Enterprise Gives Summary of Housing Bill

This is from Enterprise Community Development.  This is what we expected to happen.  We said that the administration would send a really low budget for the next fiscal year and then advocates would be happy that it was not cut as much as the administration proposed. We had previously expressed indifference to the necessity of the InterAgency Council on Homelessness.

"Last night the House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee held a mark-up for its fiscal year (FY) 2018  spending bill. The legislation provides $38.3 billion in funding for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is $487 million below this year’s level and $6.9 billion above the president’s budget request. The cuts to housing and community development programs, though significant, are smaller than expected, indicating that appropriators understand how important these investments are to our communities.

The House bill includes:

  • $2.9 billion for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program and $850 million for the HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) Program, representing $100 million in cuts for both.
  • $20.487 billion in Tenant-Based Rental Assistance, an increase of $355 million over FY17 levels, of which $18.71 billion would go to renewing existing contracts. However, as the cost of operating the program increases each year due to inflation, this level of funding would result in a 6 percent, or 140,000 unit, renewal funding shortfall despite the increase.
  • $11.082 billion in Project-Based Rental Assistance, an increase of $266 million over FY17 levels.
  • Flat funding for the Public Housing Operating Fund at $4.4 billion.
  • $1.85 billion for the Public Housing Capital Fund, down from $1.94 billion in FY17.
  • $573 million for Section 202 Housing for the Elderly, a $71 million increase over FY17 enacted levels.
  • $147 million for Section 811 Housing for Persons with Disabilities, $1 million over FY17 enacted levels.
  • Level funding for Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS, at $356 million.
  • Level funding for the Native American Housing Block Grant Program, at $654 million.
  • $20 million for Choice Neighborhoods, significantly downsizing the initiative, which would be reduced from its current spending level of $138 million.
  • $2.4 billion for Homelessness Assistance Grants, level with FY17 enacted levels.
  • $30 million for the Section 4 Capacity Building for Affordable Housing and Community Development Program (Section 4), a $5 million cut from FY17 enacted levels.
  • Flat funding for the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation (NeighborWorks), at $140 million.

Also of note, the legislation does not include any of the policy proposals included in the president’s budget request, such as mandatory rent minimums and rent increases for public housing residents. House appropriators also rejected the proposal to eliminate the Housing Trust Fund, which is not funded with appropriated dollars. However, the House followed the president’s guidance in proposing closure for the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), without proposing any new mechanism for coordinating the programs aimed combating homelessness across 19 federal agencies.

The House has been marking up FY18 appropriations bills to a topline level for non-Defense discretionary (NDD) spending at $511 billion, which is $4 billion below the FY18 sequestration caps and $8 billion below the FY17 spending caps. The Senate THUD bill is expected before August Recess and may use higher spending caps, although the timing is unclear after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s announcement that the Senate will remain in session through August 11, two weeks later than planned.

The fact that cuts to most of these programs were not as drastic as anticipated is a testament to the hard work of affordable housing champions across the country, who contacted their legislators to voice their support of these indispensable programs. HOME and CDBG, for example, are flexible sources of funding that target low-income communities and individuals and are proven job creators. When they were zeroed out in the president’s budget, organizations, businesses, and local governments spoke up for vital role they play in communities."

From the Enterprise Community Partners.

Do We Waste the CDBG Funds?

"The CDBGs have been identified as programs since I believe the first — actually, the second Bush administration as ones that were just not showing any results. We can’t do that anymore. We can’t spend money on programs just because they sound good...We cannot defend that anymore. We’re $20 trillion in debt. We’re going to spend money, we’re going to spend a lot of money, but we’re not going to spend it on programs that cannot show that they actually deliver the promises that we’ve made to people.”

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney

The Community Development Block Grant program under the Trump budget would be eliminated.  This program funds public safety, preserving housing, social services, and improving the streets and sewer projects.  The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless benefits from this program so we are not really impartial in this matter.  Can we show results in our $33,000 that we get from the City of Cleveland through the CDBG program? We did make promises to taxpayers with these funds.  These promises include that we would train workers, coordinate services, meet to prevent large buildings from going into foreclosure, and to organize meetings between homeless people and elected officials.  I don't think that we over promised and we can show results.

Our grant pays for:

  1. Outreach collaboration so that all the groups going out and interacting with homeless people are fully trained; are working together; and are helping those who sleep outside are having contact with professional staff.  Bottom line is that if a police officer, City Councilmember, or taxpayer can call our office worried about a homeless guy sleeping on the sidewalk freezing to death.  We would then figure out which outreach worker is on the streets and send that staff out to help. The savings to Cleveland taxpayers is hard to measure, but it is certainly better and more cost effective then sending out an Emergency Medical Service Worker or a Police Officer out to give a homeless guy a blanket.  It is much more likely that if that outreach worker was not present the homeless guy would be taken to the emergency room or to jail by far the least expensive option for our community. 
  2. Monthly meetings between government and advocates to distribute information about any further loss in affordable housing.  If there is a threat to one unit of affordable housing, the advocates can respond and protect against infrastructure decline.  We have not had a loss of a building in five years.  Our government staff who work on housing at Building and Housing, Department of Housing and Urban Development, CMHA, and County Department of Development have to come before their representatives and explain the decisions that they are undertaking.  They have to explain why we are still poisoning young people living in lead filled apartments or prioritizing home ownership over support for rental housing.  Again, hard to prove effectiveness, but seems like a worthwhile undertaking in our community.
  3. Monthly meetings between people who live in a shelter with their elected officials and the bureaucrats who are spending tax dollars.  They have a chance to talk about changes in programs, priority issues and difficulties with government programs.  This is another program that is hard to prove any success and so probably not worth government funding.
  4. We also used the funds to distribute 10,000 Street Cards, registered 200 people to vote, and work to reduce the number of homeless deaths.  The homeless deaths increased in 2016, so I guess we failed on this one. 

Those are the four areas in which we spend the CDBG funding.  We never promised to end homelessness or solve the issues associated with panhandling mostly because there is not enough  funding available.  The City also has a large number of rules that they have to follow in order to receive these funds from the federal government.  They have to submit a plan and they have to limit social service to around 20% of the funds.  They have to limit the funding toward administration and focus on solving problems in the community.  While $3 billion sounds like a lot of money, it is spread around to 120 major cities and even smaller suburbs get some CDBG dollars.  I believe that there are five "entitlement cities" who receive a small piece of the CDBG funding from the Federal government in Cuyahoga County alone.  

These funds have seen budget cuts over the last five years.  This might be the case that they have cut the CDBG budget so much that it has only a tiny impact nationally.  It was the same problem General Assistance folks faced in the 1990s in Ohio.  The monthly subsidy was cut so much that eventually conservative elected officials could say, "No one could live on $80 a month so what is the point? We should eliminate monthly assistance to single adults."    This maybe the same fate of the CDBG program.  Was it cut so much over the last seven years that the impact has dissipated to have no real impact? 

We believe that our funding can show results and actually saves taxpayers money.  Our small allocation saves lives and keep people out of jail.  Our funding better educates advocates, social service providers, and even those who live outside to move to stability.  We find the CDBG program to be invaluable to homeless people in Cleveland.

by Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Trump Budget Would Harm Homeless People

President Trump and the Office of Management and Budget released a 2018 proposed budget that would take effect in October of 2017.  I got this information from the National Low Income Housing Coalition who's president Diane Yentel said, "At a time when America’s housing crisis has reached historic heights and the lowest income people suffer the most severe impacts, proposals to further cut these vital resources are unconscionable and unacceptable."  I also looked at the Washington Post summary of the other agencies budget and the HUD website had the press release on their proposed budget here. A couple of caveats before we start talking about the budget.

  1. The Congress has to pass a budget and the President's budget is typically torn apart by the members of Congress.  Typically, the budgets are the best that a President can hope for and agencies usually face a cut unless they are priority for a powerful Congressional member.
  2. It is difficult to compare this budget to the 2017 budget since there is no 2017 budget.  Congress passed a Continuing Resolution until April 2017 and then who knows. So most of these comparisons are with the 2016 budget. 
  3. This budget annoys rural communities, urban communities, fiscal hawks and progressives, so it may be dead on arrival and all of this could lead to nothing.
  4. The programs that touch homeless people are spread across many departments.

