Saturday, September 17, 2011

Poverty and Housing Needs

Shelter Stays Up, Poverty Increases, and People are in Need of Housing

The Community Women's Shelter in Cleveland has seen record numbers in August 2011.  They are way over capacity, and are struggling to serve all the families showing up who are in need.  Cleveland is one of the last cities in the United States that does not turn people away who show up for shelter.  The social service providers work to find a place for everyone requesting help.  We are lucky to live in a city that values keeping people inside and safe.  This has caused the agency running the Community Women's shelter to have to juggle staff and thus close during the day.  The women have to go to the Bishop Cosgrove Center or a library or somewhere else.  This has been a hardship for the women, but the agency is working everyday to serve the historic number of women showing up.  The shelter is more than 60% over the capacity.

Today, the US Census bureau released the federal poverty numbers, which shows that poverty has increased to a figure we have not seen since 1993 and increased by 2.6 percentage points in the last three years.  These are the regional and national figures released today.  The state and municipal numbers will be released later this year.  The South had the sharpest rise in poverty in the United States with African Americans seeing a 1.6% increase in the number of people living below the poverty level between 2009 and 2010.  This shows the Great Recession continues to have a huge impact on our local communities.  The other figure released today was that unemployment rose for the third month in a row.  All of this contributing to the rise in homelessness in Cleveland. 

How this plays out on the local level is that evictions within the City of Cleveland are up, and a record number of people applied for a housing voucher in August.  There were 64,700 unduplicated number of individuals who entered their name into the Section 8/Housing Choice Voucher lottery from August from CMHA.  Only 10,000 names will be drawn so an applicant has a 15% chance of getting a voucher.  The person "winning the housing lottery" could wait up to five years for their number to come up.  The last lottery, in 2006, saw 40,000 unique individuals apply shows the level of need in our community. 

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