Thanks to everyone who helped make Housing Ohio 2017 a success!
Housing Ohio 2017 was our biggest conference ever, with 568 attendees, 30 workshops, and four Housing Institutes! COHHIO would like to thank our workshop presenters, our keynote speakers, our sponsors and, of course, everyone who attended Housing Ohio 2017.
Pediatrician Megan Sandel, of Children’s Health Watch, kicked off the conference Monday, April 10 with her presentation underscoring the importance of safe, decent affordable housing to health.
Dr. Sandel reviewed research indicating the negative health effects of poor housing quality on children’s health, and presented new ideas on how the health care and housing sectors can create partnership to address housing insecurity and the health problems that go with it.
On Tuesday we heard from nationally renowned housing advocates who warned that proposed federal budget cuts could reverse the progress Ohio has made in the fight against homelessness in recent years. Leaders of the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the National Alliance to End Homelessness also outlined opportunities to tackle the nation’s shortage of affordable housing.
NAEH President & CEO Nan Roman said Ohio’s 20 percent reduction in overall homelessness over the past five years outperformed the national decline in homelessness.
“People here in Ohio and around the nation who work on homelessness have really turned the ship around,” she said, attributing declining rates of homelessness to homeless providers adopting more effective strategies, improved coordination between local, state and federal agencies, and increased federal funding to house homeless veterans. “We have a great argument for continued funding, because what we’re doing is actually working to reduce homelessness.”
Diane Yentel, President & CEO of NLIHC, offered guidance on how advocates can push back on proposed cuts to the HUD budget. “We can and we will stop these cuts from being implemented. This is just the beginning of what will be a long and protracted fight,” she said.
Yentel also outlined opportunities to expand federal funding for affordable housing by reforming the mortgage interest tax deduction, which primarily benefits wealthy homeowners.
COHHIO Executive Director Bill Faith and other members of the Home Matters to Ohio campaign updated attendees on efforts to expand the Ohio Housing Trust Fund, the primary source of state funding for local homeless and affordable housing programs. (An amendment to strengthen the Trust Fund has since been added to the state budget).
Feedback from Housing Ohio 2017 attendees has been overwhelmingly positive. The following are a few representative responses to the evaluation survey:
- I like the plan of action presented in many of the sessions so that we can all advocate strongly. COHHIO strengthens the network and provides tools for daily use. Thanks again for a great conference.
- The conference has grown and it keeps getting bigger and better each year. I have always appreciated the plenary speakers who present engaging graphics on the topic. One year it was extremely thought provoking and overall interactive.
- Well-informed speakers. I especially appreciated their honesty in discussions of race, class, poverty, and the dangers the new administration presents to progress made to tackle such issues over the last 8 years.
- The convening power of COHHIO is evident in your ability to attract some of the foremost thought leaders in housing policy and homelessness. I am also pleased to see the diversity among COHHIO staff in terms of gender, race, and orientation – your organization employs some of the best and brightest in this industry and its so important that we understand, and more importantly see, that the best and brightest are not all white hetero males. Thank you!
- The greatest strength of the conference is hearing updates from industry leaders and networking with colleagues.