Bill Faith, executive director, of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, spoke to the April Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance meeting. He brings a wealth of information about the State of Ohio budget and its impact on housing and homelessness. Bill focused on the budget that the Governor submitted, which are subject to House and Senate approval. Many of the Governor's proposals are destined to be slashed because the Republican dominated Ohio Legislature does not want to ever ever ever raise taxes anywhere, never upon pain of death. Here are some highlights of his speech:
- The National Housing Trust will most likely now have funds in 2016, but it looks as though Ohio will only get about $10 million or less to preserve or expand affordable housing. The Ohio Housing Finance Agency will develop an implementation strategy similar to priorities set by the HOME program. These funds are no where near the level of cuts at the federal level to Public and Housing Choice Voucher over the last few years.
- The State will receive additional funds to help build additional housing for disabled individuals in conjunction with State Medicaid and Drug and Mental Health Boards (only 508 disabled individuals selected throughout the state).
- Bill talked about the horrible job the state did in renewing people on Medicaid as part of the Obamacare expansion. There was a very long application with confusing details on where to return the form and thousands did not respond.
- Maybe additional PRC funds through the welfare department for job placement and retention assistance. This is the proposal by COHHIO to counter the huge proposal to put huge funds into a new case management system at the local welfare offices.
- Massive cut to the income tax which benefits the richest people in the state the most. These $4.6 billion in the two year budget could do so much for improving infrastructure, local governments, increasing the housing trust fund, and public transportation. But sadly a missed opportunity.
- No controversy so far about expanding Medicaid because there are so many now on the program and benefitting from the service.
- There may be an expansion of the childcare assistance from those below 200% of poverty to those under 300% of poverty income.
- May be an increase in funds for Developmentally Disabled. This came about because of a series of lawsuits that showed that the system is overly reliant on institutional care for the developmentally disabled.
- The State may allow more of the Recordation funds go to the State Housing Trust Fund to go to a Housing reserve funds.
- COHHIO wants the state to do more to preserve mental health and recovery housing in the state as well as figure out a way to bill Medicaid for more of the supportive services offered at Permanent Supportive Housing buildings in the state.
- There is a toxic bill that would gut the fair housing regulations (SB 134) in the State of Ohio and make it more difficult to file a claim of discrimination. COHHIO fighting this potential regulation.
- The state agency that distributes tax credits is making some big changes this year to correct some of the problems from the previous year. COHHIO will weigh in on these changes.
- The Hardest hit funds for those in foreclosure is over and the funds to renovate shelters in the State was a one year allocation.
Next meeting is May 4 with First Call for Help and the State of Fair Housing at 1:30 p.m. at HUD lower level in Cleveland. The meeting is open to all.
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