Articles in the News Around Homelessness

WEWS-TV 5 had a nice story on family homelessness and the overflow problems in Cleveland. We have had seven months of overflow shelter for families.  What month do we say this is no longer an overflow problem, but a lack of family bed problem.  We closed Continue Life earlier this year, and West Side Catholic reduced the number of transitional beds for family.  This is what happens when you cut back on beds available to families, you have to pay to transport and open up church basements for these emergencies.

The New York Times had a strange story about the feeding program.  I understand presenting a balanced story, but this is just strange.  The proponents of the law do not have any evidence or proof that feeding programs are "counterproductive."  It is one side saying that laws against feeding are morally bankrupt and lead to unnecessarily going to jail for purely innocent behavior while the other side is saying, "but we don't like to see poor people lining up to eat."

A positive story from Vox media about the decline in uninsured individuals in the Lesbian and Gay community.  Health insurance will also reduce homelessness in America when people aren't forced to decide between rent or medicine or food.  

The National Center on Family Homelessness has found that one in 30 children are homeless in America.  Since Ohio was right in the middle for the states around the national average, this would mean that 9,137 children were homeless in Cuyahoga County in 2013 and 88,323 were homeless in Ohio during the same time.   NCFH uses the Department of Education definition of homelessness which includes those sleeping in garages and friend's basements while they search for housing.  

Brian Davis

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Medicaid Bus Trip to Columbus on Tuesday

Despite advocates, health care professionals, business leaders, and social service providers agreeing that Ohio needs an expansion of Medicaid, the Ohio legislature failed to include the expansion in the 2013-2015 budget.  This will mean that at this point 275,000 additional Ohioans will not be able to take advantage of Obamacare in 2014.  On Tuesday July 9th at 1 p.m. advocates will gather at the State Capital Atrium in Columbus to urge the Governor to push Medicaid expansion through the legislature.

Vans will leave from Cleveland on Tuesday morning from the NOBLE and Organize!Ohio offices at 3500 Lorain Ave. on the near west side of Cleveland.  Call 216-651-2606 to reserve your seat and attend this demonstration in Columbus.   Advocates from around the State will attend to urge Ohio leaders to cover the uninsured and provide health care to Ohioans who cannot find health insurance. 

Brian Davis

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Two Americas: Those who have access to health care and those who don't

This is a really nice graphic from the Advisory Board Company which provide 
consulting, technology and research to health care organizations.
It shows a clear divide within the United States.

Where the States Stand
Via: The Advisory Board Company

For homeless people this graph shows some really bad news.  Those living in Texas or Pennsylvania or North Carolina are out of luck.  Those in Ohio, Illinois, California or Arizona will have safety net insurance to avoid years of debt for one encounter with the local emergency room.  These blue colored states from above graph may be able to expand mental health care and alcohol treatment centers with the cost savings from not having to provide emergency room care to those without insurance.  Hospitals in the blue states from the graph will have a reason to expand preventative care and to not discharge sick people to the shelters.  Because you happen to live in one of the Red States above you will not have the ability to access affordable health insurance. 

Studies in the past have never found that people moved to a state because the government benefits were better.  I have to believe that this will change with the Affordable Care Act disparity that is developing.  Health care is such a big contributor to homelessness and destablizing a family that I have to believe that people will move to a state that has expanded Medicaid.  Many states are going to be left behind with the decision to not accept expanded Medicaid.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Medicaid Expansion in Ohio

Congratulations to Ohio Governor John Kasich for accepting  the millions in federal dollars that come with the expansion of Medicaid in 2014.  The homeless of Ohio appreciate that they will have an easier time receiving life sustaining health care.  The savings that our local hospitals save with federal reimbursements can go to expand mental health care and dental assistance.  Right now almost 90% of the homeless population are not eligible for health care insurance.   In the near future, all the programs in Cleveland that serve the lowest income will be able to move some of their clients onto Medicaid.  This will allow them to use local funds to expand safety net services such as Alcohol and Drug treatment, eyecare, dental care, or mental health services depending on priorities. 

This expansion in Ohio will lead to a healthier state and a work force that is ready to work.  It will improve the environment for job creation to be prepared to compete with other states.  It will not put as at a disadvantage compared to states that already cover the majority of their population such as Massachusetts and the dozens of states which will also expand coverage in the next few years.  This coupled with the focus on preventative healthcare in the law will reduce the chances that lower income people will be bankrupted by healthcare expenses that spirals out of control and often leads families to the shelters.  The local Alcohol and Mental Health Board estimates that 80,000 residents of Cuyahoga County will find insurance because of this expansion and 600,000 Ohioans. 

We will continue to monitor and keep people updated on the impact of these decisions on the local level. 

Brian Davis

Opinions reflect the individuals who sign the entry.

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

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the post.