Thanks to HUD and Folks at CAHA

Thanks to the local Department of Housing and Urban Development staff and Office Director Pamela Ashby for the certificate yesterday at my last Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance meeting as Executive Director of NEOCH.   CAHA started in the late 1990s by NEOCH, Cleveland Tenants Organization, Legal Aid Society,  Alliance of HUD Tenants, HUD, City of Cleveland Community Development, CMHA, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, and Cuyahoga County Department of Senior of Adult Services.  It was started to work to preserve and protect affordable housing.  The goal was to assure that all groups were operating on the same page with the same information.  It was an attempt to know before a property was lost to foreclosure, and then advocates could go about their work to bring publicity and mobilize coalitions. 

I have had the honor to work to with Phil Star (CAHA Chair), Spencer Wells, Cleo Busby, Linda Warren, Peter Iskin, Scott Pollock, Marty Gelfand, two executive directors (Mike Foley and Mike Piepsny) from CTO and many others to keep this program going for years.  I worked to schedule guests for the meeting every month.  NEOCH is committed to continuing this group and is proud that CAHA serves 30 members on the first Monday of the month.  Thanks to everyone for setting aside time every month to talk about affordable housing in our community.

Brian Davis

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CAHA Featuring Bill Faith of COHHIO

Every other year, we like to hear from the leading lobbyist for an end to poverty in Ohio, Bill Faith executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing.  The Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance meeting is a once a month look at the state of housing locally.  We review troubled properties and check in on various programs that meet the housing needs to those struggling in the community.  The April CAHA meeting will feature Bill Faith who leads the state housing coalition. 

The meeting is April 6, 2015 at 1:30 p.m. at the HUD offices at 1350 Euclid Ave. in the lower level. The meeting is open to the public.  Bill will talk about the Ohio State budget proposals being discussed down in Columbus.  Faith will give some highlights of the potential budget and its impact on housing and homelessness in Ohio.  He will talk about the State Housing Trust fund and the national budget.  The National Housing Trust finally has money and what will that mean for Ohio.  Join us to hear Bill Faith provide his take on state and national issues.

Brian Davis

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Interesting CAHA update on CMHA

The Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance Meeting took place last week and the big news was that CMHA is going to have to open the Section 8 (Housing Choice Voucher Program) waiting list.  The last time it was opened was 2011 and 10,000 names were drawn.  The problem is that the list is getting stale with most of the people on the list no longer around.  They either do not respond or have relocated or are no longer in need.  It is most likely that this summer they will have to re-open the waiting list for the voucher program in August or July. 

Everything will be pretty similar to 2011 with the application open for 5 to 7 days exclusively online (no paper applications).  Everyone in need of housing or who suspects they will need help with the rent between now and 2020 should apply.  We will have more details in the near future.

Public Housing officials also attended and reported that there are 9,600 total units in the Public Housing inventory with 99% occupied.  There are now 20,700 people waiting on the wait list with 70% waiting for a single bedroom. The current Public Housing list is 36% families and 23% seniors.  25% of the residents do not have income and 20% are on Social Security.  18% are employed and 17% are on some form of disability.  In a sign of how trivial cash assistance is now in the world only 2% of the total population receive assistance from the welfare department. 

CMHA is starting to rebuild Cedar Estates and renovate Bohn Tower and the former Garden Valley apartments.  They are working on the final phase of Carver Park and renovating Riverside Park.  Some of these properties are being renovated using private bank financing, which had been prohibited in the past. 

The President's budget is favorable toward the housing authorities, but who knows how that will play out by October.  The Housing Authority is working on how these newly created units developed with private dollars will integrate into the public housing system.  This current system has the highest number of occupied units since 1988.  The Housing Choice Voucher program has 14,000 participants and the program but is under utilized.  Most people are not showing up for their appointments to fill the voucher program and the waiting list is rather stale.  CMHA officials estimate that they will exhaust the Housing Choice Voucher waiting list in May of this year. 

The Voucher program is working with the long term homeless, veterans and those aging out of the foster care system.  They are planning to assist with the Pay for Success program to keep the time spent in foster care down.   There are 60 to 70 who leave the program every month and there are only 2,700 left on the 2011 waiting list.  There are 305 in the Veterans program and more to give out. 

The next CAHA meeting will feature Bill Faith of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio on April 6, 2015 at 1:30 p.m.

