We asked Kathy Kazol to present at the last Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance meeting in January 2013 as she prepares to retire from EDEN Development Corporation. This was billed as a graduate level discussion explaining how to develop affordable housing based her 20 plus years of service to the community. EDEN is the lead organization in much of the Permanent Supportive Housing programs and the Shelter Plus Care program locally. Kazol has helped developed hundreds of fixed units of affordable housing and created thousands of housing vouchers. She has built EDEN into a major housing developer and created the opportunity to house thousands of our citizens. She was able to stitch together diverse funding from all levels of government in order to piece these deals together.
I think the most important information that she passed along which really set me at ease was her thoughts on the future funding for Permanent Supportive Housing. I have always been concerned that we are developing all these units of housing that only work with social service staff on site to offer case management help to the population and yet we do not have a dedicated long term revenue source to maintain these services. Would these buildings that house 60 to 120 severely disabled people become problems because the funds for the social workers drys up was a real concern. Kazol said that she believes that the new Affordable Care Act will create opportunities for a funding source for these services. One of the key provisions of the new health care law is that medical centers will be rewarded for stabilizing their clients and keeping them out of the emergency room. This will present an opportunity in the community to partner with health care agencies who can assist with behavioral health issues. There is no doubt that it is much easier to serve a population that is in housing then it is to serve someone sleeping on the streets or in the shelters. It is likely that a person without housing will show up in the emergency room repeatedly with ever more desperate health issues.
Other items that Kathy Kazol of EDEN talked about include:
- She focused her career on doing what was best for her clients.
- She believes that housing agencies need to spend more time on what was happening with government and the changes that are occuring.
- Kazol believed in stealing good ideas from other communities.
- Kazol was not a big fan of asking permission to do what was right. Many communities will put obstacles in the way to serve fragile populations. [My experience is the same that those who fear the unknown are much louder than those who don't care.]
- Kazol has worked over the last year working on setting up the internal processes to secure the organization for long term. After a period of huge growth she has worked to set up the administrative systems to sustain this growth.
- She talked about the incredibly low disability payments that make it so most disabled individuals cannot afford housing as a struggle that still needs to be addressed.
- Kazol did refute my concern that green building causes a reduction in the number of affordable houisng units being built. She indicated that the cost was not significant and the benefits were significant. The benefits far outweigh the costs.
- EDEN has 750 operational units of housing and 1,800 housing vouchers.
- Another issue that others will have to take up with policy changes includes what to do with sexually based offenders and where do they live?
- We need to reduce the regulations in order to produce more housing, and preserve the Tax Credit program.
- The homeless funding is driving the agenda in housing, but there are other populations who need housing. How do we house populations that are not a current preference for the HUD homeless funding?
- Finally, sometimes disputes come down to people just being bad people and trying to live next to them is impossible. Sometimes a group or a family just has to pick up stakes and move somewhere else.
We will have a feature on Kathy Kazol in the new Street Chronicle. Look for it on the streets in the next two weeks.
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