We’ve received a lot of calls recently from legislators and their staffers asking for guidance to respond to homeless constituents seeking assistance. We connect them to local homeless services, but legislators often find out that there are long waits for housing assistance in in their districts. Need is increasing, and housing resources are lacking.
We’re happy to assist legislators who are trying to do something to help homeless constituents when they call or show up in their office. But we’re also telling them that they can do more than just help that individual; they have the power to make systemic change to address the underlying problem.
Unfortunately, homeless and housing issues were overlooked when the governor introduced his budget earlier this spring. That’s why we’re calling on the legislature to expand the Ohio Housing Trust Fund, the primary state source of homeless and affordable housing services.
The budget recently passed the House without a Housing Trust Fund amendment, but we’re hopeful that the Senate will fix that when they revise the two-year spending plan soon. This recent Akron-Beacon Journal editorial summarizes the issue nicely. We have strong support from several influential senators for a Housing Trust Fund expansion, but legislators need to hear that their constituents want action on this issue if it’s going to pass.
So now is a good time to call your state senator and ask them to support an amendment to expand the Ohio Housing Trust Fund in the biennial budget (HB 166).
We’ve found the most effective way to change minds is to take policymakers out to see effective homeless and housing programs for themselves. It’s a lot easier to vote for something in the budget when you’ve met real people whose lives have been transformed by the programs it funds.
We know these direct contacts make the difference because the biggest supporters we have in the Senate have seen first-hand the organizations in their districts that are working to make home a reality for their most vulnerable constituents. That’s why we’ve been helping coordinate tours of housing programs for legislators and cabinet members. If you would like to help organize a tour in your area – please let us know.
While we have a good story to tell policymakers about reducing Ohio’s rates of chronic and veterans’ homelessness, the growing affordable housing shortage is pushing more families with children into homelessness. Comprehensive data from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency recently found a sharp increase in children driving the total homeless population higher to over 70,000. Nearly one-third are now children, including nearly 3,000 babies under age one.
Given the enormous gap between rising rents and incomes among low-wage workers, this problem will continue to get worse unless we get more funding into effective interventions and permanent housing solutions. Currently, most of the public resources come from the federal government. But the state can do a lot more to get at-risk children and families back into safe, decent affordable housing, and the Housing Trust Fund is the way to do it.
We’re also working with the DeWine Administration on a proposal to allocate a portion of Ohio’s federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families funding for local rapid rehousing efforts. The Homeless Families Assistance Program is a great opportunity for the governor to do something to specifically target the population that the governor has prioritized – vulnerable young children.
On the federal level, there have been some positive developments lately. The House Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees HUD’s budget released it’s draft FY 2020 spending bill that would boost spending on affordable housing and homeless programs by at least $5.9 billion, and rejects the administration’s harmful policy proposals. Our friends at the National Low Income Housing Coalition have all the details. There’s still a long way to go, but the budget is off to a good start.
So stay tuned for updates about it by supporting a stronger HUD budget and an expansion of the Ohio Housing Trust Fund. And don’t forget – the National Housing Week of Action (May 30 – June 5) is a great time to speak out about the need for more affordable housing in Ohio!
Thanks for helping house Ohio,
Expand the Ohio Housing Trust Fund!
COHHIO, and other members of the Home Matters to Ohio coalition, called on the Ohio Senate this week to expand the Ohio Housing Trust Fund in the biennial budget (HB 166) currently under discussion in the Statehouse.
Advocacy Director Gina Wilt and Ohio CDC Association Executive Director Nate Coffman told senators that the Ohio Housing Trust Fund hasn’t seen an increase since 2003, when the fee was created. “Unfortunately, as the need has increased, the number of state dollars available to serve these families has dramatically decreased,” Wilt said. Click here to read more about the OHTF campaign.
Opportunity Starts at Home – Week of Action
A U.S. House committee recently passed a robust housing and homeless service spending bill thanks to the leadership of House Subcommittee Chair David Price (D-NC) and Ranking Member Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), this was a clear bi-partisan rejection of President Trump’s adverse position on affordable housing investments and policy.
