Cleveland: Working on A Better Strategy

Commentary by Brooks Washington

Many men are moving out of the shelter into permanent housing with help from the governments Housing First Initiative.  This is a great program, but it has a number of flaws that seem to allow some men to get the government to pay for their housing more than once.  This, to me, seems like a waste of money and resources.  We now have tracking programs in place that can help us to determine what keeps an individual in homelessness, but the information is often ignored.  If an individual speaks loud enough about not getting service, and then threatens to go to the top person in charge of government funding or the news with his complaints, they get assistance multiple times.

Often that person is looking for a free ride and has no intention of paying his part of the rent and if his history had been checked it would have come out.  Many people that need a hand up don’t get one because the amount of money available is limited and the restrictions prevent them from being able to qualify for the programs.  While this is a valuable program maybe it’s time to update the eligibility points needed to get into the program.  Also, they could look at who will benefit the most and have a higher percentage of success in living independently. 

The big shelters are slowly being filled with a number of men who have a sex offence in their back ground and are now ostracized from society even after they have served their time.  Many of those men work at a low wage jobs.  Some have a good paying jobs, but are limited in where they can work and live.  Once the community is notified, they sometimes have to start over after losing their employment and or being asked to move by their landlord. 

Maybe after a number of years with no arrest a man can be given a second chance to re-enter society, and be allowed to take advantage of some of the programs that give a hand up.

We also need more affordable single occupancy units in the city along with better access to mental health programs with a housing component attached that help people with different leaves of mental health get into appropriate housing with the support needed to remain independent   

Keep working on it Cleveland we still have some work to do.      

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle September 2016 Issue 23.3 Cleveland, Ohio.