Thursday, December 27, 2007

Federal Funding Announced Friday

HUD Announces Christmas Gift to Cities

On Friday December 21, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the release of the majority of federal funding for state and county efforts to address homelessness. The State of Ohio received a total of $70 million to fund all the shelters, homeless vouchers, homeless housing programs, case workers, prevention effort, and outreach program in Ohio. This may seem like a lot until you consider two things. First, it is only $51.39 per person for every person living below the poverty level and thus in danger of becoming homeless in the state of Ohio. Also, over $60 million of these funds are just to renew existing programs. So, 86% of the money is used just to keep the doors open on existing programs. Most of the new programs are housing vouchers for disabled people and currently homeless--called Shelter Plus Care. In the entire State of Ohio there were only 9 new projects funded this year.

Cleveland fared best in the State of Ohio. No mistakes on any applications. We have to thank Ruth at the Office of Homeless Services for putting this mammoth application together. There are very few in our community who could check all those boxes and put all of that information together in a timely fashion to get the money that we deserve. After a rough year for the Office, they must feel good that they were able to bring a total of $23.4 million to the City and County. Basically, the way this works is that HUD tells the cities how much we are entitled to received ($13.7 million for Cleveland) based on some complicated formula no one understands. Then, the City/County can renew their disabled housing vouchers (Shelter Plus Care), and that does not impact your share of the pie. So, Cleveland has always tried to get as many Shelter Plus Care vouchers as possible thus we must renew more vouchers then any other city in Ohio. We received an additional $1.3 million for the emergency shelters and outreach in our community. Cuyahoga County received $9.6 million above our share of the federal share of homeless dollars, because we had to renew our S+C disabled housing voucher program. This works out to $724 for every person homeless in 2006 in Cuyahoga County, which means we spend $100 per person more than any other city in Ohio. Cleveland was only able to fund two new projects and some more new S+C vouchers for a total of 14% of the allocation. Basically, if those in charge of the application put the application together correctly, the City and County receive all that we are entitled to receive from the Feds.

Columbus does poorly in this formula. While Franklin County is only a little over 200,000 smaller in population than Cuyahoga County, they only received $8.1 million this year from the Feds (35% of Cuyahoga County). They only received $365,000 in Emergency Shelter dollars. They only have $3.7 million in S+C housing for disabled vouchers renewed this last year. Columbus/Franklin County only spend $46.28 per person living in poverty or $249.97 per homeless person using Federal government funds. Franklin County only has 5% of their total allocation going to new projects. Since I keep hearing at the national level how great Columbus is doing in addressing homelessness, I guess that they don't need much money to put up a good fight. I know that it is a huge annoyance that they get so much less than Cuyahoga County. The way that Columbus is expanding soon they will have annexed all the land south of Cuyahoga County, and will demand an equal share of the pie.

Cincinnati/Hamilton County with only 822,500 people does better than Columbus. They received $11.1 million in funds from HUD and $3.8 in renewals of the S+C housing vouchers. They spend more than double the federal dollars spent on people living in poverty at $95.10 per person and $621.79 for every homeless person. Cincinnati had enough capacity to spend 13% of their grant on new projects. We will have all the statistics in the next Homeless Grapevine to be published in January. The big question: why does HUD make these announcements on the day that cities are remembering those who died over the last year while homeless? Spin control? They don't care? I have no idea, but it seems callous to me.

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

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