Monday, August 13, 2007

Update on Public Housing

CMHA Updates from CAHA

Every month advocates, government, researchers, and social service providers meet to discuss the state of affordable housing in Cleveland. The meetings are open to the public and take place the first Monday of the month (unless there is a federal holiday) at the HUD building/U.S. Bank Building at 1350 Euclid Ave. at 1:30 p.m.. The goal is to prevent any further losses in housing in our community. We hope by meeting we can find out about troubled property well in advance and then work to save those properties. We have guests from all over the community who have some expertise in housing, and can provide the group an update on local housing issues. The meetings provide us a wealth of information so that we are all on the same page with regard to the state of affordable housing. Advocates can use that information in the community to push for more housing or attempt to prevent the loss of affordable units. In March of 2008, CAHA will celebrate the tenth anniversary of meetings. We have had Mayors, State agencies and Suburban Community Development officers in the past 10 years. In October, we hope to have Lt. Governor Lee Fischer attend our meeting to talk about state efforts to expand affordable housing.

Anyway, CMHA regularly attends the meeting and provides information about their program on a quarterly basis. We don't always agree with the decisions made at CMHA--like why take in more applications when there are already 7,000 waiting for housing in a program that only has 9,500 total units in their inventory. Overall, they try to do a good job in the face of criticism and back breaking government bureaucracy. In the last six years, HUD in Washington has tried everything in their power to destroy Public Housing from messing with their budget to eliminating capital repair programs to eliminating the drug eradication programs and the PHAs have survived. It is really remarkable to see how CMHA has been able to make it despite being repeatedly strangled by the bureaucrats in Washington. Most of us realize that we need these Public Housing and voucher programs or homelessness would be so much worse. Most of the enlightened Mayors (Akron and Cleveland among others) realize this and push back against federal cuts. The year to year fight for survival for the PHAs just wears us all down. Every year, the Washington bureaucrats think of another creative way to destroy the PHAs like CMHA, and the advocates have to suit up for a new battle.

So, here are a few numbers from CMHA about what they are doing:
  • There are 9,500 units available in public housing and less then 2% are vacant. This vacancy rate is better then in the housing market in general.
  • 8,700 are occupied with 700 undergoing modification or rehabilitation.
  • There are 7,122 people on the waiting list for Public Housing.
  • 61% are waiting for a one bedroom and 22% are looking for a 2 bedroom.
  • 83% of the waiting list are extremely low income.
  • 43% of the waiting list are members of a family and 16% of the waiting list are disabled.
  • The average annual income of the tenants are $7,148 per year.
  • 89% of the Public Housing tenants are extremely low income (while 79% of the voucher tenants are extremely low income.)
  • 20% of the Public Housing tenants are employed while 20 years ago only 12% were employed.
  • 22% of the tenants have no income while 10 years ago only 10% had no incomes.
  • Only 4% of the tenants in Public Housing are receiving cash assistance from TANF, while 10 years ago 30% were receiving public assistance.
  • CMHA only received 85% of the funding that they needed from the Federal government, and have had to cut staff and excess property to keep their budget balanced.
  • They are currently working on an agency Annual Plan which is available for public comment until September 21, 2007.
  • Despite federal attempts to eliminate the funds to modernize some of their housing, Congress has thrown some spare change at this program. CMHA is working on finishing the renovations of Riverview, Lakeview and Valleyview (now called Tremont Pointe).
  • CMHA is struggling with federal cuts, and no one in the community is very happy with the State allocation of tax credits to build affordable housing.
They are not perfect, but they have made huge strides to make up for the insulated and corrupt days of the 1990s. They get a bad reputation in the community, but things are a lot better then we ever get to hear about in the media.

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

2 comments:

Cynthia Miller said...

I feel it is important that the public, especially those of us who have been homeless and are living in subsidized housing be made aware of these meetings.

Those of us in this situation need to let HUD and the advocates, government researchers and social service providers know about the conditions in some of the buildings we live in.

I would like to see this information posted on NEOCH's Events page despite the fact these meetings are not a NEOCH sponsored event.

Cindy Miller

Anonymous said...

Brian-

nice article on CAHA. I forwarded a link to my HUD friends in Columbus in hope that they will be able to adopt some of the "features" that CAHA has innovated.

spencer