Brian Davis

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CAHA Meeting Postponed

Because of Groundhogs Day and the depression most of us felt when we heard that the Pennsylvania rodent had predicted another six more weeks of snow, we had to postpone the CAHA meeting for today.  We hope to reschedule for next Monday February 9 at 1:30 p.m. at HUD (1350 Euclid Ave.)  We will post an update on Tuesday.  We hope to have a discussion of the move of Coordinated Intake to 1736 Superior Ave. and the housing assistance for veterans.  Stay tuned for more details.  Here is the link to more details on CAHA.

Brian Davis

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Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Forum on Monday

The Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance (CAHA) is Monday January 5, 2015 at 1:30 pm. at US Bank Centre Building at 1350 Euclid Ave. Lower Level.  It should be an interesting meeting about the state of the Community Development Organizations in Cleveland.  

We have talked about the changes that have taken place over the last few years in the world of the Community Development organizations with the presentations of both UCI and Famicos at CAHA.  At the January meeting, we have invited Kathy Hexter of Cleveland State University and Bryan Gillooly of Bellaire Puritas CDC and Timothy Tramble of Burton Bell Carr Development to provide a look at the work of the CDC now and in the future.  How do they organize neighbors and how will they maintain access to affordable housing locally?  What will the pressure to show outcomes mean and the neighborhood work necessary to clean up after the housing foreclosure crisis?  We have invited City of Cleveland officials to also talk about the changes in the Ward boundaries and the effect of the cuts to Community Development Block grants.

As always we look at any troubled property in Cuyahoga County.  This is the 17th year of CAHA. A monthly meeting to check in on the status of affordable housing locally.  The goal is to stop the loss of affordable housing.  All are invited to attend.  Contact NEOCH to get on the e-mail list.

Brian Davis

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CAHA Housing Meeting from June 2014

At the recent Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance meeting held on Monday, June 2 at the US Bank Centre, attendees discussed various changes, updates, and projects concerning public housing.

Starting off the meeting was Priscilla Pointer Hicks of the Housing choice Voucher program. Hicks, retiring this summer, gave a summary of the CMHA Voucher program. She detailed the effects of HUD’s 2013 budget cuts, such as slowed voucher issuance, weaker customer service quality, and the loss of a third of her staff. In addition, Hicks mentioned that 900 vouchers are currently underutilized due to an increasing turn-over rate of homeless veterans. Moreover, only 95% of the budget is being spent, which is a stark contrast to the ideal 97% and last year’s 105%. The lower spending can be seen as a direct consequence of the staff and budget cuts. However, Hicks was also quick to recognize the many positive aspects of her program and the numerous improvements underway.

For one, the program’s customer service call center is being replaced by their caseworker system in which individuals are assigned a personal caseworker. Also, a new inter generation housing property containing 40 units will be a new addition to the community. These positive changes are harbingers of a brighter future for the public housing sector, and we have Hicks to thank for some of these changes. She served her community selflessly for 15 years but will now hand over the reign to Latweeta Smyers, a former New Orleans housing director of asset management. We wish both Hicks and Smyers luck in their future endeavors.

Scott Pollock of CMHA Public Housing spoke next and presented his periodic look at the Housing Authority. Pollock spoke on matters regarding the federal budget, current demographics of housing residents, and development activities. Of those development activities, one stood out in particular: RAD, the Rental Assistance Demonstration program. A voluntary program of HUD, RAD allows public housing and modern rehabilitation (Mod Rehab) properties to convert to long-term Section 8 rental assistance contracts. RAD, according to Pollock, is spearheading the future of public housing by generating funds the CMHA Public Housing program requires now that capital funding is in decline.

The capital fund is currently at $1.9 billion – a slight increase from last year but not quite sufficient nonetheless. In D.C., the House proposed budget of $4.4 billion was also unsatisfyingly lower compared to the President’s budget of $4.6 billion, highlighting further budget concerns for HUD with direct implications on Pollock’s program. On a brighter note, Pollock touched upon six new projects in the works, some of which include a cedar extension unit and a heritage view unit, both of which have been funded and approved. Pollock then briefed the rest of the group on the amendments of the 2014 Housing Agency plans and the future hearing to be held in July of this summer. He expressed hope for better quality housing and increased funding for the future.

