Five Years After the Recovery Act

This week was the anniversary of the American Recovery Act signed into law to clean up the mess that Wall Street made of our economy.  The lax regulations of big banks and the unregulated housing market corrupted the financial industry.  A lot of ink has been spilled to complain that the ACA was a giant boondoggle because we still have a relatively high unemployment rate.  I don't know about the other areas of the ACA, but I can say that it was a life saver for homeless people in Cleveland. 

I remember how people were worried that the whole system was failing.  I remember that the Presidential election suspending their campaigns because of how dire the situation was.  I remember that I thought that there would be thousands of families who were going to need shelter in Cleveland.  We were shedding massive numbers of jobs and there was no end in sight.  We were on the brink of a Great Depression II and no one had any answers.  Remember that the Congress originally refused to pass a rescue plan and the stock market took a huge dive, before they came to their senses.  

I can say that the $14 million that we got in Cleveland to assist homeless people worked.  We saw a huge increase in the number of people showing up at the shelters, but with the rental assistance we got people out of the shelters quickly.   We learned a lot from the stimulus funding.  We learned what worked and what did not.  We did not have to turn people away, and we know that we can quickly implement a program to end homelessness for thousands.  It was proof that if we had the proper resources government could solve problems.  If we built large numbers of housing units and found people income, we could significantly reduce homelessness in America.   The housing part of the ACA was a huge success in Cleveland and we could use a new infusion of funds like we got five years ago.

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

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.