Homelessness, especially chronic homelessness has long been a difficult problem to solve. The major initiative to deal with chronic homelessness is called Housing First. In Housing First a chronically homeless person is provided Permanent Supportive Housing. This is a building – we have 10 here in Cleveland and hope to have another one ready to come on line in 2015. The buildings are safe and staffed 24/7. The clients are not required to get sober or clean before they are given housing. When this idea first came out it was considered very radical as it is a complete change from previous policies where a person was required to be clean and sober before being given housing. Imagine living in a shelter or on the streets and trying to get straight.
Please watch this short video. It is a somewhat humorous take on Housing Frist from The Daily Show. While it chronicles the Housing First efforts of Salt Lake City the statistics are very similar to Cuyahoga County.
Cuyahoga County currently has 584 Units across 10 sites with an additional 66 units coming online in 2015. There has been a 73% decrease in chronic homelessness since 2006 – similar to Salt Lake City. This has resulted in a 36% average increase in income, a 95% drop in hospital admissions and a 30% drop in prison re-entry – from 35% to 5% for these people. This has saved the community a significant amount of money. These residents are predominantly male (68%) and 70% are between the ages of 45 and 61 with 8% over 62. Eighty one percent identified as having mental illness and 20% are veterans.
In Cleveland 89% of Housing First clients stayed in permanent supportive housing and 10.5% went to other permanent housing such as an apartment or house. Less than 1% of clients returned to shelter. Cuyahoga County is known throughout the country for our successful Permanent Supportive Housing Program.
This month we welcome three new board members, Steve Rini - Merrill Lynch, Steve Byrne – PNC and Marc Walrod – PriceWaterhouseCoopers. We also welcome back Jack Bedell and Tim Atkinson who previously served on the board and are back for more! We also say farewell to Jim Gulick, Sharon Tufts, Kevin Ryan and Mike Solecki who all completed their second terms on the board. Please don’t be strangers around the WSCC! We are grateful to both the new and departing board members for sharing their time, treasures and talents with the WSCC.
As always, thank you for reading.