Cincinnati Councilman introduces a law to protect against hate crimes. The article mentions that Cleveland has a hate crimes law, but it is a mere formality. It only applies to misdemeanors and is a recommendation not a requirement. How many attacks on homeless people were ever misdemeanors? It was a feel good piece of legislation. The Cincinnati folks want something with more teeth to address a rise in attacks on homeless people in the Queen City.
Additional state dollars given to the shelters in and around Cleveland. In the face of three years of federal cuts backs and shelters that closed in 2014, there is a small amount of support from the state. Emergency shelters have been starved for funds and these state dollars will not close the gap. It will keep hope alive that more funds are coming, but it will not make up for the huge loss of public support shelters have faced since the downturn. The trend in Washington is to fund expensive housing for the people who have been homeless the longest, veterans and young people. Everyone else is out of luck trying to find help in the face of budget cuts. In Cleveland this means nine months of overflow for families.
US Conference of Mayors report released including a number of Ohio cities. Take the data with a huge grain of salt. They are typically just asking one guy at City Hall what they think about homelessness and hunger. These guys call around to advocates, United Way or food programs and pull a figure out of the air. They are typically based on nothing hard or solid and they vary throughout the country. So, there is no way to compare Cleveland to Chicago or San Diego. But they do have the bigger trends in our community dead on. We are seeing huge increases in families and more people seeking help with food. We are seeing more young people who are homeless because we are finally paying attention to this problem. Despite the turn around, wages are still stagnant and people are then becoming homeless. Affordable housing is still out of touch for many living in cities with huge waiting lists and housing being taken out of the inventory because of age. So, pay attention to the message but ignore the numbers in the report.
Front Steps is rebranded name of Transitional Housing Inc. The program started back in the 1980s when a bunch of nuns got together to fill a need for single women without a place to live. They found an abandoned traveler's cheap motel that was slipping into the river as their home. It featured 60 individual apartments for homeless women with a unique funding stream which was the brain child of a few near west politicians including Mary Rose Oakar. It was owned by CMHA, but run by this non-profit organization and funded through the HUD Homeless Continuum and not the public housing funding. It was funded as an innovative program before HUD was giving a regular allocation to each city to address homelessness. The problem for many in the community was that those who got into the shelter then could transfer to a public housing unit so they were bypassing the waiting list. In 2012, the program went through a strategic plan with the County staff and many others sitting in and offering suggestions. It was decided by CMHA and the THI non-profit to move to permanent supportive housing model and away from transitional shelter. This resulted in a huge cut to the homeless funding and an expansion to serve men. They set up a special waiting list at CMHA and had to negotiate between three organizations to get people into the housing. We will miss the transitional shelter in the community where every unit turns over about once a year to a program that is, well...permanent. Housing programs typically only have a turn over rate of between 5 to 10 percent each year. This only adds to the problem of single women trying to find a temporary shelter bed in the community. We welcome more housing, but the cost is that people women have a harder time finding a short term place for their housing emergencies.
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