How to Misuse Statistics

"Homelessness has dropped--but do you believe the numbers?" was the headline in the Plain Dealer.  It was weird that they are asking the public to weigh in or did they not get enough experts to weigh in so they have no idea?  Are the readers qualified to make this assessment?  Are the headline writers asking if the following article is fake news?  Then they don't even answer the question in the article by only presenting one side of the story and only interviewing Bill Faith of COHHIO.  Is this some kind of new journalism where the newspaper just asks questions and expects us to come with our own answers?

I can answer the question right now, no, homelessness has not decreased but the number of shelter beds in Cleveland has dramatically decreased.  Just during the Obama administration, Cleveland lost 328 shelter beds locally.  It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to count people when they are not in shelter.  Twelve years ago, we were spending 80% of the dollars locally on shelters and now we spend 80% of our homeless dollars on Permanent Supportive Housing.  Why are we using homeless dollars to pay for people living in housing permanently?  Why aren't they taking money from mental health, addiction services or some other housing program to pay for the 620 people residing in these units in Cleveland?  HUD can say that there is a 20% decline but it has no validity if there are not beds for people to sleep in then how do we measure?

The other major issue is that these stats are based on a one day count.  This is useless because the number of homeless people on January 25 in a cold city is different compared to the number of homeless in a warm weather city.  The number of people in shelter in Cleveland in January is much different compared to September.  There is no way to make a generalization from one day and make that into a trend.  It is like saying that because January 25, 2016 was 20 degrees colder when compared to January 25, 2015 that means that 2016 was substantially colder than 2015.  One day out of 365 means nothing.  Imagine if the Census counted only on one day with a bunch of volunteers who are not trained while removing 20% of the housing in a particular city every year and then tried to count all those people sleeping rough. No one would put any faith in the Census or use the data.  

Just read the report from HUD on the Complete Count if you have any questions (but I am not giving a link because it is useless information).  The first 20 pages are all about how bad the data is and every city does it differently and that it should not be used for broad trends.  The media, including the Plain Dealer, do not read the reports and then uses the data improperly.  The National Coalition for the Homeless issued a nice press release about the issue. The experts are trying to say to the new administration, "Hey, you did not waste all those billions on Permanent Supportive Housing over the last 12 years.  Keep funding us, because look we have reduced homelessness by 20% or some other bogus figure."   It is bogus science that should be thrown away, and propaganda from lobbyists who want to show that homeless money is not just thrown down a well of waste. 

There is no doubt that the PSH units have kept many thousands alive in the United States.  The problem is that they are overselling the program.  Most other trends in the community are bad, and PSH is the one program that is attempting to reverse the trends.  All the losses in subsidized housing (Public housing, Section 8, and HUD funded private landlords) far overwhelm the small gains in PSH.  The shelters are full and every bed has a waiting list.  Homeless deaths are up; addictions are up; family homelessness is up.  Better access to healthcare is the other bright spot in our landscape.  Homelessness is up in Cleveland and Ohio, but shelter beds are down.  Don't believe the hype from HUD or the so-called experts.  These so called experts will rue the day, when the State and Federal government cuts funding for homelessness and saying, "You guys said homelessness is down and we have other priorities.  If homelessness is down we can afford to cut the budget by 20%."   Rough times ahead.

Brian Davis

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Fair Housing Laws Under Attack in Ohio

 

 

Good morning advocates -- I hope you’re ready to help us fight a bill that would roll back civil rights in Ohio by 50 years.

This is not a joke. The Ohio House is considering a measure that would make housing discrimination legal. Hard to believe, but HB 149 (SB 134 in the Senate) would make it legal for certain small landlords and homeowners to discriminate based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, family status, military status, etc. when they rent or sell their properties. These bills would also dramatically reduce or remove important sanctions, which currently provide disincentives to discriminate.

You can learn more about these anti-fair housing bills by reading editorials from the Akron Beacon Journal, Toldeo Blade or the Cleveland Plain Dealer, who also oppose the measures.

