Saturday, December 23, 2006

Out of Reach Report Out-HUD Funds Not

New Report Shows Need for $11.21 per hour job to Afford Housing in Cleveland

The National Low Income Housing Coalition "Out of Reach" Report came out earlier this month. It shows us with detailed numbers why homelessness is on the rise in America. With a severe shortage of housing that is subsidized by the federal government, it is very difficult for many to keep their housing when rents keep increasing. The new report shows that an individual must make $11.21 per hour in order to afford a one bedroom apartment in Cleveland. The increase in the minimum wage will allow lower income people to take 20 hours off their work week and still be able to afford housing in Ohio. A renter looking for an apartment with two bedrooms must work 79 hours making minimum wage in 2007 in Cleveland in order to afford the fair market rent. In 2006, that same individual had to work 105 hours in order to afford rent in Cleveland. Thanks to the voters of Ohio those making minimum wage will only have to work two full times jobs instead of 2.5 jobs.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development says that an individual should only spend 30% of their income on rent in order for it to be affordable. The Fair Market Rent in Cleveland for a one-bedroom is $583 or a two bedroom apartment $702. To afford the Fair Market Rent an individual must make $23,320 a year for a one bedroom or $28,080 for a two bedroom. It is slightly less in the State of Ohio with $20,606 a year for a one bedroom and an individual must make $25,596 per year to afford rent in Ohio. This translates to $9.91 per hour for a one bedroom in Ohio or $11.21 per hour for a one bedroom in Cleveland.

The worst part of this study is the Mission Impossible we have assigned to those with a disability in Ohio. We actually have a rather low Fair Market Rent compared to some parts of the country, but it is a high hurdle to find an affordable place to live with only a disability check. These individuals must find an apartment with a rent of $181 per month in the State or pay nearly all their monthly SSI check in an apartment at the traditional market rate. This is a fragile population that needs our help instead we give them $603 a month and send them out on a journey to survive on just enough money to pay the rent. I would like to see Tom Cruise try his hand at this Impossible Mission and keep his sanity.

HUD Does Not Release Funding for Homeless Programs

Right around Christmas for the past eight or ten years, HUD has released funds for all the shelters, transitional facilities, and supportive housing programs to get the positive press of December homeless stories. They give out money to ride the wave of late November/December inevitable holiday stories (see Plain Dealer Holiday Spirit) when the media suddenly remembers that there are homeless people among us. The Feds give away $1 Billion to 1.5 Billion dollars in December every year with most of that money renewing the budgets of the existing shelters in the United States.

Congress did not pass the HUD budget, and this made it impossible to get that positive publicity of releasing their Continuum of Care funds near Christmas. I have no idea how they are going to approve the shelter/homeless programs' budgets if the government runs out of money in February. Will they wait until the new Congress passes a 2007 budget? Will they approve a small partial year budget? Will they renew only some of the programs? We all wonder what will happen with the HUD budget. Maybe the media will realize that there are homeless people all year if the budget issue is resolved in February and HUD announces the release of funds at that time, but will the shelters be able to hold on during this delay?

Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.


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