Other notable updates in the meeting included a report on the proposed move of HUD Multifamily staff out of Ohio and a report on Troubled Properties. On a final note, all these changes and updates discussed at the meeting will surely have an impact on the community, and we hope that the members of the Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance will continue their work to foster positive change. Please contact  Brian Davis at (216) 432-0540 for questions and suggestions about the meeting.

by Lora Zuo

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Upcoming CAHA Meeting

Next week the Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance Meeting will feature a discussion of evictions over the last year and a look at the environmental issues associated with housing.  Housing Specialist, Robert Fuchs of Cleveland Housing Court will talk about the numbers of evictions and trends within the City of Cleveland.  We have not had the rental assistance funding we had in 2010, and so we will see how this impacts evictions in Cleveland.  He will be prepared to answer questions as well.  Cleveland represents about half the evictions within Cuyahoga County. 

Michael Piepsny, Executive Director of the Environmental Health Watch will talk about green building, lead safety issues and an update on the agencies activities.  EHW has a plan to assist Medicaid providers with providing healthy homes to at-risk populations.   EHW oversees green energy projects and advocating for healthy homes. 

The meeting is Monday March 3 at 1:30 p.m. in the lower level of the US Bank Building where the HUD offices are in Cleveland.  The meeting is at 1350 Euclid Ave. in the Playhouse Sqaure district.  We also typically get an update on troubled property in Cuyahoga County.  The meetings are open to the public.

Brian Davis

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CAHA Meeting Cancelled for Monday

We have written about the desire by Cuyahoga Suburban Development staff to learn the addresses of those who live in the suburbs and receive rental assistance from EDEN (mentally ill and other disabled clients).  We have developed a petition to respond to this invasion of privacy on the website.  We are still collecting signatures here... to sign in support of getting the suburban government out of the business of monitoring the addresses of the disabled.  The staff at First Suburbs Consortium after reading the petition and hearing concerns asked to be put on the agenda for the Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance Meeting.  There was not room on the December meeting agenda, but we made space for the Monday January 6, 2014 CAHA meeting for a fuller discussion.  Right before Christmas, staff of the First Suburbs Consortium dropped out of the meeting. 

We have decided to cancel the CAHA meeting for Monday and move forward with our regular agenda for the February 3, 2013 meeting at 1:30 pm at 1350 Euclid Ave.  It is a shame that the housing community will not have a chance to put the issues on the table and hear the reasons for this information and the reasons that so many oppose this invasion of privacy.  NEOCH staff hope that this issue is dead in 2014 and the First Suburbs will not be asking for this information in the future.  

Brian Davis

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Next Week Monthly Affordable Housing Meeting

One of the most fragile groups because of the Sequestration and the fact that regular federal budgets are not passed is the public housing authorities around the United States.  We worry about how the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority in Cleveland is surviving with the unstable funding from the federal government.  They have taken hit after hit and forced to rely on reserves that have dwindled over the last five years to house the thousands of people waiting for affordable housing locally.  They have done everything they can to avoid evictions as a result of budget cuts, but it is a huge juggling act.  This next Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance meeting is Monday December 2, 2013 at 1:30 p.m. in the lower level of the US Bank Building (1350 Euclid Ave. ) and will feature both sides of the CMHA programs.

We will feature Scott Pollock CMHA Public Housing to present his periodic look at the Housing Authority at the Monday CAHA meeting.  Pollock will update us on development activities, waiting list numbers, federal budget issues, and current demographics of those housed.  Priscilla Pointer Hicks of the Housing Choice Voucher Program will provide a periodic update on the Voucher Program including occupancy rates, waiting list, turnovers and the saturation into the suburbs.  Pointer Hicks will talk about federal budget projections and the impact on the local agency, and any trends with the voucher program. Finally, Ken Williamson of Senator Sherrod Brown’s office will take a few minutes to discuss the move of the Multifamily HUD unit to Detroit.  The Senator's office has done some work on this issue and would like to report.

All are welcome to attend to hear more about the Housing Authority. 

Brian Davis

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More on the Local Impact of the Government Shutdown

Yesterday at the Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance Meeting we learned a little more about the impact of the Federal Government shutdown on housing and homeless programs.   The FHA is still in business doing verification of home loans, unfortunately, the IRS is not in business to verify income.  This will grind the home sales market to a standstill eventually.   No one is working at HUD to sign off on projects currently under construction.  It makes it difficult to pay construction and tradesmen working on subsidized housing projects locally. Contrary to popular belief there are affordable housing projects being developed locally.   There are permanent supportive housing projects that are supposed to open this winter, but there is no one at HUD to sign off on the work.  

