Special Submission from Cleveland Tenants Organization
At the end of February, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released a new report on the scope of homelessness in America. HUD’s first-ever Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress (available online as an Adobe PDF at http://www.huduser.org/Publications/pdf/ahar.pdf) estimated that 754,000 persons are homeless on any given night. In America, the results are derived from two sources of data. The first, is a national sample of 80 randomly selected diverse communities that have implemented HUD’s homeless data collection system for the shelters. Cleveland was one of the randomly selected sites used in the data extrapolation. Second, HUD relied upon local one-night counts of homeless persons both on the streets and in shelters. That count took place in January 2005, across America.
In the introduction of the report, HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson was quoted as saying “We’ve got to remember that behind these numbers are people - individuals and families who are struggling to survive. This report is a powerful tool to help all of us at the federal, state and local level design more effective responses to homelessness and better help those who are living in shelters and on our streets.”
Despite the rhetoric, HUD continues to provide very small gains to homelessness in the shelters and limited housing programs, while making devastating cuts to the major affordable housing programs.
“This report does show a real need to increase funding for those HUD programs that preserve and expand affordable housing.” said Mike Piepsny, executive director of the Cleveland Tenants Organization. “It also shows that in order to truly make an impact on the number of homeless in America, funding for HUD programs that serve the homeless population and expand opportunities for affordable housing must be dramatically increased.”
Recent HUD budgets have sustained most of the Homeless funding while decimating all subsidized housing programs.
Brian Davis, Executive Director of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless also found some value in the report. “Using the methodology that HUD used in calculating the number of homeless in America, we clearly need to reconsider our estimates for Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. Using HUD’s method used in this report from 2004 poverty figures, we can extrapolate that between 15,000 and 22,700 people were homeless during that year.
Copyright Homeless Grapevine, Cleveland Ohio Issue 80 April 2007