There are a few items that will help homeless people in America and Cleveland, but overall those who advocate for homeless people or who are employed to help homeless people we are in big trouble.

A few positive notes:

  1. The overall budget for homeless people looks like it could go up by around $600 million, but those dollars are earmarked for "family homelessness and chronic (long term) homeless people."  They are proposing 25,500 new permanent supportive housing units which is probably 750 units in Ohio.  The funds for homeless veterans would remain in place at the same level.  It seems like those warm, glowing letters complimenting the new HUD Secretary from the Corporation for Supportive Housing and Enterprise worked to preserve their funding.  We will see how long that lasts. 
  2. It looks like there is a new project proposed around $25 million for homeless youth.  This would be extremely competitive, but Cleveland would be in a great position to get one of these grants.
  3. The HUD press release says they would provide "$38 billion in rental housing assistance to support 4.5 million low income families."  This seems to be about the same funding as was in the 2016 budget, but remember that is about 89% of the funds that these programs need to operate.  So, with the huge cuts proposed everywhere else we might want to be happy that it was not worse. It will not decrease the 21,000 people on the public housing waiting list or the 8,000 on the voucher wait list or the fact that most have to wait five years to get into subsidized housing in Cleveland.
  4. The Department of Veterans Affairs gets a 6% increase.  This would most likely go to communities with long waits and unmet needs such as more help with mental health services. Cleveland could get some help, but our VA is pretty stable.
  5. The Food Stamps program is not cut which does serve around 20% of the homeless population. At least in 2018, there is no proposed cut to Medicare and Medicaid.  Those programs are not mentioned in the budget overview which worries some advocates.  The funds for the opioid crisis are increased, which would help Ohio which is in the top five states for deaths associated with the opioid overdoses.

That is all the good news that I could find in the budget. Remember, it still has to be passed by Congress so this is just a suggestion from the administration.

The "don't read this if you just ate" news

  1. The overall HUD budget is proposed to be a $6.2 billion reduction which could have an impact across all categories, but smaller projects that are not mentioned in the HUD press release could be endangered like the fair housing enforcement and foreclosure prevention funds.  The lead hazard project does get an increase, but right now that is only $110 million for the entire United States.
  2. The budget proposes an elimination of Community Development Block Grant which helps cities deal with poverty.  In Cleveland, these funds assist NEOCH with outreach to those who live outside.  It also supports the Domestic Violence Center, Rape Crisis Center, Famicos affordable housing properties, University Settlement and the Salvation Army.  This is a $3.066 billion in funding lost to cities, and would be devastating.

  3. This budget eliminates the HOME program which helps make affordable housing projects work and can help lower the rent for some apartments in suburbs.  This could make senior housing projects not go forward or projects that keep people from being evicted.  This is $900 million lost to states and counties across America.

  4. The Low Income Home Energy Heating Assistance Program is eliminated which could lead to an increase in homelessness.  If you can't keep the heat on then the apartment is not fit for human habitation and the landlord will evict or the City will condemn the unit.
  5. It eliminates the Legal Services Corporation which funds local Legal Aid Society.  The program faced cuts a couple of years back and this would be a horrible blow to this valuable program for low income people who need a lawyer.  It would hurt people trying to avoid an eviction or trying to get their benefits restored.  It would hurt people trying to get a divorce from an abuser and those who are trying to get help against an employer who is withholding a last pay check.
  6. It eliminates the AmeriCorps, VISTA, and other National Service members which is the domestic peace corps.  These are individuals who supplement many poverty programs with staff that they could not afford without the Corporation for National Service funds.  AmeriCorps work at places like 2100 Lakeside shelter, soup kitchens or Habitat for Humanity and provides staff who can focus on projects that improve the anti poverty programs or can create new programs that staff do not have time to undertake.
  7. The US InterAgency Council on Homelessness is eliminated.  I have met with the staff in Washington many times (really nice people), but I am not sure if the average homeless person will know the difference if these guys are eliminated.  They coordinate services among all the cabinet heads, but I am not sure I can think of one thing that came out of this department.  They issue reports, highlight good programs, and make recommendations on state and local policies.  They never wanted to expand the definition of homelessness and have often been a road block on sweeping changes needed to actually start reducing poverty. 
  8. The Department of Labor would eliminate the Senior Employment Program, which helps seniors find jobs after they are laid off later in life.  NEOCH has 4 of these individuals working on various programs, and many other non-profits supplement staff with these older workers to answer phones, help with voting activities, or staff programs on a part time basis.  They can often put a human face on social services, and the program was originally championed by Senator Ted Kennedy.
  9. There would be a reduction in Job Corps programs which is the residential job training program for troubled young people.  The Cleveland Job Corps has faced administrative questions in the past and would be at the top of the list for downsizing.
  10. There is a proposed 18% cut in the Department of Health and Human Services, but very little details in the budget.  There is no mention of welfare assistance or the Medicaid and Medicare budget.  There is also no mention of the mental health assistance.  So, it is unclear how the cuts would impact homeless people.  The Community Services Block Grant program would also be eliminated from the HHS budget, but I am not sure how those dollars are used in Cleveland or Ohio.  It seems that an 18% cut in such a huge agency would have a negative impact on homeless people. 

Overall, if you are worried about the borders, airport security or more planes, ships, and tanks for the military then you are extremely happy.  If you are homeless, near homeless or barely hanging on, you are in big trouble.  You better hope that the states and counties can fill the huge holes that will be opened in the social safety net if this budget passes.  Local charities will not be answering the phones, they will not be able to refer people in need to other programs, and they will be focusing a lot of time on how to stay in business instead of how to alleviate suffering.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Outlook for Homeless People in 2018 in a Carson/Trump Administration

Draining the Swamp 2018-19 Issues Facing Homeless People

For homeless people, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is the most important agency and the decisions made in Washington have a huge impact on the lives of people without housing, those waiting for housing, and those who cannot afford the market rate for rent because they do not make enough money. The head of HUD is often more important to homeless people then who is the President of the United States. Cleveland receives $30 million from the federal government specifically for working to end homelessness.  We gave our outlook for 2017 here.  It was our estimate that homeless families are going to have a tough time, but 2018 is going to rough for every homeless person. 

Outlook for HUD funded programs

  • We will most likely have to increase the family homeless situation to 50 additional beds by 2018 on top of the 75 from 2017.  We could see some small relief with an expansion of the Pay for Success program to more families, but that will not decrease the need for more shelter beds.  
  • Many of the resources for single adults will have dried up and more and more people will be asking for shelter. It is unlikely that Cleveland will be able to continue to guarantee access to shelter for those who request it, because we have closed so many beds over the last 10 years.  We will have to figure out a strategy for what populations get a bed every night and which population is sent out to make it on their own. We hope that Metanoia will find a space so that those who cannot get a bed will have an overflow space year round. Metanoia will need to be prepared to serve 250 people per night including around 40 single women.
  • We will most likely see another 2 to 8% cut to our homeless funding. This will mean another program will have to close in early 2019. At this point, the Permanent Supportive Housing programs or the rental assistance programs will be the last programs left standing to be cut. So, either we will have to evict people or eliminate supportive services to these extremely fragile people.
  • There will be more of a push to privatize Public Housing so another reduction in the number of units available. Housing Choice Voucher will most likely be spared having already been cut to the bone.  A privatization makes it harder to apply and harder to enforce common rules for providing quality housing to the population. HUD oversight staffing were already significantly reduced and that will continue.  Media will have more and more stories about horrible subsidized housing conditions and tax payers will demand cuts. “We should not have our tax dollars going to these horrible conditions,” even though it our own fault for cutting the HUD oversight staff.  
  • The tax credit program for the development of housing will probably continue to expand, because the new administration seems to favor programs that result in tax cuts. Again, this is not a program to serve those living below poverty in Cleveland.
  • In Cleveland, this will most likely mean a decline of 200 units in affordable housing because of a nationwide cut to HUD funded housing programs. Cleveland officials have done a good job maintaining the inventory while other cities have seen huge loses. We will not see the loses that will be seen in other cities, but local leadership will not be able to prevent all losses. 
  • No fair housing enforcement activities over because there will be an internal fight over who is in charge of these investigations. 
  • Those who have stayed in Permanent Supportive Housing or other subsidy programs for five or seven years will be told that they need to find other housing options.  Some of these individuals will show back up at the shelters asking for help. 

