Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Update from CAHA

CMHA Public Housing Presented

The Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority periodically presents at the Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance to update the group on the state of the agency.  It was Scott Pollock's time on Monday November 7, and he had a great deal of information on all the development taking place around the city.  From the introduction of their new headquarters in the forgotten triangle to the Woodhill Community Center ribbon cutting (pictured above) that same morning. They have ground breakings at the Lee Harvard Senior Housing, in East Cleveland and Fairfax Inter generational townhouses.  Most of these new units were made available because of the 2009 Stimulus funding or the Neighborhood Stabilization fund which was put in place after the foreclosure crisis.  CMHA was fortunate to receive millions in stimulus and other capital funding, and seem to have upgraded hundreds of homes to be more energy efficient.  They have built hundreds of new units to replace worn out housing that was taken down.  They have worked to de-concentrate poverty and make public housing more attractive to neighbors.  All the groundbreakings and ribbon cuttings seem to indicate that they got busy when the stimulus dollars came to Cleveland.

Let's roll the numbers:
CMHA Public Housing has 9,412 available units with 8,992 occupied.  There are 420 total vacant units which is the lowest since 1974.  They are modernizing 257 of those vacant units and 163 units are being turned over to others on the waiting list.  CMHA's adjusted occupancy rate is at 98.3% when taking out those units under modernization or renovation. 

The waiting list is overwhelming and huge with 11,424 people waiting for a public housing unit and 69% of those individuals are looking for a 1 bedroom apartment, and 24.6% for a 2 bedroom apartment.  They serve 16,753 individuals and 34.4% are families with children and 19.5% are seniors (which mirrors the local census demographics).  My beef with CMHA is that they have segregated 27% of their properties only available to those over 50 years old (which makes it harder for the large number of younger people to get into a subsidized unit locally).

The largest segment of public housing residents have no income at all (20.1% or 1,742) with residents relying on social security second at 19.4%, and 18.2% are employed.  17.4% of the residents have SSI as their sole source of income.  The average annual income for the population is only $7,072.  With only $7,000 annual income, it is unlikely that the average tenant has the ability to pay the market price for rent.

The massive waiting list is a symptom of the housing crisis in America.  It points to the massive number of units we need to renovate or build in order to restore stability to America's cities.   Every single person currently housed would have to leave public housing before the guy who applies today will get offered a housing unit.  At this stage, turnover in the units is anemic, because there are so few places to go.  Local rents have not come down, but wages are stagnate or falling.  People are staying put and not risking the loss of their housing.  The federal government is again talking about cutting the public housing budget.  Our local housing authority has climbed out of the days of decay and crime ridden neighborhoods.  We have a housing crisis in the United States with 11,400 people waiting for public housing and 65,000 having applied for a voucher about two months ago.  It make no sense to cut any federal dollars going to house people.  What is Congress thinking?

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