The Housing Authority has money available through the end of the calendar year for Public Housing.   The voucher program only has funds through the end of October.  No one knows what will happen after the witching hour of Halloween.  Will staff be furloughed?  Will rents be paid to landlords?   Will there be an attempt to prioritize which bills to pay.   There are already a mythology in the community about voucher holders and the impact on the neighborhoods with only half the available properties willing to accept a tenant receiving a subsidy from the Housing Choice Voucher program.  This would certainly cause harm to the organization and their image in the community if they run out of money because of the government shutdown. 

More to come...

Brian Davis

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Next CAHA Meeting Foreclosure and the Clean Up

The next meeting is October 7 at 1:30 and will feature Bill Whitney of the Cuyahoga Land Bank and Lou Tisler of Neighborhood Housing Services.  Bill will give his regular update on the clean up of the foreclosure crisis in Cleveland.  The land bank is taking down shells of housing so that the land can be re-developed into parks, farm, or housing.  They are also working with a few community groups on creative solutions to the protect Cleveland neighborhoods going forward.  Recently, they were granted permission to use some of the foreclosure assistance money to take down more abandoned properties when the Treasury Department decided to allow the hardest hit fund to go to demolish housing.  This had been used to save people's homes and now it will be to wipe away abandoned housing.   Someday at CAHA after the foreclosure crisis is over we will have to discuss if the American dream of homeownership is now dead for millions of lower income families now that the housing bubble has burst and we taken down thousands of units of housing.   We will hear about all the latest news on the first land bank program in Ohio.

In addition, we will have Lou Tisler from Neighborhood Housing Services who is still working with current home owners to prevent foreclosures.  His group is trying to help people restructure their mortgages and working to save homes. They help with mortgage homebuyer education classes and they are the home of the Cuyahoga Land Trust.  NHS is working with more and more people from the suburbs, and working to keep people from giving up on their quest for the American dream and preventing the nightmare of a family moving to a homeless shelter.

Monday October 7 at 1:30 p.m. at the US Bank building (yes, we understand the irony of holding a meeting about foreclosures and the devastation caused in our community in a building owned by one of the mortgage cartel traffickers) at 1350 Euclid Ave. in the lower level.

Brian Davis

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The Future of CAHA

The last CAHA meeting was about the future of HUD in Ohio.  In a cost saving move HUD will be closing nearly all of the HUD multifamily field offices in the United States. These are the offices that oversee private landlords who serve low income families (Lupica, Rainbow Terrace, Emeritus House).  Every resident in the building gets a subsidy from the federal government.  HUD monitors the quality of these buildings, assures compliance with federal rules and is the government watchdog to make sure that the buildings maintain occupancy rates.  The Cincinnati office has already closed with Columbus and Cleveland closing their multifamily offices in 2014.   They are moving staff to DETROIT?? and Chicago.  Does anyone find it ironic that HUD multifamily staff will be located in a bankrupt city with a similar number of abandoned properties as the area around Chernobyl in the Ukraine?

We started CAHA twelve years ago when many properties were on the verge of being foreclosed on, and Cleveland was slated to lose over 1,000 units of affordable housing.  We wanted to stop the destruction of Longwood (now Arbor Park) and other large properties.  We also wanted to know with enough warning if properties were "in trouble" before foreclosure and the loss of subsidized housing.  We were concerned that HUD was manufacturing a crisis. They had allowed properties to rot while still sending out a subsidy to these absent landlords every month.  Then they would foreclose on the property giving every tenant a voucher, which they could use anywhere in the United States. Cleveland got a rotted out shell of a building while the owner walked away with millions in building maintenance money he used for his annual vacation or boat with no penalty. The tenants got a voucher and we lost an affordable place for people to live in the future.  We felt that if HUD were doing their jobs they would never allowed the property to fall into disrepair.  HUD, because of a lack of oversight, created a situation in which a property was not fit for human habitation and then instead of funding a new building or forcing building owners to improve the conditions, they just shut the buildings down. No fuss and with the stroke of a pen, the community has fewer places that are affordable for poor people.