Other Issues for 2018-19 for Homeless People.

  • A further rise in hate crimes against homeless people on a national level.  Whenever there are more homeless people and government is passing laws harmful to homeless people or massive budget cuts, hate crimes against this vulnerable population rises. We will need a strong local Coalition to oppose these hate crimes, and it is unlikely that advocacy and public policy groups will be able to find funding when there will be so much human service needs overshadowing good government groups.
  • Medicaid expansion will begin to be decreased in 2018 with only the poorest of the poor able to access the public insurance. The state will also be requiring a small co-pay for Medicaid.  This will slowly deteriorate the number receiving coverage. This will force clinics like Care Alliance to begin to take on more of the indigent care out of local funding. This will decrease the health of the population and decrease access to mental health or drug addiction treatment.
  • Another rise in assistance for the opioid crisis with more funding for treatment and even an increase in detox when more suburban young people are dying from the addiction, but there will not be the ability to get Medicaid reimbursement for some of these supportive services as was the original plan for Permanent Supportive Housing. This will mean that fewer people will have access to these units.
  • Mental health funding may even see a boost in 2018 because of a State election and regular encounters between law enforcement and those with a mental illness living outside, but we will still have to deal with the reduction in Medicaid reimbursements.
  • Funding for private hunger programs will continue to increase, because Cleveland has always been generous in the face of hungry children. We will probably see a sharp drop in those eligible for food stamps. We will need to increase the number of hot meal programs at religious organizations and the pantry programs. We will need to expand the school lunch program to also offer dinners or backpacks of food for the evening for those living in poverty.
  • There will be many more people showing up at the shelters with deep intractable debt issues making employment and housing stability extremely difficult.
  • Cash assistance will become a non-factor in the struggle to reduce poverty. Very few are eligible anymore because of lifetime limits and the small grants.
  • Disability programs will be cut and turned into jobs programs to try to find employment for people who are currently on disability or who apply for assistance. Bureaucracies have a hard time pivoting to new ideas. This will take a long time to catch on and many families will fall through the cracks.
  • Cleveland shelters will be under threat of defunding because they are unwilling to provide data to ICE workers.
  • More homeless families with health issues will be asking for help in our community.
  • Coordinated Intake will be in place to decide who gets a shelter bed and who gets sent to gymnasiums that are opened up every evening at closed down schools.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

What is Ahead for Homeless in the Carson/Trump Administration?

These are my thoughts on what we can expect in Cleveland over the next few years based on my 24 years of experience. I have lobbied in Washington and Columbus for decades and some of these “new ideas or better ways of doing business” have come up before.  We have not had all branches of government under one party in both Ohio and with our federal government in decades. So if this is ever going to be implemented it has to happen now. There has never been a better chance to cut funding in human services and put in practice some of the conservative ideas that have been discussed for decades.  I also read documents by the Washington Post and others detailing every campaign promise made by Donald Trump over the last year and a half. Overall in 2017 in Cleveland we will most likely continue to struggle with increases in family homelessness, but we should see a reduction in the number of single adults facing homelessness.  Here are my observations.

  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development is the key government agency providing funds to local community for affordable housing, homeless shelters, and the major funding for services to homeless people. The Trump Administration has appointed Dr. Ben Carson to lead the Department. He has no government experience and spoke in opposition to the fair housing goals of the agency. HUD enforces the Civil Rights era Fair Housing laws to break down barriers for minority, religious minority, gender and those with children facing discrimination. Here are some possible changes in the upcoming year:
  • The last publicly funded homeless transitional program in Cleveland will be defunded when the Salvation Army PASS program is converted from beds to rental assistance.  Cleveland saw the defunding of 328 beds during the Obama Administration. This will only make it harder for single men to get out of 2100 Lakeside into housing. There will be new funding for single adults to get rental assistance which will ease some of the burden. Homelessness among single adults will most likely decline in 2017.
  • We need 50 new shelter spaces for families immediately and 75 by the end of the year as we continue to struggle in 2017 to find shelter beds. Cleveland is compassionate and usually steps up to serve families better. I believe that religious and business leaders will step forward to fund additional shelter space. This could present a conflict with the County over intake rules and counting these homeless people.
  • We will most likely see another 2 to 8% cut to our homeless funding.  This will mean another program will have to close in early 2018. This is especially likely since we keep reading how the HUD report shows we have decreased homelessness in Ohio based on flawed statistics, but the impact will not be until 2018.
  • It is likely that both Public Housing and the Housing Choice Voucher program will see a decline in their budget.  They are currently operating at a little under 90% of the funds they need.  This means fewer dollars for maintenance, a longer time to get units back on line and fewer staff to process paperwork.  Bottom line is that the 21,000 people waiting for Public Housing and the 8,000 on the voucher waiting list will wait longer than the three to five years to get a place. There will also be a debate about transferring public housing properties to become privately funded and administered by private sector developers.  This will not have an impact in 2017, but in the future.
  • The tax credit program for the development of housing will probably expand. These programs bring down rents, but they do not make them affordable for low income residents.
  • HUD subsidized housing is going to be difficult to cut. These are all private landlords but everyone who moves in is subsidized like the voucher program. They have tried everything to reduce costs over the last 20 years, but nothing much has worked. I am going to guess that they will try to cut off lower performing housing which would mean there would not be a change until 2018.
  • There will be an attempt to defund fair housing while they “study” better ways to handle discrimination and disputes between owners and those seeking housing. I can see a moratorium on these programs while they investigate the issue. 
  • It is likely that there will be a debate about time limits for those living in subsidized housing, but those would not have an impact for a couple of years. The debate would open many divisions within the community and would be similar to the “welfare reform” debate.

Other Changes

  • We will see a rise in hate crimes against homeless people. Whenever there are more homeless people and government is harmful to homeless people with cuts, hate crimes against this vulnerable population rises. We will probably get help from the local law enforcement, but no relief by the US Department of Justice who will unlikely have anything to do with civil rights, fair housing, hate crimes or discrimination claims.
  • Medicaid expansion is unlikely to change in 2017, but has been so helpful to improving the lives of homeless people. 
  • We actually will most likely have more funding for addiction services/treatment either through the State of Ohio or through the federal government or both because of the opiod crisis. 
  • Mental health funding looks stable and will face no changes. 
  • Funding for private hunger programs will mostly likely be stable or may even increase.  There will be some changes to food stamps debated in 2017, but not to be implemented until 2018.
  • Welfare (cash assistance) will be further reduced to only those engaged in a work program, but this has such a small reach anymore in the community it really has no impact on homeless people.
  • The new administration will try to limit Social Security Disability and the Worker’s compensation program for injured workers.  Both programs will face greater scrutiny and longer waits.  Many homeless people are eligible for disability, but give up because the process takes so long and the rules for being on the program are so restrictive.
  • Privacy in the shelters will begin to be an issue with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement asking for data on non-citizens using publicly funded shelters.  The local community will have to take a stand if this is going to be an issue.
  • Cleveland should be able to significantly reduce veteran’s homelessness in 2017. There will still be homeless veterans but they all should be on a path to stable housing.
  • The number of young people who graduate foster care into homelessness should be dramatically reduced in 2017.

by Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Transitional Shelters Will Disappear--82 Beds Lost

The Cuyahoga County Office of Homeless Services Advisory Board voted this week to eliminate funding for a number of transitional housing shelters in Cleveland.  Only three individuals (including the two NEOCH appointed representatives) voted against this plan.  It is another march toward elimination of the transitional shelters in America and a huge loss for Cuyahoga County. 

The feds created this situation by authorizing only 85% of the funding need to renew all the shelter and homeless housing programs in the community.  The 15% would have to compete against all the other programs in the so-called "Tier 2."  This second tier programs will only get 1 point for supportive services such as outreach, education or alcohol services.  Transitional shelters get 3 points while housing programs or rental assistance get 10 points in this second tier.  Communities will be forced to prioritize housing programs or risk losing in the competition and thus losing that 15%.  Cuyahoga County officials have decided to use all the below funding for rental assistance.  In 2016, youth and singles will be eligible for rental assistance while today only seniors and families are eligible. 