While we’ve slightly slowed the speed at which this bill is moving, we need your help immediately to reinforce our efforts.

Please help stop our legislature from rolling back civil rights 50 years! Call your elected officials by WEDNESDAY, June 3. See details below:

House Committee on Financial Institutions, Housing,
and Urban Development

Call List for Opponents of HB 149 – amending Ohio’s Fair Housing Law

Please call the Committee Leadership (below) with the following message:


I’m calling today to urge Representative _____________ to OPPOSE House Bill 149. I think that Ohio’s Fair Housing Law should not be changed. It has served us well for 50 years, and House Bill 149 makes unnecessary changes that will weaken civil rights laws.

-OR-


I want Representative _____________ to know that House Bill 149 is WRONG FOR OHIO, and that I expect her/him to OPPOSE House Bill 149, in order to protect the strong civil right law that we’ve had in Ohio since 1965.


Louis Terhar (R) – Chairman - Cincinnati area
District 30
Phone (614) 466-8258

Stephen D. Hambley (R) – Vice Chairman – Brunswick area
District 69
Phone (614) 466-8140

Christie Bryant Kuhns (D) – Ranking Member – Cincinnati area
District 32
Phone (614) 466-1645
 
If you are represented by one of the following committee members,
please also call using the same message.

Andrew Brenner (R) – Powell area
District 67
Phone (614) 644-6711

Tim W. Brown (R) – Bowling Green area
District 3
Phone (614) 466-8104

Mike Dovilla (R) – Berea area
District 7
Phone (614) 466-4895

Bob D. Hackett (R) – London area
District 74
Phone (614) 466-1470

Bill Reineke (R) – Tiffin area
District 88
Phone (614) 466-1374

Gary Scherer (R) – Circleville area
District 92
Phone (614) 644-7928

Robert Sprague (R) – Findlay area
District 83
Phone (614) 466-3819

We can stop these bills if we all pitch in. I appreciate your help in protecting 50 years of civil rights progress. Let's slam the door on housing discrimination in Ohio!

Many thanks,

Bill Faith

Executive Director and Chief Lobbyist for the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio

Faith Says Very Little Good in Ohio Budget

Bill Faith attends a Medicaid Expansion Rally in Columbus. Photo from COHHIO.org 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.

Brian Davis

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CAHA Featuring Bill Faith of COHHIO

Every other year, we like to hear from the leading lobbyist for an end to poverty in Ohio, Bill Faith executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing.  The Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance meeting is a once a month look at the state of housing locally.  We review troubled properties and check in on various programs that meet the housing needs to those struggling in the community.  The April CAHA meeting will feature Bill Faith who leads the state housing coalition. 

The meeting is April 6, 2015 at 1:30 p.m. at the HUD offices at 1350 Euclid Ave. in the lower level. The meeting is open to the public.  Bill will talk about the Ohio State budget proposals being discussed down in Columbus.  Faith will give some highlights of the potential budget and its impact on housing and homelessness in Ohio.  He will talk about the State Housing Trust fund and the national budget.  The National Housing Trust finally has money and what will that mean for Ohio.  Join us to hear Bill Faith provide his take on state and national issues.

Brian Davis

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Columbus Street Newspaper Video

The Columbus Coalition for the Homeless publishes a monthly social justice paper called Street Speech. Low-income individuals buy and sell the newspaper and collect donations from Columbus citizens. These low-income individuals get a sense of pride knowing they are making an honest living and feeling better about themselves. If you want to find out more about Street Speech or the Columbus Coalition for the Homeless check out their website here: http://www.columbushomeless.org/.   This was put together by the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio to educate pedestrians in Downtown Columbus about the value of the street paper. 

The Columbus paper has grown substantially over the last eight years.  It is much bigger than the Cleveland Street Paper which has published for 21 years.  The paper has a newer editor who has been with the paper for the last year.  It is a really good paper for the capital city.  Check out the video interviews with Columbus Street Speech vendors. 

by Sarah and Brian

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