CAHA was started so that City, County and advocates can hear directly from HUD regarding buildings that may be in trouble.  We can get updates and get ahead of any problems.  There are similar groups in Columbus and Cincinnati as well.  Now that these offices are closing what is next for the residents and building owners.  HUD staff gave a detailed presentation of why they will be closing the office and possible plans.  There will still be HUD staff in Cleveland, but just no one to update us about the buildings in our community.  Staff have been assigned to oversee buildings from around the country.   So the HUD Staff assigned to a problem building in Cleveland may be in the Seattle Washington multifamily office.   They may never have seen the building they are assigned to oversee.  They are not able to come to Cleveland to report on the building and why it is in trouble. 

It is likely that CAHA will continue, but we may need to figure out a new way to get information from HUD. We may need to video conference with the Detroit office.  We may need to receive information electronically or seek written reports on the status of multifamily properties in Cuyahoga County.  We will figure out a way to get the information so we never again are in danger of losing thousands of units of affordable housing. 

Brian Davis

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CAHA Looks at Land Trusts on 9/9/2013

The next Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance meeting is moved to September 9, 2013 because of Labor Day. This meeting we will look at the changes that are taking place with HUD locally and how this will impact Cleveland tenants living in HUD backed apartments, current landlords and even the CAHA meetings in the future.  We will also get a good overview of the Land Trust program (not the Land Bank program). 

Marge Misak, Land Trust Program Director at Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland. The presentation will include how the land trust works as a tool for meeting the affordable housing needs of area residents; as a tool for community reinvestment strategies; and as a tool for assuring long-term affordability.  The discussion will include NHSGC's current land trust development as well as engaging participants in a discussion of expanded use of the land trust tool in Cuyahoga County.

Moving HUD MultiFamily out of Ohio.  There is a plan that HUD Multifamily staff to Detroit.  What does this mean for CAHA?  What will this mean for oversight and changes in agency structure to better serve residents and owners of HUD Multifamily Housing in Cleveland and Ohio?  

The meeting is open to the public. It is a 1350 Euclid Ave. in the lower level of the US Bank Building at 1:30 p.m.   This is the 13th year of these meetings locally. 

Brian Davis

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Rights of the LGBT Community and Homelessness

The last Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance meeting this week featured Kris Keniray of the Housing Research and Advocacy Center gave a presentation on a change in the fair housing law being implemented by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  In 2012, HUD published the rule which regulates all programs funded by federal housing dollars provides for equal access to housing regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity (contained in the Federal Register Feb. 3, 2012 Vol. 77 No. 23).  The new rules went into effect on March 5, 2012, and governs Public Housing, the Voucher program, Block Grant funding, HOME dollars, FHA mortgages, and even Emergency Shelter grants. 

The Housing Authority is changing their annual plan and attempting to incorporate these regulations into their local rules.  The big change is going to have to take place in the shelters.  There is a YouTube video dealing with this new rule on the HUDChannel [search for HUD LGBT Rule Webinar (updated) 3/5/12].   Shelters have not effectively dealt with the transgendered for years.  In Cleveland, those who present as male and the larger number of genetically male who present as female have lived at our largest men's shelter for years.  In 2012, the Community Women's Shelter changed their policy to meet the new guidelines, but I have not seen the other shelters make changes.  Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s there were not as many presenting at the shelters who were transgendered and the community could afford motel vouchers to keep the individuals safe and not force them onto the streets.   Some of the deeply religious programs are not going to like this new policy, but that is the cost of taking public money.  How will the shelters that are in churches at night going to like when a Mom and Mom with her kids show up in need of shelter? Is the Salvation Army (which is a religion) going to be okay with a Dad who presents as a woman at the shelter?

The rule is pretty clear, but the fundamentalist religious organizations that receive public money are going to be very skeptical about this new policy.  They are going to have to offer help to individuals who they condemn their "lifestyle" based on their own interpretation of their religious texts.  The new policy requires:

  1. Equal access by all HUD funded programs or mortgages secured by the Federal Housing Administration.  These programs must be made available to households without regard to actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status.
  2. Family or household include persons regardless of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status. 
  3. There is a prohibition on owners or operators of HUD funded programs or housing insured by FHA from asking about an applicants or occupants sexual orientation or gender identity for the purpose of determining eligibility or otherwise making housing available. 
  4. Prohibition on FHA lender from taking into account actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity in determining the adequacy of a potential borrowers income.