The above chart shows the programs that will be eliminated. Keep in mind that one year of rental assistance is worth about $6,000 per person.  The reason that the feds and the County staff do not like transitional programs because they are too expensive when compared to the success rate and there are too many people who fail out of the program.  You can see those two issues reflected above. 

What does this mean for Cleveland?  At this time the women and family system is a disaster with long waits for housing and the women's shelter extremely overcrowded.  Why are things so bad? In my opinion it is because we shut down all the transtional programs for women and families. We lost East Side Catholic, Family Transitional, THI, Continue Life, Triumph House and the County funded programs at Hitchcock and University Settlement.  Now the five women/family shelters are clogged beyond what should be discussed in County administration building. Note to Conwell check it out any night at 10 p.m.ar 1722 Payne Ave. 

Y-Haven will find additional assistance from the Medicaid System to preserve the program.  Joseph's Home and PASS are going to get additional funding from the County to preserve those beds.  The Transitional Shelter for males age 18 to 24 will lose public support and the Railton House Transitional Shelter will also lose the support.  This will mean that 82 transitional beds are on the short list to be lost in 2016.  Unless the Volunteers of America and Salvation Army can find additional funds to keep these facilities open, it will be a huge blow to the men's programs.  Transitional beds are beds that turnover.  Permanent beds do not.  It will cause the kind of backup that the women are experience at Norma Herr. If this plan is accepted by the feds, we will have more money for rental assistance.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

HUD Announces Funding for Cuyahoga County

The Department of Housing and Urban Development ahead of the Secretary of HUD appearing on the Daily Show, awarded to Cuyahoga County $25,342,376.00 in funding for homelessness and housing. 

a) Every shelter and service provider seeking renewals funding received the money they requested.  They get what they got to fund the shelter or service when they opened--no cost of living increase ever in the HUD world.

b) Renewals involving leasing/rent assistance received increases from the amount requested because of the recalculation of the rent amounts to align with Fair Market Rents in Greater Cleveland. This is true for all except one Shelter Plus Care program.  The County is going to ask for a correction on the one program.

c) All other renewals were approved for the amount requested.

d) The County wrapped a bunch of programs into two "reallocation requests" for funding from funds that were left once HUD funds all the renewals.  These projects may not have scored high enough locally, but changed their program to meet current expectations. The County rolled a bunch of programs together to submit two big requests for funding. This strategy was risky, but worked in putting them all together into two projects.  "All in" approach to funding requests.

 

The bad news was that the one new project submission for housing vouchers attached to the new Permanent Supportive Housing building on Detroit Ave was not approved.  We will see what impact this has on the funding for supportive housing locally.

$3.88 million of the funding goes to transitional shelters and supportive services or 15% of the funding.  The other 85% of the funds go to housing long term homeless or disabled homeless people in Cuyahoga County.

  • Cincinnati received $15.38 million.
  • Toledo received $4.88 million in support
  • Columbus only received $11.06 million which seems low to me.
  • Dayton received $8.37 million.
  • Akron received 4.47 million.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

News Briefs for the Week

Chef Arnold Abbott named Advocate of the Year by National Coalition for the Homeless.  He stood up to the bullies in Florida who were holding food hostage down in Ft. Lauderdale.  He is 90 years old and has been repeatedly ticketed for following his religious belief to give out food to homeless people.  He was ticketed on a regular basis after trying to distribute food to homeless people as he had done for over a decade.  Chef Abbott appeared on national news programs regularly to demonstrate the injustice of not being able to get food to its people.  He also challenged the law in court and was able to get a stay of the tickets until a judge makes a decison.

More Republican Governors are opting to expand Medicaid.  This is free money from the health care reform to get the lowest income residents to access affordable health care and it is 100% paid by the federal government.  It is purely political to not accept these funds.  We provide a chart of the amount of money being lost by the states refusing to accept Medicaid expansion

Number of homeless families increasing in the Bay area. As in the Cleveland and many other communities, there is a sharp rise in the number of homeless families.  We have focused our attention on the long term homeless, and families have suffered.  

NBC News covers large number of homeless families.  This is one of the typical stories during the holidays when we turn our attention to those struggling with housing.  It is especially accute this year when families are overwhelming the system or when we have so many kids sleeping in a church floor in the overflow shelters.

National Alliance to End Homelessness has a good summary of the results of the budget compromise on homelessness.   It is $271 million less than the President had requested.  This will keep funding level for the homeless programs and only the housing vouchers for veterans will increase.  It is an amazing change in Washington when advocates are championing that "at least the government will not shut down" as good news. 

Finally, some good news out of Washington with the funding of the National Housing Trust Fund.  The program was created in 2007, but the housing market collapsed and so no funding was ever delivered.  This fund should create and preserve affordable housing in the United States.  Ohio has a state Housing Trust, but Cuyahoga County does not have a local resource to build new housing

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Cognitive Dissidence At Alliance Conference

I did not attend the National Alliance to End Homelessness Conference, but could not help but be overwhelmed with Tweets from the Conference.  I have only attended one NAEH conference and did not find it very helpful because of the cognitive dissidence between the national group and what is happening in the field with real homeless people.  The government response to homelessness is championed as "progressive and based on science" while I find that they are responsive to a problem as it looked 20 years ago and then it takes another five years to pivot to respond to current issues.  Researchers with a business interest in steering cities toward their way of thinking gave us PowerPoint presentations on putting resources into their method of solving homelessness.   Then when I got home, I looked around and saw that the majority of homeless people who need help are not disabled, have not been homeless for a long period of time and just don't have enough money to afford rent.   Then the big social service providers are talking about chasing the dollars and outcomes and have lost sight of the humanity and reason that they were in existence.   The decisions made at these conferences seem to just transfer limited resources from one fragile population to another population declared the flavor of the month (youth or veterans or disabled, etc.).

Here are some examples of what I mean from the flow of tweets this week...

Secretary Castro pledges his commitment to HUD's work to end homelessness at the conference

Has a HUD Secretary ever said to a crowd, "I pledge that I will not be working to end homelessness?" or "Things are so bad in Washington that we will see an increase in homelessness over the next five years?"  Or "We hope that we can keep treading water and we hope that the number of people who die while sleeping on the streets will be kept to a minimum."

. at said investing in makes moral & fiscal sense. He's said this before.

That is a true statement, and no one can disagree that brand new beautiful apartments will not help a community.  What about the increase in family homelessnessss (who do not qualify for PSH) and what about the emergency services that are cut because we are slicing the pie even thinner?  80% of our money locally now goes to PSH, but we do not have 80% more money then we had five years ago. In fact, we have about 20% fewer dollars then we have five years ago. I find it interesting that Rich Trickel at the City Mission was talking about the huge numbers he is seeing while national advocates were proclaiming victories about lower veteran's homelessness and reducing long term homelessness.

66 women and children requested shelter yesterday - unfortunately there was no room. Overwhelmed by :

  Struggling to reconcile pronouncements of ending with the crushing numbers of families. ’taddup

We have these pronouncements (expressed in tweets) about requiring change in the system in order to solve homelessness:

: we must create systems change around now, or we could be back here in 10 years.

The promise of rapid re-housing to end must be linked to increasing family incomes to sustain housing over time.

We often increase homelessness by inviting people into the system when they really needed diversion from the system.

In Cleveland, we have 22 families sleeping in a church basement nearly every night because we do not have enough space in our shelters.  It does not seem that system change, rapid rehousing or diverting people has done much to change this dynamic locally.  We have dramatically changed the system with "coordinated intake" and yet we have the largest number of families in our community that I have ever seen.  We have rapid re-housing for families which does a great job in keeping the amount of time a person spends in shelter down, but it does nothing to reduce the numbers.  There are five people waiting for help for every person we can offer a bed to in our community.   And Cuyahoga County has set up a diversion program which "diverts" between 20 to 30% of the population.  This only puts off the inevitable.  We are not solving their issues, but delaying them asking for a bed. 

