In most cities, the number of family experiencing homelessness increases during the summer. The summer is now over, and so we can look back on family homelessness in 2012 in Cleveland. As of September 12, there were 590 families who attempted to enter the shelters in Cleveland. Last year there were only 383 families who entered the shelters for the entire year according to statistics released by the Office of Homeless Services. That is a 154% of last year and we still have three more months. This is a huge increase that should trouble everyone. The County has had to put people into motels, and has developed a central intake system to get people into empty shelter beds faster. This is a bad news for the recovery from the financial crisis and housing bubble in Cleveland, and it surprising that the County and City are not raising the red flag. Why aren't they talking to the media or asking the state for help?
The economy has still not recovered in Cleveland, and the stimulus dollars are gone. Over the last two and a half years, Cleveland spent nearly $14 million to put people in housing, get them out of shelter quickly or prevent them from becoming homeless in the first place. This stimulus had implementation issues, but it was an overall success. Creating a prevention and rapid rehousing program from scratch is always going to have problems, but the bottom line is that it prevented hundreds of people from becoming homeless. It kept the shelters from bursting at the seams over the last year, and prevented a ton of heartache for many families. The elected leadership of Cleveland should be made aware of this incredible increase in family homelessness and should be asking for additional resources, additional stimulus and federal housing support.
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