The issue will come about when people experience discrimination, but have no where to go to complain.  The household must complain to the local HUD office or HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at 800-669-9777.  Locally, NEOCH or the Housing Center at 28th and Euclid can help.  For many finding a way to complain will be a big hurdle.  We thank Kris for bringing this issue to the broader community.  This is a social justice issue to protect access to publicly funded facilities no matter your race, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation. 

Brian Davis

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Sewer District to Present at CAHA

We have all seen the fee added to our Sewer District bills to improve the storm sewer overflow system in Northeast Ohio, but how will these new fees impact the preservation and development of affordable housing in Cleveland?   At the August 5, 2013, Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance meeting we will have staff from the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District present to talk about the fees and what commercial entities can do to reduce costs.  Businesses are being assessed for every square foot of concrete and the water that comes off buildings going into the sewer.   There are ways to reduce the fee, but the question is will this stifle the development of housing?   We will have time for questions and concerns at this forum. 

In addition to Sewer District staff, we will have Kris Keniray, Fair Housing Investigator of the Housing Research and Advocacy Center talk about the State of Fair Housing in the region.  The Housing Center keeps track of fair housing violations, investigates complaints and issues an annual report. 

It should be a good meeting, and all are welcome to attend. The meeting is in the lower level of the HUD headquarters in Cleveland at 1350 Euclid Ave. at 1:30 p.m.

Brian Davis

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Councilman to Attend Next CAHA meeting

Councilman Tony Brancatelli, the Chair of the Community and Economic Development Committee, will attend the next Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance meeting to present to the group.  CAHA is at the lower level of the HUD offices at 1350 Euclid Ave. in the US Bank building on July 8 at 1:30 p.m.   He will talk about the City of Cleveland's efforts to clean up after the foreclosure crisis.  He will talk about the City Budget for community development in light of federal austerity and budget cuts from Sequestration.  Finally, he is expected to answer questions regarding the development of affordable housing in Cleveland.  The public are invited to attend the CAHA meeting to hear more about housing locally. 

The Veterans Affairs staff will also give an update on the housing vouchers reserved for veterans locally.  CAHA is a monthly meeting to discuss affordable housing locally since 1999, and we work to preserve and expand affordable housing locally. 

Brian Davis

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Bill Faith Featured at the May CAHA Meeting


Phil Star and Bill Faith at CAHA 2007The next Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance meeting is May 6, 2013 at HUD (1350 Euclid Ave) in the US Bank Building lower level at 1:30 p.m.  We will have the Executive Director of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, Bill Faith who will give an overview of the state budget process, talk about some national policy issues, and the protection of the state housing trust fund. Bill is the leading advocate down in Columbus for the past 20 years on housing and homelessness.  He keeps his fingers on the pulse of the Ohio legislature and can tell us how bad things will be for housing developers and homeless service providers over the next two years.  Bill will be our only guest at this meeting so there should be plenty of time for discussion and questions.  We hope that you can attend. 

Brian Davis

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Upcoming Affordable Housing Meetings

Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance Meeting features a focus on Public Housing and Vouchers for the March 4, 2013 meeting.  Then in April two County offices look at Homelessness and Housing Development activities and finally Bill Faith from COHHIO will present at the May meeting.  All are welcome to attend to learn more about affordable housing locally.

CAHA is always the first Monday of the month unless there is a federal holiday.  It is hosted by HUD at 1350 Euclid Ave.

Brian Davis

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Kathy Kazol at CAHA

Kathy Kazol in December 2012 received the Medical Mutual Pillar Award for her lifetime of work in developing housing for fragile populationsWe 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.

Brian Davis

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Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance Meeting

The next meeting of the Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance will take place January 7, 2013 at 1:30 p.m. at the local HUD offices.  The meeting is in the US Bank building at 1350 Euclid Ave. in the lower level.  This next meeting will be a graduate level symposium on affordable housing taught by one of the local deans of building and managing property. 

Kathy Kazol retiring director of EDEN Inc. will discuss lessons learned in the development of affordable housing.  EDEN began as a small group working to house those with a mental illness, but has grown to oversee the Shelter Plus Care program, manage the Permanent Supportive Housing projects and even owning the buildings containing homeless shelters.  She will give an overview of the growth of her organization and her hopes for the next few years.  Kazol will talk about how these deals are put together to preserve and expand affordable housing locally.  She will give an overview of her recommendations for policy changes that we could advocate in order to improve the condition for expanding affordable housing. 

Brian Davis

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