Let’s continue spreading this positive energy through the Opportunity Starts at Home Week of Action which will be May 30 to June 5. The timing actually seems to line up with federal budget conversations and we want housing to be front and center. We know that if we focus on putting housing first and making sure every child has a safe place to put their head at night, then everything else we work on will be more effective. Click here to read more.
HUD Moves to Evict Children, Allow LGBTQ Discrimination
The Trump Administration continues its efforts to punish vulnerable children of immigrants and roll back regulations that prevent discrimination, this time through new rules at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
HUD recently proposed new rules that would to evict “mixed status” families that include citizens and undocumented immigrants from public and subsidized housing. The proposal could force over 100,000 people – including over 50,000 children who are US citizens or legal permanent residents – out of housing and into the streets. Click here to read more.
Payday Lending – the Saga Continues…
Borrowers beware! The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau continues to undermine consumer protections that are the core of the agency’s mission and reason for existence. This time, the agency proposes to Click here to read more.
Homelessness is Expensive
Homelessness is expensive. To some people it seems like a contradiction. To others it’s just obvious – living on the land takes a huge toll on the mind and body. It also takes a big toll on other publicly funded services – Medicaid, hospitals, schools, child welfare, jails, etc.
These cost issues are often the most effective point to make when trying to persuade policymakers who are reluctant to spend the funding needed to combat homelessness. That’s why we reviewed the research and summarized it all in this Homelessness is Expensive one-pager.
Housing Ohio 2019 Conference Followup
Thank you to everyone who was part of our 25th anniversary conference this spring. We had a grand total of 612 guests – another record for the Housing Ohio conference! This reassures us that we made the right decision to move to a larger venue next year, although we will greatly miss our friends at the Sheraton.
Most of the speakers’ presentations and handouts are now available to download from our website on the Conference Materials page.
Southeast Ohio YHDP Update
Southeast Ohio Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP) projects began in December 2018, and in the months since have significantly ramped up operations. Since implementation, the new YHDP street outreach project has served over 60 individuals and the new Rapid Re-housing (RRH) project has assisted nearly 40 youth households in the five-county region of Southeast Ohio. Click here to read more.
Coming Soon: R minor
The HMIS team at COHHIO will release its new reporting system called R minor this spring. Using data from the Ohio Balance of State HMIS, R minor will make it possible to easily and elegantly share data with the public. Click here to read more.
Spring News Clips
Homelessness and the affordable housing shortage – and the potential for policymakers to actually do something about these problems – have appeared in the news a lot lately. Click here to read more.
OHTF Statehouse Build
Team COHHIO donned hardhats and spent May Day with Habitat for Humanity building a home on the Statehouse lawn – a great place to spotlight the need to do more to address Ohio’s growing shortage of affordable housing. Click here to read more.
Welcome COHHIO Law Clerks
COHHIO is pleased to introduce two new law students to the 2019-2020 Housing Law Internship Program! Click here to read more.
In Other Developments – Spring 2019
The Ohio Housing Finance Agency Board recently announced over $28.5 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credit awards for 2019, which are used to fund the construction, acquisition and rehabilitation of affordable housing communities throughout Ohio. Click here to read more.
Spring Training Bulletin: Racial Equity, VAWA, Ohio Votes
COHHIO invites you to join us for a full-day Racial Equity training. COHHIO, with the support of Ohio Mental Health & Addiction Services, has contracted with C4 Innovations (formerly Center for Social Innovation) to facilitate two full-day trainings to cover issues related to racism and homelessness. The institutes will serve as a first step for Ohio to begin addressing racial inequity in the homeless system. Click here to read more.
Workers’ Comp News
As a reminder, your organization could receive huge discounts on workers’ compensation costs by joining our group rating program. Last year COHHIO member agencies saved a combined total of $244,866, with an average savings of $6,121 each. Click here to read more.
For more information about COHHIO, visit our website and check out our Facebook page and Twitter feed. To support COHHIO’s ongoing efforts to end homelessness in Ohio, become a member and get a discount on our April conference!