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.

Jim Schlecht Biography

This is the summary that appeared in the program that Ms. Valentine put together for the celebration last week. The biography was written by Randy Cunningham, a long time environmental and housing advocate in Cleveland especially the NEAR WEST SIDE of Cleveland. We have to thank Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman for his certificate of recognition and for Congressman Dennis Kucinich who honored Jim with a recognition on the floor of the US House of Representatives.  Check out our photo display from the award's ceremony.

This is an appreciation of Jim Schlecht, who for over thirty years has demonstrated exemplary service to the least of our community's citizens, who does not just talk about justice and compassion, but lives it day to day on the streets of Cleveland.  All Clevelanders can learn from his life of service and all our lives made better by his work. 

Jim Schlecht was born and raised in Euclid, Ohio.  His father Jim, an IRS agent and his mother Jane were great role models for Jim. During his college years at Cleveland State University, Jim joined other progressive Catholics and settled in Cleveland’s Near West Side neighborhood in the early 1970s.  There he joined a community of other Catholic activists whose roots extended back to the Catholic Worker experience in the 1930s. and the Thomas Merton Community of the 1960s.

Jim was part of a community that proudly called what has become Ohio City, the Near West Side.  Or as a poster of the era said “This is a neighborhood. Cleveland is an Ohio city.” The community founded health clinics, schools, book stores, community organizations like Near West Neighbors in Action, and social service agencies.  Jim thrived in this stew of idealism and imagination. Jim and his wife Patty raised three children on the Near West Side, Anne, Laura and Daniel Schlecht.  During his long career of service to the community, Jim has worked at the Rose Mary Center, the West Side Community House, the West Side Catholic Center, and is currently with Care Alliance (the local health care for the homeless).  

I met Jim while working for a housing group located in the headquarters of this community – the old West Side Community House on Bridge Ave.  Jim ran the senior citizens’ meals program, and out of his small, crowded and chaotic office learned all that one could ever hope to learn about putting people and their needs in touch with the resources to help them.  If Jim doesn’t know about a resource, or how to find out about a resource, it probably doesn’t exist. 

Above all else Jim has made serving the least of us, the homeless, his life’s work.  If you ever get a chance, take the opportunity to go with Jim on his daily rounds to the homeless shelters, the social service agencies, or the homeless camps that are tucked away un-noticed by most Clevelanders.  The homeless know Jim, and Jim knows them by name and biography.  They are not numbers or clients to Jim.  They are people no better or worse in his view than he is. 

While other people talk the talk, Jim walks the walk.  Early in this life on the Near West Side, he joined the anti-war movement and was arrested on the grounds of the White House in the company of such iconic figures as the Berrigan brothers.  He has not mellowed with age, and just hearing his name can cause the sponsors of the Cleveland Air Show to break out in hives.  He has been arrested there, protesting war and advocatng peace. 

This brief bio of Jim pales before the task of doing justice to a person who I proudly call my brother.  I am not alone in that, and I know that when he calls me his brother he means it. 


Brian Davis

Posts reflects the opinions of those who sign the entry.