Draining the Swamp 2018-19 Issues Facing Homeless People
For homeless people, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is the most important agency and the decisions made in Washington have a huge impact on the lives of people without housing, those waiting for housing, and those who cannot afford the market rate for rent because they do not make enough money. The head of HUD is often more important to homeless people then who is the President of the United States. Cleveland receives $30 million from the federal government specifically for working to end homelessness. We gave our outlook for 2017 here. It was our estimate that homeless families are going to have a tough time, but 2018 is going to rough for every homeless person.
Outlook for HUD funded programs
- We will most likely have to increase the family homeless situation to 50 additional beds by 2018 on top of the 75 from 2017. We could see some small relief with an expansion of the Pay for Success program to more families, but that will not decrease the need for more shelter beds.
- Many of the resources for single adults will have dried up and more and more people will be asking for shelter. It is unlikely that Cleveland will be able to continue to guarantee access to shelter for those who request it, because we have closed so many beds over the last 10 years. We will have to figure out a strategy for what populations get a bed every night and which population is sent out to make it on their own. We hope that Metanoia will find a space so that those who cannot get a bed will have an overflow space year round. Metanoia will need to be prepared to serve 250 people per night including around 40 single women.
- We will most likely see another 2 to 8% cut to our homeless funding. This will mean another program will have to close in early 2019. At this point, the Permanent Supportive Housing programs or the rental assistance programs will be the last programs left standing to be cut. So, either we will have to evict people or eliminate supportive services to these extremely fragile people.
- There will be more of a push to privatize Public Housing so another reduction in the number of units available. Housing Choice Voucher will most likely be spared having already been cut to the bone. A privatization makes it harder to apply and harder to enforce common rules for providing quality housing to the population. HUD oversight staffing were already significantly reduced and that will continue. Media will have more and more stories about horrible subsidized housing conditions and tax payers will demand cuts. “We should not have our tax dollars going to these horrible conditions,” even though it our own fault for cutting the HUD oversight staff.
- The tax credit program for the development of housing will probably continue to expand, because the new administration seems to favor programs that result in tax cuts. Again, this is not a program to serve those living below poverty in Cleveland.
- In Cleveland, this will most likely mean a decline of 200 units in affordable housing because of a nationwide cut to HUD funded housing programs. Cleveland officials have done a good job maintaining the inventory while other cities have seen huge loses. We will not see the loses that will be seen in other cities, but local leadership will not be able to prevent all losses.
- No fair housing enforcement activities over because there will be an internal fight over who is in charge of these investigations.
- Those who have stayed in Permanent Supportive Housing or other subsidy programs for five or seven years will be told that they need to find other housing options. Some of these individuals will show back up at the shelters asking for help.
Other Issues for 2018-19 for Homeless People.
- A further rise in hate crimes against homeless people on a national level. Whenever there are more homeless people and government is passing laws harmful to homeless people or massive budget cuts, hate crimes against this vulnerable population rises. We will need a strong local Coalition to oppose these hate crimes, and it is unlikely that advocacy and public policy groups will be able to find funding when there will be so much human service needs overshadowing good government groups.
- Medicaid expansion will begin to be decreased in 2018 with only the poorest of the poor able to access the public insurance. The state will also be requiring a small co-pay for Medicaid. This will slowly deteriorate the number receiving coverage. This will force clinics like Care Alliance to begin to take on more of the indigent care out of local funding. This will decrease the health of the population and decrease access to mental health or drug addiction treatment.
- Another rise in assistance for the opioid crisis with more funding for treatment and even an increase in detox when more suburban young people are dying from the addiction, but there will not be the ability to get Medicaid reimbursement for some of these supportive services as was the original plan for Permanent Supportive Housing. This will mean that fewer people will have access to these units.
- Mental health funding may even see a boost in 2018 because of a State election and regular encounters between law enforcement and those with a mental illness living outside, but we will still have to deal with the reduction in Medicaid reimbursements.
- Funding for private hunger programs will continue to increase, because Cleveland has always been generous in the face of hungry children. We will probably see a sharp drop in those eligible for food stamps. We will need to increase the number of hot meal programs at religious organizations and the pantry programs. We will need to expand the school lunch program to also offer dinners or backpacks of food for the evening for those living in poverty.
- There will be many more people showing up at the shelters with deep intractable debt issues making employment and housing stability extremely difficult.
- Cash assistance will become a non-factor in the struggle to reduce poverty. Very few are eligible anymore because of lifetime limits and the small grants.
- Disability programs will be cut and turned into jobs programs to try to find employment for people who are currently on disability or who apply for assistance. Bureaucracies have a hard time pivoting to new ideas. This will take a long time to catch on and many families will fall through the cracks.
- Cleveland shelters will be under threat of defunding because they are unwilling to provide data to ICE workers.
- More homeless families with health issues will be asking for help in our community.
- Coordinated Intake will be in place to decide who gets a shelter bed and who gets sent to gymnasiums that are opened up every evening at closed down schools.
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