The new Request for Proposal to administer the Community Women's Shelter was published yesterday and is due July 28, 2017. We know that West Side Catholic is not going to pursue the grant this time. Obviously, based on the poor treatment that they received last time, who would want to go through that again? NEOCH hopes that some other provider will come forward to challenge the current homeless service provider at least to improve the service. This is the only shelter left in Cuyahoga County for single women so it is a critical service. The County and taxpayers benefits when groups compete for contracts.
There are some improvements over the last request, but there are still some troubling things in the submission. The new RFP is more focused on effective emergency shelter operations, but there is still the requirement to use Frontline Services (the new owner of Cleveland Mediation Center) to resolve grievances. What agency would have some other homeless service provider resolve their grievances for them? There is no plan for providing an off-site overflow if all the beds get filled. There is no requirement to show that staff are well trained in non-violence and de-escalation or to even know the social service system.
Two controversial items from the last round of funding were removed. One said that you had to operate a shelter of at least 125 per night in the past and you had to operate a safe facility in the past. The 125 bed requirement limited the number of agencies to five in Cuyahoga County who could possibly apply. The operating a safe facility in the old RFP was criticized by advocates who showed that the police were called hundreds of times to both entry shelters in Cleveland. Loh who regularly complains to County Council was regularly criticizing the County for giving a contract to an unsafe facility especially since she was repeatedly assaulted inside the shelter. There is nothing in the RFP to require that the shelter provider reduce the number of EMS/Police calls to the shelter.
This one provides 10 points to Project Budget and Narrative, but then requires the vendor to negotiate a contract with the County. They could bid low to get the 10 points and then negotiate a higher contract price once the County staff add items to the contract as additional expenses. Wasn't that the plot of the movie War Dogs? A provider gets no points for negotiating partnership agreements with other groups in the community, which seems strange. This time no dollar amounts were disclosed while the last contract had dollar amounts attached to the request, which is also strange.
You can find all the Requests for Proposals on the Cuyahoga County Website for more details or go to the pre-proposal conference on July 6, 2017 at 1 p.m. at 1641 Payne Ave conference room. Here is a copy of the RFP.
Post Script: The deadline was extended for this project until August 18 announced on July 24, 2017. It was announced last week that neither Frontline Services nor Lutheran Metro Ministry would be pursuing this grant as the main social service provider for this program.
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