A Letter from the OHS Advisory Board to Mayor Frank Jackson

The Honorable Fran Jackson, Mayor

Re: Cleveland/Cuyahoga County Office of Homeless Services Advisory Board

Dear Mayor Jackson:

                As the newly elected co-chairs of the City of Cleveland/Cuyahoga County Office of Homeless Services (OHS) Advisory Board we are writing to introduce ourselves and to express our commitment to continue working together with the elected officials of the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County to address the issues of homeless in our community. We acknowledge and appreciate the past support of the City and Cuyahoga and look forward to working with your representative on the Advisory Board.

                Established in May 1992, through a City of Cleveland Ordinance, the OHS Advisory Board was given broad goals to:

  • Assist the Office of Homeless Services in implementing the community’s Homeless Plan,
  • Facilitate interagency and intergovernmental cooperation,
  • Identify and review public policy issues impacting homelessness,
  • Develop funding priorities, in particular for public funds,
  • Establish criteria to evaluate delivery of services, and
  • Develop avenues to communicate concerns regarding policy issues.

Although our community has nor resolved the problem of homelessness, much progress has been made. Whole diversifying and strengthening the OHS Advisory Board membership and offering more opportunities for formerly homeless individuals, we have:

  1. Reviewed and set a policy standardizing the grievance procedures for people being served in homeless programs.
  2. Established guidelines for requesting a participant to leave an emergency service program.
  3. Institutes clear criteria for new projects seeking funding through the HUD Continuum of Care funding process.
  4. Improved the review and ranking projects for the Continuum of care, including a process for monitoring agencies with deficits.
  5. Worked in collaboration with the Coalition for Affordable Housing to assist in developing a plan to prevent homelessness and increase the supply of affordable housing.

We would like to acknowledge one aspect of the Office of Homeless Services. This office is instrumental in the Greater Community receiving millions of dollars in funding from HUD in its Continuum of Care process, which becoming increasingly competitive. The Office if Homeless Services staff managers a community application process that has been successful in maintaining the community’s pro rata shares of HUD homeless dollars.

Even with these successes, the community continues to face challenges including:

  • Finding a source of funding for homeless prevention efforts as the $20 million from the continuum of Cleveland of Care only be used for intervention and not prevention.
  • Relieving the severe rent burdens facing many Cleveland households.
  • Devolving alternative for people being released from the prison system that minimize the risks of homelessness.

Both through our involvement on OHD “Advisory” board and our profession experiences, we are well acquainted with the issues and challenges facing our community as well as the ability to make lists within letters. We pledge to work with your Office and others to continue addressing the problem. Our focus for the next year will be:

  • Developing effective homeless prevention strategies,
  • Support the completion of the Heading Home planning process, and
  • Improving the Continuum of Care process further to assure HUD funding for homeless services.

We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to dialogue about the important issue, the OHS Advisory Board’s work, and to answer any questions you might have about the Homeless Continuum of Care.

Sincerely,

Valeria Harper-Bledsoe                                                                                Dianna M. Cyganovich

Co-chair                                                                                                                               Co-chair

Copyright Homeless Grapevine Cleveland Ohio Issue 76.