Worst Economy in Over 50 Years; Only Slight Increase in Homelessness
NEOCH Publishes Report on the 2009 State of Homelessness in Cleveland
In 2009, local unemployment rose to its highest point in a quarter century, hunger increased, and the housing market continued to deteriorate, during that time homelessness rose only by a small amount. The Cleveland Metropolitan School District reported a 17% increase in homeless children as compared to 2008. Foreclosures have remained steady while homelessness in the suburbs increased, which put additional economic pressures on the shelters. There was an increase in calls to the domestic violence hotline, but a decrease in the number of men using the shelter system.
This is just a small sample of the information available in the report recently published by the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless: State of Homelessness 2009. The report includes: statistics on Ohio poverty and homelessness, the demographics of Cleveland shelter residents (72% African American), homeless children within the Cleveland school district (17% increase), the level of shelter funding (a 5% decline), and the calls requesting shelter help to 211 (6% increase). We include usage information for HousingCleveland.org and local eviction numbers (remains steady in 2009); data on single men in Cuyahoga County (a slight decrease) and the resulting impact on area homelessness. The report looks at two new projects in Cuyahoga County: the Central Intake project and the new Homeless Prevention program, which both provide a wealth of data. The report shows in detail the short period of time that most people spend homeless (23% spend a day or less and 75% are homeless for less than a month). We feature, for the first time, data on the population of homeless people who are “doubled up” from MSASS report. The State of Homelessness Report 2009 provides a narrative on the positive trends that improved the state of homelessness in 2009.
The City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County have put in place a rich network of prevention services and emergency services that kept the homeless population at a reasonable level despite this horrible economy. One big improvement that assisted the community last year was the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding that went to rental assistance in 2009. Locally, the Council of Economic Opportunities of Greater Cleveland began distributing rental assistance funds in August, and have since helped nearly 700 households prevent evictions. The community saves thousands per household by keeping people out of shelter and instead providing them services while still housed.
The report discusses the “lost women” in our community who were targeted by a serial killer in 2009, and the need to improve services to those struggling with addictions. Also detailed are a number of “dangerous trends” affecting homelessness in our area that need to be addressed by community leaders. Finally, the report concludes with a list of proposed solutions to reduce homelessness in 2010 and beyond. The report is illustrated with photographs taken by graduates of NEOCH’s photo project, a two-month photography training internship for homeless persons with physical or mental disabilities.
This is the third year that NEOCH has published its State of Homelessness report. NEOCH, an advocacy organization, presents this information as the basis for discussion of the problems facing our community. The report was funded by the St. Luke’s Foundation and the City of Cleveland. The complete report can be found at NEOCH’s website.
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