. Great partnering with you on Combating Criminalization of Homelessness at ! Resource to share:

I am glad this was mentioned at the conference because this is a huge issue in America where cities are hiding homeless people by making it illegal to be visible.  But just because there is a discussion does not mean we are doing anything about it.  When is the federal government going to get tough on these cities and say, "Look, we give you millions to solve homelessness.  If you don't stop passing laws and repeal all the laws you have passed directed at homeless people, we are going to convert all your homeless money into housing vouchers.  And another thing, stop having police arrest homeless people for disorderly conduct, because a city that does not provide housing is by definition a conduct that is disorderly.  It does not help to ticket or jail a guy sleeping outside, so stop it."

We CAN end youth homelessness by 2020.

Diversion is not a "NO" it's a "how can we help you from becoming homeless". Best for client, best for homeless system.

Ending Family Homelessness does not require more shelters. One of my Fav Slides from

Ending homelessness is not anti shelter if shelter is doing what it's supposed 2 be doing as a process not a destination

Nan Roman : We don't just believe we can end , we know we can end homelessness, & we know how to do it.

Excellent. Now prove it.  Stop the flow of homeless people coming from jails.  Stop pitting one population such as veterans against other populations such as the unemployed for limited dollars. Start counting youth who couch surf among the homeless population.  Start using the Dept. of Education definition of homelessness.  Stop using bogus counts as proof of anything except that we can get volunteers to do anything we ask.  Stop complicating our job at the local level with campaigns that do not in fact "end homelessness."  A goal of 100,000 homes was reached earlier this year and at least in Cleveland we still have the same number showing up at shelter and the similar numbers of abandoned and vacant housing. The reason: 560 new housing units of PSH do not shut down one shelter bed locally.  If you want to close down shelters build 5,600 housing units locally.  Everything else only replaces units that are taken off line because they have reached their natural lifespan.  How about ending homelessness for everyone in a timely manner not one group at a time?  This only makes other non-preferential groups homeless for longer and longer periods of time.   By the way, if we keep championing reductions of 2% or 4% in a year for one group, we lose sight of the real goal.  We will never get to the point of declaring victory by championing these small decreases in one population. 

: is the epitome of a dedicated & effective public servant. Her commitment to ending is absolute

Honoring for her amazing work at @usichomelessness. THANK YOU, BARB!

B. Poppe: the goal is a world in which family homelessness is a rare and brief occurrence and no family is w/out shelter

I like Barb Poppe and Nan and all the gang, but what is the big picture here?  Is the United States better off for homeless people than it was 40 years ago?   When I started 18 years ago there were 6,000 people in Cleveland experiencing homelessness and about 3,500 using the shelters.  Now there are 22,000 people and 9,000 people using the shelters every year.  NEOCH was created because of the rise in family homelessness, but no where near the numbers we are seeing over the last three years.  We have displaced so many people, incomes are stagnant and there are way fewer entry level jobs that can support a family then there were 30 years ago.  We have millions more people receiving a disability check, but they cannot afford the rent.  So, I am not sure it is time to pat anyone on the back for contributing much to homelessness. At this time, I see nothing going on to address family homelessness in America.  I see things getting worse for families with cuts to food stamps, unemployment compensation, and housing programs.  No one should be celebrating.

Bottom line most of our Veterans do not need Transitional Housing programs to succeed. "Housing First" just works better.

Very few families need Transitional Housing to solve their homelessness in SLC.

This is why social service types should not become involved in collecting statistics. These graphs do not show this conclusion.  The transitional programs are not sitting empty in our community.  They may not be serving our highest need population or they may take too long to help, but none of the data shows which program a veteran or family may need.  Here is the way to look at this issue.  Cuyahoga County has 1.35 million people and 230,000 living in poverty.  We have about 350 transitional beds in our community.  No one can say that there are not 350 people of the 230,000 living below the poverty level in our community who "need" two years of case management support to get back on their feet.  These sweeping generalizations that are based on nothing but opinion undermine confidence in these speakers.  It may be too expensive or too long to provide help, but there is a need for housing units in our community and we should have a diversity of beds. The vet sleeping near the Willard Park garage would have a different opinion about his need for a transitional shelter bed then most of the speakers at the NAEH conference.

Nan Roman of "Be honest about limitations. Don't fear data. Use data strategically".

Nan Roman: is a symptom of larger economic forces. Our work is only beginning.

Nan Roman: (Point in Time) PITCount estimates aren't just a count of beds. Beds went up while family homelessness went down

Is this a job creation program for homeless social services for the next 50 years or do we want to end homelessness?  Every advocate I talk to says family homelessness is going up (Cleveland, Atlanta, New York, Washington DC, Minnesota) and yet many at the national level are saying there is a decrease. By the way, if you do not have guaranteed access to shelter how can any count be trusted?  If you say to a family that there is not space in the shelter so go stay with your Mom, in their mind they are still homeless, but by HUD standards they are not.   Counting homeless people is a flawed exercise that is not based on any science.  It is not real data that has any usefulness for community planning or developing an emergency response to homelessness.  We have seen 45 years of increases, how can we be at the beginning?   It diminishes the work of the Housing NOW march and the McKinney Vento legislation and the Runaway youth effort and all the other work that has been done to say we are at the beginning.   But if we are looking at "larger economic forces" then why was there no discussion on an increase in disability payments or giving the nation a pay increase with improvements in minimum wage?  Why no discussion about debt specifically student loan debt that moves people to bankruptcy and homelessness? What about sanctioning cities for making it illegal to be homeless?  Why not forcing cities to provide housing to every one of its citizens?  Why not designing mandatory mentoring programs with city employees who get compensated for keeping people out of homelessness?  How about outlawing any discharge to a shelter?  There are so many big picture items that would actually have an impact on ending homelessness that no one is talking about.  Instead we focus on managing the crisis and counting the number of people we help out of the river after their family has dissolved and they have nearly drowned.  Pushing paper better in our community will not end homelessness.

Fascinating juxtaposition of talks: lamenting in-the-box thinking, and current speaker is celebrating bureaucracy.

Not spending one more dollar on case management and just investing in assertive engagement in Multnomah County? Horrible idea.

Heartfelt gratitude and respect for and working to end homelessness against all odds & sneers.

Every Rescue Mission must have a long term housing strategy

Your county can afford to keep in hospital for 3k a day but can't afford rent for 1k a month? -Mitchell Katz

Can't think of 1 thing in 312 days on the road ending homelessness last year supporting abandoning case mgmt 4 assertive engagement

Phoenix, AZ reached functionally zero chronically homeless. This is attainable in Erie County, NY too.

So many different strategies and so many different theories.  By the way, since the VA crisis of fake data started in Phoenix did anyone question their data on long term homeless?  Just reading the stream of tweets from the National Alliance conference is depressing and makes me want to raise the white flag  to surrender to those who say we have lost the war on poverty.  Most people in America believe that we will always have homeless people and listening to these "national experts" in New Orleans makes it seem more likely.  I got into this with the desire and feeling that America could end homelessness quickly if we just had the political will.  If you listen to these "national experts" you may be inspired that you can help a percentage of the population, but not in ending homelessness in America. If there are a million homeless people in America why set a goal for building 100,000 homes?  It makes no sense.

We are so far off course in how we address real people's problems.  We are so misguided in how we approach addiction, mental health, forgiveness, and housing from the national level.  Most of what gets said is to justify poor decisions and a lack of resources.   We seem to be developing an entire science for justifying homelessness in America.  There is no inspiration or immediacy from the group. The further we get away from the generation who won a world war, placed a man on the moon and ended an intractable war in Vietnam, the less confidence we seem to have that we can accomplish big goals. We now set goals for managing a problem instead of setting goals for quickly ending a problem.  We know how to end homelessness and it is not through data, diversion, counts or thinking small.   We need more affordable housing, more income for the population, enforcement of civil rights, and universal access to health care including behavioral health. If we focused on these four areas there would not be homelessness.  Civil rights include the right to a quality education for every student and the right to live inside in a safe environment.

 "Ending vet. homelessness isn't just something we should strive to achieve, it’s something we can do."

