Senator Becomes Involved in Coordinated Intake

Senator Rob Portman recently received notice from Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Community Planning and Development concerning Cuyahoga County’s centralized or coordinated assessment system. Senator Rob Portman had previously urged HUD to clarify the system requirements and how families who bypass the intake are served by publicly funded programs. He was joined in his questioning of HUD by Senator Sherrod Brown and Rep. Marcia Fudge.  Separately, Rep. Marcy Kaptur had made an inquiry of HUD regarding the Coordinated Intake system locally and how it was excluding residents of privately funded shelters.   HUD responded to Portman by, first and foremost, reconsidering regulations describing the responsibilities and the definition of homeless for Cuyahoga County. They concluded that their regulatory intent is not to disqualify individuals and families who meet the criteria of homelessness and who are residing in non-HUD funded shelters.

Furthermore, the letter to Portman explained that HUD had gotten involved with this matter starting in early 2014 when Brian Davis of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless mediated on behalf of residents of Laura’s Home. The families staying at Laura’s Home were seeking to bypass the coordinated intake system and directly place its residents in permanent supportive housing. However, HUD determined that Laura’s Home was following regulatory requirements and dismissed the NEOCH appeal. Cuyahoga County Continuum of Care staff then assured HUD that staying at Laura’s Home meet the definition of homeless, but were denying them access to other publicly funded services such as rental assistance and permanent supportive housing.

In the end, HUD concluded that The City Mission might have not only misunderstood Cuyahoga County  coordinated intake policies and procedures as they originally thought.  They now believe that HUD staff received incorrect information from Cuyahoga County and that local staff may not have followed the correct procedures that were described to HUD by County staff. Addressing the problem directly, HUD decided that they will intervene by providing technical assistance to Cuyahoga County staff in order to address the need of homeless persons regardless of how they enter the system. 

Since that time Cuyahoga County staff and City Mission staff have been working out a written agreement to get every resident of Laura's Home to be screened by Coordinated Intake.  The residents will not go through diversion and will maintain their eligibility to tax payer supported programs. 

Click here is a copy of the Letter to Senator Portman from HUD.

By Lora Zuo

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