The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless Board of Trustees debated the merits of the replacement human services levy on the November ballot and decided to support Issue 1. For those who do not know, the County has placed a replacement levy on the ballot for November 5 to support Health and Human Services locally. This is the first time there will be a vote in an odd year when there are typically only local municipal issues on the ballot. This became necessary because of huge cuts in the last two budgets from the State of Ohio to local governments and the hostility toward expanding Medicaid to serve our population.
This levy will replace the levy that was set to expire at the end of 2014, and will increase the property taxes for residents. This is repugnant that homeowners in Ohio must continually increase their own local taxes to pay for schools and human services because state leaders have abandoned their responsibilities. The State of Ohio does not help with funding the shelters taking a back seat to the local and federal governments. They continue to reduce support for alcohol and drug services. They do not adequately support public transportation. They have never brought justice to the funding of public schools and now are supporting a failing charter school system. The state does very little to assist with the affordable housing crisis and did nearly nothing when faced with a quadrupling of foreclosures in the State. They have not stepped forward to provide health care to every citizen in Ohio and only care about lowering taxes. They seem feckless in the face of job stagnation, growing family homelessness, and a mental health crisis. In an environment in which they close their eyes at the state level to everything but lowering taxes, it destabilizes the local community. We are forced to continue to find revenue sources for these services that should be covered by the State of Ohio.
We urge a yes vote on Issue 1 and urge State legislators to take responsibility for some of these issues such as poverty, universal health care (including behavioral health), school funding, and expanding affordable housing. With nearly one third of the poor people in Ohio living in Cuyahoga County, we cannot solve these big issues alone. We need Medina, Geauga, Hamilton and Butler county resources to stabilize the housing situation, expand job opportunities with large scale infrastructure projects, universal access to pre-k school, and real preventative behavioral health care. Without a state government willing to role up their sleeves and solve problems, we are stuck trying to cobble together levies and tax schemes to keep what we have going. We do not want to shut down the shelters next year (already with federal cut backs, we will not be able to fund two projects). We do not want to reduce access to detox or street outreach for the mentally ill. We do not want more addicts ending up in jail or more women seeking shelter in the house of a serial killer. NEOCH urges a yes vote on Issue 1 the expanded Health and Human Services Levy to keep our current safety net.
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