"The fact that right now our country has more than 58,000 homeless veterans...is a stain on the soul of this nation." -

: If we end homelessness for our veterans, we'll show we can finish the job for everyone experiencing homelessness

"As a nation, we've reduced veteran homelessness by 24% over three years & under this Administration." -

The First Lady, Michelle Obama, graciously attended the conference and spoke to the group. She said that we had reduced veteran's homelessness by 24%.  After the scandal that cost the VA Secretary his job, can we trust any of the figures that they are giving us?  But even if we do accept the stats, we only have until 2015 to house the other 75% to meet the President's goal--the glass is three fourths empty.  From the twitter feed, it seems that she focused her thoughts on ending veteran's homelessness in America.  I do not understand this concept.  We did not set a goal of ending polio among seniors.  We focused on eradicating polio for all.  We do not try to immunize all African American kids--we went after all kids.  We did not set up a highway system in Republican states or try to provide equal access to voting or government for one minority group.  The goal was not to eliminate child labor in the North or set up a social security safety net for disable seniors.  We do not solve problems in America piecemeal.  When did this work where we take on a huge issue in our society and address it with one population at a time.  If we do in fact end veteran's homelessness in 2015 and we have been working on the problem for 45 years, can we set a goal of 2275 for an end to family homelessness next?  

Maybe it was just getting a flood of 140 characters of information instead of hearing complete speeches, but it was a depressing week with NAEH14.  We are far away from ending homelessness in America.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Good News and the Bad News for Shelters

The budget compromise worked out in Congress over the last two weeks will allow funds going to homeless programs to increase by 9% for 2014.  The problem is that getting to that point will mean some tough choices, and those programs cannot be made whole in 2014.  This year and last we had to cut programs and reduce administrative costs.  Last year, every group took a 5% cut in funds.  Nationally, this is a $80 million above the pre Sequester level of $2.03 billion in 2013. This will mean an additional $2.16 million locally in 2014 for homeless and housing programs.  In the last month, the County decided to cut a number of programs and submit four projects that may or may not get funding. The rules do not allow going back and restoring the funds cut over the last few years, and a couple of projects will most likely have closed down over the last few years. 

What does this mean in Cleveland on the ground?  First, most of the transitional programs in the community will see a cut in their federal allocation in 2014.  These shelters will have to figure out how to find local or other funding to maintain services.  Two projects are not seeking federal dollars and will most likely close down in 2014.  Bridging the Gap, NEOCH's former housing program will cease operations in the summer.  It does not house the hundreds it did in the early 2000s, but we do not want to lose any programs that help to house people.  The other program that will have a significant impact on the community is the loss of Continue Life shelter for pregnant women.  This program goes back 20 years and was a response by the religious community to the abortion debate.  Deeply religious folks created this shelter as a place for women to go to get help as an alternative to giving up the child.  The building needs a great deal of help and there is not the level of support in our community that we saw in the 1980s for this facility.  

West Side Catholic has applied for additional funding to serve the pregnant women who previously used the Continue Life shelter.   This would mean no loss in the number of beds available to families in the community, but these would be scattered site transitional units.  Families would not live together in one facility, but would have their own space to live and regular contact with a social worker/housing specialist. Lakewood Community Services, LMM 2100 Lakeside Shelter, Frontline Services Safe Haven and the Norma Herr Women's shelter are all going to have to compete with other programs around the country for any funds left after the prioritized shelters are funded.   In Cleveland, we had $25.180 million needed to renew all the previously funded programs at the level of 2012.   We only have access to $23.995 million because Sequestration in the 2013 budget, which is being distributed in 2014. 

Because of the priorities in Washington, it is unlikely that supportive services only programs like Bridging the Gap or the local hiring of outreach workers to go out and build relationships with those outside and resistant to shelter will be funded as a new project.  A project will have a hard time trying to apply for additional funds to recoup losses over the last two years.  Transitional housing shelters are also not favored by either the local funders or HUD in Washington so it is unlikely that these programs will be able to find additional funding.  The new priority is funding housing programs, homeless prevention or permanent supportive housing programs. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinon of those who sign the entry

Sequestration: Shelters Face Uncertain New Year

There was a vote today on the recommendations for shelter funds for 2014.  These are federal dollars from the 2013 allocation from HUD which involves a 5% cut because of Sequestration.   To fully fund all of our currently funded shelters, services, and housing programs for homeless people we need $24,608,600 and HUD is only giving us $23,995,100.  This means that a few of the shelters will face a large cut in funding and another group of services/shelters will not know if they are going to get funded at all until February 2014.  For five facilities in Cleveland, they are going to wait to see if HUD picks their project based on the amount of money unspent at the national level and competition from every other city in America. 

There are a number of projects which will see a cut in 2014.  The Cleveland Tenants Organization Bridging the Gap program and the County Planning grants will both be eliminated in 2014.  NEOCH started Bridging the Gap back in 1990s, and in its prime it was housing over 100 people per year for the relatively small amount of $55,000 per year in Federal dollars.  We had received other local funding and an AmeriCorps grant to provide additional staff, but they program had a huge impact back in the early 2000s.   The BTG staff helped CMHA to improve their occupancy rate, opened up regular meetings with the housing authority application's staff and figured out a way to place the hardest to serve in our shelters into housing.  The program had dwindled to serving only a handful of people under CTO, but the program will be missed.   I still get calls from alumni of the program who thank us for helping them get into housing even today.

Around 80% of the federal funding for homeless services goes to Permanent Supportive Housing.  It is difficult to cut these programs because that would mean that the units either sit vacant or the disabled residents in these units will not have social service help.  In the plan that the County is submitting none of the PSH programs are slated to be cut.  The transitional housing programs take a huge blow as does street outreach.  Neither HUD nor the County are in love with transitional housing shelters anymore.  Staff from both HUD and the County view these programs as fads from the 1980s which keep people homeless too long and screen out the hardest to serve.  So, the Salvation Army transitional housing programs take a cut as does the Y-Haven program which will see a $50,000 reduction.  The West Side Catholic collaboration with the Domestic Violence and THI transitional housing program even though it was ranked with high marks received a cut and the Transitional Housing Inc. (THI) program also received a substantial cut in the 2013 plan.  The Frontline Services outreach and payee program for mentally ill people was cut in half which means that there will be 2 fewer outreach staff on the streets of Cleveland in 2014. 

These cuts are a direct result of Sequestration and the inability for Congress to agree on a budget.  We said over and over that we would not see the full results of Sequestration until 2014, and now it is time to pay the piper for Washington austerity and ineptitude.  We saw more families show up to request shelter in 2013 and yet we are going to see 5% fewer federal dollars to meet that need.  It is also a strange backward world in Washington where HUD officials push us to focus on youth, but not giving us money to carry out those goals.  All the money is going to long term homeless or those defined by HUD as having been documented to be on the streets for over a year typically with a disability, but homeless youth do not fall in these categories.  They couch surf which make them lose their eligibility for long term homeless programs as defined by HUD.   The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development has also downplayed outreach, but how do we find these long term homeless without outreach?  Those who need permanent supportive housing are not in the shelters they are living on the streets.  It is impossible to document these guys as being homeless without outreach workers.  There is no doubt HUD has been crippled by Congressional cuts, but they are not revising their strategies to meet the new funding reality in Washington.  We cannot carry out all these goals of serving those leaving foster care, the long term disabled and increasing homeless families if we have fewer dollars.  The pie cannot be cut into any smaller pieces especially if HUD is not giving us enough money to keep our doors open.  

There are five projects who are not being recommended in the first "Tier" of funding.  These programs have no idea if they will receive any money in 2014.  They are going to have to compete against every other "Tier 2" recommended project in the United States. All the Tier 1 programs (31 locally) are safe for 2014 funding as long as HUD qualifies our local Cuyahoga application.  If HUD has any money left after all the Tier 1 projects are funded, they will rank all the Tier 2 funded projects in the United States and take the top projects until all the money is used.  So, our projects recommended in Tier 2 will compete against those in Seattle, Los Angeles, Columbus and Boston for funding.   There is a small grant for the main Men's Shelter (2100 Lakeside) and the main Women's Shelter (Norma Herr) being recommended in Tier 2.  There is a small housing grant to Lakewood Community Services for rental assistance to those on the West Side of Cuyahoga County and a supportive service grant to Frontline Services for mentally ill homeless people.  The biggest hit to our community is the Continue Life program which serves pregnant women.  Continue Life has struggled for the last five years and is looking for merger opportunities, but it is the only project that serve pregnant women in need of shelter.  It is a critical project that could be lost if they do not receive federal support. 

