Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Shelter Showdown Set

East Side Catholic Strikes Back Against County

After the County Office of Homeless Services Advisory Board voted in January to withhold future funding until East Side Catholic family shelter found a fiscal agent to manage their money, the shelter staff and board have finally responded. They have obviously calculated that they are too valuable to the community and the County will back down. They might be right, but my experience says that the County usually wins it just takes a great deal of time and aggravation.

For those who do not remember and do not want to go back to the link, East Side Catholic received repeated warnings about problems with the shelter. The County has had issues for two years now with the shelter and the administration of the shelter. It seems that the director left and the board dissolved. There were problems with an audit, and the programming that the women were receiving in the shelter. Anyway, there were serious problems and all the Board including the Coalition for the Homeless supported the actions taken by the County.

East Side Catholic sent a harsh letter to Ruth Gillett of the County Office of Homeless Services rejecting the oversight and demanding a meeting with the Federal Department overseeing shelter funds and Cuyahoga County. "East Side Catholic refuses to forfeit its FY 2006 grant award...East Side Catholic will not waive its rights to make application for FY 2007. " The Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development gives a great deal of discretion to the local government entity to manage each of the projects. There are thousands of project sponsors in the United States and HUD depends on the local jurisdiction to provide oversight of each shelter. The FY 2007 applications are already done and currently under review. East Side Catholic already missed the local application deadline and is certainly going to be skipped.

I especially like this line from their letter, "East Side Catholic continues to have grave problems receiving complete and clear information from OHS. " Ain't it the truth. Ruth is notorious for providing incomplete and vague information. That is how she has survived in government for so long. No matter if this is true or not, the County will win. They beat Care Alliance and in the end owned the Care Alliance buildings. They eliminated University Settlement from federal funding. The County will eventually prevail. It seems that the staff and Board of East Side Catholic feel that the County is weak and can be bullied. That is a facade that the OHS staff put out, but it is not the case. There will be a long drawn out battle, which may lead to the entire program failing and hundreds of homeless families struggling to find a place to live. This is emblematic of how things work in the homeless system--no coordination, much competition, very little cooperation, lots of fights, and very little progress is ever made toward the goal of ending homelessness. The worst part of this is the negative impact this will have on a population that is already struggling in our community: homeless families.

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

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