Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Calling Advocates in Cleveland Heights

Photo image by Pleasure Simmons from the Grapevine photo project of 2007

Advocacy Alert: Cleveland Hts. Spend Your Stimulus Money to Prevent Homelessness!!!

Overview of the Problem: In 2009, Cleveland Hts. received $715,000 to help prevent homelessness as part of the federal stimulus program. The city pooled their resources with Cuyahoga County and the City of Cleveland--$13 million dollars to serve any low income in the county facing eviction. Last year, there were approximately 500 people who faced eviction at the Cleveland Hts. Municipal Court. By January 2011 (16 months after receiving the funding), Cleveland Hts. has only used 12.2% of their available funding or $87,000. The Federal government says that the City must have 60% of their dollars expended by July 2011 or it is redistributed to other communities, and all money must be spent by July 2012. In July and October 2010, NEOCH contacted the Cleveland Hts. agency overseeing these funds requesting the hiring of an attorney to be stationed at the court to help with evictions and to refer those facing eviction to the Cleveland non-profit distributing the funds in order to spend down the Cleveland Hts funding. No one from Cleveland Hts. ever even acknowledged our letter.

Lakewood received over $900,000 from the federal stimulus. They kept their money within the City and partnered with Lakewood Christian Services to spend the funds. In January 2011, Lakewood had allocated 67% of their funds to help prevent evictions.

Why is Cleveland Hts. not spending their money? Why are they not responding to partner agencies in the community that offer to help?

What can you do? Ask your elected official?

Mayor Ed Kelley

Vice President Phyllis Evans

Nancy McLaughton
CDBG Program Administrator

Or attend the Cleveland Hts. City Council meeting on the First and Third Monday of the Month.

They take questions and comments from the public at the beginning of the meetings. Check out the schedule here. The Next meetings for the Committee of the Whole are:
April 11 at 5:45 p.m.
Wednesday April 20 at 5:45 p.m.
April 25 at 5:45 p.m.

If you get any reply, please let us know since no one is talking to us. Thanks to the Sun Press for publishing our letter two weeks ago, and thanks to Channel 5 WEWS taking up the issue.

UPDATE 4/7/2011: Last night, Channel 5 WEWS did a nice report on the Cleveland Hts. issue, and the reporter was able to interview a resident of Cleveland Hts. who could not get enough assistance to stay in the city. The end of the story was interesting in that it seems that the City is content to give the money over to the County to use. As a resident of Cleveland Hts., I object. The City took the money from the federal government, but has done very little to make sure that people facing eviction will be able to stay in place. Why accept the money and then give it to some other community for help when there are residents of Cleveland Hts who are facing homelessness? It does not make any sense.--Brian Davis

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