We congratulate the staff of the County Office of Homeless Services including Ruth Gillett and Shari Weir for putting this all together.  They coordinate a review of every project every year.  This year they will finish the 2013 round in January and will immediately start the 2014 funding application which will need to be submitted in March 2014.  (More proof of how messed up Washington has become).  They rank these projects and help a committee make these recommendations to County Council and the County Executive.   They met with the Homeless Congress about these cuts to solicit their ideas.  They met with social service providers to walk through some of these concerns.  Coalition staff are concerned about the future of the Continue Life program and the reduction in outreach, but the County plan seems to be the best we could do in a tough spot.  I do not understand the changes at THI, but it seems that this project is changing to a permanent housing program and the homeless funds will only serve a small number of transitional housing residents left in the building.  These cuts recommended by the County seem to be a move away from homeless funding to a permanent housing funding stream for THI. 

We can be angry that our priority project is being cut. We can voice our displeasure over the cuts.  We could turn on the County and ask why was our project cut and not theirs, but NEOCH staff would advise against this strategy. This is the County making the best of a bad situation.  The easy way out would have just been a 5% across the board cut, but this plan took a huge amount of work to balance all the needs in the community.  We should reserve all of our disappointment and anger for Congress.  In a time of housing instability and slow job growth, we should be adding funds for homeless services not cutting.  It is shameful to cut housing, support services, or shelter when there are so many women with children seeking help.  We can be confused by HUD's decision to press on with four different priorities when the local community is struggling to keep their heads above water, but the problem is caused entirely by our elected leaders in Washington not doing their jobs.  The people who will not be able to access housing because they lose contact with their outreach staff can blame the US House of Representatives.  If the pregnant women's shelter is not funded and women cannot find a place to live they need to call their US Senator to complain.  If the transitional shelters have to reduce their size because of the cuts and have beds sit empty, look to the US Congress for responsibility. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

NLIHC Has a Good Summary of the Shut Down

The National Low Income Housing Coalition has done a good job of summarizing the impact of the shutdown on homeless and housing programs.   Locally, the HUD office is shut down and no staff will be attending the next CAHA meeting if the shutdown continues.  The next Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance meeting is Monday October 7 in the lower level of the US Bank Building with Lou Tisler of Neighborhood Housing Services and Bill Whitney of the Cuyahoga County Land Bank.  Here are the comments from the National Low Income Housing Coalition:

On Monday September 30, Congress failed to provide FY14 funding for the federal government to operate, which caused the government to shut down beginning at midnight on October 1. The House refused to pass a “clean” continuing resolution (CR) and the Senate refused to pass a CR that made funding contingent on modifying the Affordable Care Act, leaving the two chambers at an impasse.

On September 27, HUD issued a contingency plan outlining the impact of a shutdown on HUD programs. HUD’s largest rental assistance programs, the Housing Choice Voucher, Public Housing, and Project-Based Rental Assistance programs, appear to have funding to continue normal operations through October, either through previously-obligated funding or advance appropriations. After October, HUD’s contingency plan is largely silent.  [We will check on the status of CMHA locally].

 HUD anticipates that approximately 400 employees will be classified as “excepted” from the shutdown and will continue working in order to perform duties for programs also “excepted” from the shutdown. The programs, or functions of programs, that have been deemed “excepted” from the shutdown will continue to operate. These include homeless assistance programs, the distribution of HUD block grants, and FHA insurance programs “where the failure to address issues result in a threat to safety of life and protection of property.”

 In its contingency plan, HUD outlined shutdown status for these major programs:  

 

  • Tenant-Based Rental Assistance. According to HUD’s plan, October’s Housing Assistance Payments and administrative fees will be disbursed but there are no payments beyond October scheduled to be disbursed at this time. HUD will not process requests for tenant protection vouchers for public housing or multifamily actions during the shutdown.
  • Project-Based Rental Assistance. HUD plans to draw on advanced appropriations to continue housing payments for project-based contracts for October. According to HUD’s plan, it will make some payments under Section 8 contracts, rent supplement, Section 236, and project rental assistance contracts (PRACs) where there is budget authority available from prior appropriations or recaptures. HUD will not process any Section 8 contract renewal or waiver requests during the shutdown.

  • Public Housing. Local public housing agencies (PHAs) are not federal government entities and thus will not shut down. But, PHAs receive significant federal funding and their hours and capacities may be impacted by the federal shutdown. HUD’s contingency plan predicts that most of the country’s 3,300 PHAs have the necessary funds to continue providing public housing assistance for the remainder of the month. However, depending on the length of the shutdown, some PHAs may not be able to maintain normal operations. HUD recommends that local PHAs be contacted for information as to their operating levels.

  • Homeless Assistance Grants. According to the contingency plan, HUD homeless assistance grants, including supportive housing for veterans and housing for people with AIDS, will continue to be funded “to protect against imminent threats to the safety of human life.”

  • HOME Investment Partnerships Program, CDBG. According to HUD’s plan, it will “continue to disburse CDBG, HOME funds, and other block grant funds in cases where failure to address issues result in a threat to safety of life and protection of property.” HUD’s plan indicates that “cities and states would not be able to receive additional CDBG funds,” but HUD will disburse CDBG, HOME, and other block grant funds that have already been appropriated, and competitive funds that have been awarded and are under grant agreement.

HUD’s contingency plan provides details on agency functions that will continue or will halt for additional HUD programs. View HUD’s contingency plan under “featured news” on HUD’s website: http://www.hud.gov.

Other programs that impact the lives of homeless people including the Social Security administration, non-medical Veteran's Affairs staff who work on processing benefits, some of the specialized welfare programs were only funded through September 30, and eventually Health and Human Services will not be able to process grants to local healthcare, treatment or mental health programs. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Cuts to the Shelter Dollars Announced

The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the allocation for new projects in the United States.  Cleveland/Cuyahoga County asked for $25.59 million, but received only $24.28 million.   Local officials are happy and "grateful" that they only received a 5% cut.  There was a new Permanent Supportive Housing Project and more Shelter Plus Care vouchers.   The million dollars lost would have helped disabled homeless people pay rent to exit the shelters.  Because of sequestration, Cleveland received $1.3 million fewer rental dollars in the community.   We will have to keep people in the shelters for a longer period of time or operate overflow for longer. 

These cuts only mean that some other government has to pick up the costs.  The local community will have to pay for additional shelter beds, food, or emergency services, because of federal cuts.  We save so much money paying for rental assistance compared to the paying for 24 hours of care and the medical costs for a person living in a shelter or living outside.  Because of the across the board spending cuts in Washington, disabled homeless people in Cleveland suffer.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

HUD Closes on Friday because of Sequestration

On Friday June 14, you will not be able to call the Department of Housing and Urban Development to get a copy of a housing list because of Sequestration.  You will not be able to talk to a human being if you want to find out the procedure for filing a fair housing complaint.  You will not be able to figure out who to talk to find out if a landlord receives federal dollars to house low income or homeless people because the HUD offices will be closed.  This furlough day is to satisfy Congressional demands to reduce the federal budget.  This is in effect a salary reduction for federal employees who oversee housing dollars.  This is a reduction in pay for those who watch the allocation of dollars to cities and housing authorities.  The question comes up are we losing more money through waste, fraud and abuse because we are sending employees home and they are not doing their job than we save with a reduction in their salary? Sequestration is a stupid way to govern a democracy.

Brian Davis

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Large Cut to Homeless Shelters and Services Announced

The City of Cleveland received some unexpected news about a large decrease in funds for the Emergency Solutions Grant which supports the emergency shelters and the housing rental assistance programs in Cleveland.  City and County staff have not developed a plan yet for how these reduced funds will be distributed locally.  It was reported by HUD that Cleveland would receive a 22% decrease in funds while Akron received a 25% decrease. 

Cleveland has used its funding to pay for basic emergency shelter staffing, food, and transportation costs in the shelters.  We have decided to use the housing assistance funding to pay for rental assistance for families to avoid shelter or move quickly out of the limited shelter spaces.  This is especially critical at a time when we are seeing record numbers of families entering the shelters.  For the past two years, we have seen a huge increase during the summer months of families asking for shelter help in Cleveland and many other cities. 

