chronic housing poverty – extremely low income renters paying so much for their housing that they cannot afford other necessities - puts thousands more at risk of homelessness.

 

I attended the US Social Forum in Atlanta in 2007 and have regular contact with Anita Beaty who ran the huge shelter down in Atlanta until earlier this year.  She and her group have basically been attempting to bring justice to City through three administrations. The City has gone down the path of most other cities in shutting down public housing, reducing the number of affordable housing units available, and eliminating access to emergency shelter.  Here is an article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution about Anita and her decades of work protecting homeless people.  The shelter has been under threat for a dozen years over a water bill and health issues.  Anita and her volunteers just want to provide a place inside for anyone who comes to the door.  She never wanted to hang up the sign the Peachtree-Pine shelter that there is "No Room at the Inn."  At the end of August, the Business Improvement District in the neighborhood will take over the shelter and stop taking new residents. 

Then by November 1 the main shelter in Atlanta will close down the building and the 1,000 people who use the Peachtree/Pine shelter will have to find another place to live.  As Atlanta enters the colder months of the year, they are going to have to find places for a significant number of fragile, disabled, those struggling with addiction, and men and women who cannot find a job.  There will be no overflow in the area and just like Cleveland, Atlanta has shuttered hundreds of shelter beds over the last eight years.  Whenever I look at other cities in America, it makes me so glad that we still have a commitment to try to house everyone who comes to the door. The above article indicates that the City is building new facilities to be ready by 2020 while the crisis is coming in November 2017.  I hope that the guys can hold out on the streets for three years while the new shelter is prepared.  

Also, don't believe any of the numbers in the above article.  The HUD Count is completely bogus; conducted by untrained volunteers with a different method in every city.  It is a one night count that has no relevance to the rest of the year, and attempts to count an extremely mobile community who by their nature attempts to stay out of sight.  Finally, building housing is expensive, and in a hot real estate market like Atlanta the $26 million will probably build enough housing for 150 people.  There are hundreds of homeless people who need help in Atlanta.  There will be tons of people waiting for a shelter bed once the city stops taking people into the Peachtree-Pine shelter.  Winter is coming to Atlanta.

Special to NEOCH by Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Saturday
Apr152017

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

 

Thursday
May212015

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.

 

Friday
Jan162015

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.

Saturday
Oct182014

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