We have posted a table showing the cuts in Emergency Solutions Grants for cities and for counties here.  (Thanks Gloria for making these colorful graphs).  HUD attributes these cuts to the Sequestration funding cuts and the austere budget passed by Congress earlier this year.   They have also begun using the American Community Survey from the US Census as the basis for distributing these funds.  Previously, they were using this strange formula which very few understood.  It is obvious that Cleveland and other similar Midwestern cities benefited from the previous formula.   We will keep you up to date on how this will impact the shelters.

Brian Davis

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Sequestration Will Mean a Couple of Shelters or Services Have to Close in 2014

We have posted more detailed information after staff met with senior HUD officials in our membership site.  You can only get to it by logging in to the site.  It is posted in the Member HUB section of the website.  You hFederal housing plan for 2014?ave to be a member to get access to the member section, but we try to include detailed information for those working in the system or want additional information for their advocacy. 

The big picture is that Sequestration will not hit the shelters until 2014, but there will be an impact.   Because the federal dollars for homelessness have remained steady for the last two years and now are being cut 6% because of Sequestration, there are expected to be cuts to the local shelters.  We are over a year behind in allocating federal dollars, and then there is almost a year for each program to complete their current contracts. 

Earlier this year in allocating the 2011 funds, three programs locally did not ask for renewal funds.  This assured that all the shelters received renewal funding.  The renewal burden is bigger every year even though no programs gets an increase based on inflation.  In this upcoming year, we will have to make some tough decisions.  Programs that serve the most difficult to serve and thus have poorer outcomes may be lost.  Smaller programs may have a harder time demonstrating their impact.  Those programs that take people right off the street may have difficulty obtaining enough points to get renewal funding.  We estimate between two and five programs may lose federal funding locally over the next two years because of the austerity of the federal government.  We will keep the community updated on these developments.

Brian Davis

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What Does Sequestration Mean For Homeless People?

We have a complete Advocacy Alert on our website here, but here is our best guess of what the impact on homeless people in Cleveland will be with the Sequestration.  We are most concerned about CMHA and the impact of this and the Continuing Resoltion has on Public Housing.  You can check out our advocacy alerts here.

  • Public Housing saw an 11% decline in the amount of money they were supposed to receive in March 2013.  This means for now they are not moving anyone into housing and freezing their budget with a hope that this will be resolved by the end of the month.  They need a fix on the huge cut they received as a result of the Continuing Resolution in 2012.  If things are not resolved by May 2013, both the voucher and public housing programs will face some awful choices since they are near 100% occupancy. 
  • The unstable federal budget means that many housing programs are waiting to see what happens.  Capital development projects are slowing down, program expansion is not happening, and housing programs are more reluctant to take new people into their units.  This is causing the entry shelters to not have as many people leaving for permanent housing.  The front door of the shelters are wide open accepting new people, but the door to permanent housing is barely open and fewer people are leaving the shelters. 
  • The Center for Budget Priorities and Policy Priorities estimated that Ohio would lose 4,685 housing choice vouchers over the next year which would mean that Cleveland would lose about 750 vouchers.  CBPP estimated a $12.9 million dollar cut to Ohio Public Housing Agencies if the Sequestration stands, which would translate to around $2.5 million for CMHA. 
  • In Cleveland, EDEN Development Corporation acts as a public housing authority but is also a non-profit housing development corporation.  EDEN runs the Shelter Plus Care Program and provides housing to mentally ill individuals, disabled and those who have been homeless for a long time.  They have been told that they will receive a 6% cut in funding if the Sequestration stays in place, which would mean around 115 people will not be housed over the next year.  This could mean not putting anyone else into housing or in the extreme an ending of some contracts. They still have not resolved how they will deal with the impact of Sequestration.
  • If the cuts remain, the local shelters would face a decrease in $1.35 million probably beginning in early 2014.  Every shelter would probably have to eliminate a staff person from their payroll or reduce specialized meals for diabetics and fresh food from the menus.  They may eliminate all help with transportation or even close the doors when the shelter beds are full instead of finding a place in the community to serve the population.
  • The shelters funded by the City of Cleveland are funded with pre-Sequester money until June.  If this is not resolved there would be across the board cuts starting in June with progressively harsher cuts culminating in early 2014  when the big cuts would hit. 

What can you do?

National and State advocates believe that this will be resolved in the US Senate.  So we are asking that you call your Senator from Ohio with the simple message: Sequestration means families in Cuyahoga remain homeless for a longer period of time costing the community millions.  We need the Sequestration ended today! Call Senator Brown 202-224-2315 and Senator Rob Portman 202-224-3353 to register your concerns. 

Sequestration = Chaos and Confusion

Two CMHA officials gave their periodic update about the agency at the last CAHA meeting.  Media are not supposed to quote presenters at CAHA so that they can be free to be speak honestly.  But we can give you the basics of the meeting: Sequestration means chaos and confusion.  Throughout the federal government this week and with non-profit agencies receiving the bulk of their money from the federal government there are lots of meetings happening.  They are wasting human capital figuring out how to cut staff, travel, or other costs because Congress is so dysfunctional.  They are implementing what both parties agreed would never happen.  It has happened and it will have real consequences for people living in Public Housing. 

The issue is that both Public Housing and the Voucher Program are at nearly 100% occupied, and these cuts have to be across the board.  So they can not take any new people in like the Housing Choice Voucher program has decided to do, but eventually the 5% cut will catch up to involve evictions.  The other problem is that the agency received a huge cut last year and they were told to go into their reserves.  Then Congress never passed a budget and just continued the 2012 budget which was a still a substantial decrease.  Many are running low on their reserves and cannot continue unless there is a fix or restoration of cuts from last year.  The bigger problem for both agencies is the Continuing Resolution runs out at the end of March.  This great unknown of what will happen on March 28 is by far a bigger concern for the Housing Authority. 

Housing Authorities have been instructed to cut 5% across the board, but that is 5% for the year so each month is a much larger increase since we are well into the fiscal year.  For example, the Housing Authority only received 89% of what they were expecting for March because of Sequestration.  They are meeting all the time to figure out what to do.  So, instead of repairing units, finding additional revenue, or housing people they are wasting their time figuring out how to divide up 85% of the budget they need to stay open. Eventually, the tenants and landlords are going to feel the pain, but right now it is just a headache for the administration.  They may have to put off rebuilding projects or furlough staff.  They are committed to maintain the people currently in housing and making the last cut to people currently housed.  It was mentioned that this could result in more homeless people.  The sad fact is that the homeless shelters will also see a 5% cut.  The shelter cuts would not start being seen until the fall, but we are already seeing a backup in the shelters where no one is leaving.  So, the men's shelter is having issues where the communities are static and very few are moving into housing.  This is causing a back up at the front door and more people facing an overflow situation. 

Sequestration means chaos for Public Housing.  It means confusion and insecurity for the future of the voucher program.  We will see what happens over the next month, but right now it is a big waste of time that could be over if Congress would just do their jobs. 

Brian Davis

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Sequestration and Public Housing in Cleveland

We never would hVendor Marsha (bird costume) and Ron with CMHA Riverview in the backgroundave imagined that Congress would drive the bus over the edge.  They had nearly two  years to work out a deal, and they could not do it.  So, it was only a coincidence that we scheduled both Public Housing and the Housing Choice Voucher Program staff at the CAHA meeting on the first business day since Sequestration had started.  On Monday March 4, 2013, the Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance meeting will feature Scott Pollock, Director of Planning and Activities for CMHA will discuss Public Housing in the days of Sequestration.  The meeting is at 1:30 p.m. at the HUD offices 1350 Euclid Ave. in the Playhouse Square neighborhood will also feature Priscilla Pointer Hicks of the Housing Choice Voucher Program. 

Both programs have faced repeated budget cuts over the last five years, so will be especially hard hit with sequestration.   We have not heard many specifics on how this will impact the local community especially the low income residents of Cleveland.  We will post some of the consequences of Sequestration for Public Housing and the Voucher program next week.

Here are the cuts that will take place this year nationally:

$199 million cut from public housing
$96 million cut from Homeless Assistance Grants
$17 million cut from Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS
$19 million cut from Housing for the Elderly
$175 million cut from Low Income Home Energy Assistance

Next months CAHA (April 1) will feature Ruth Gillett of Cuyahoga County Office of Homeless Services to talk about the impact of budget cuts on homeless programs.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.