Dec. 6 Edition

As a city discusses housing regulations, homelessness persists in Logan
(The Logan Daily News)- The Logan Daily News reported that last week’s Logan City Council meeting featured a discussion on housing regulation in the city. About a dozen landlords turned out to speak before council on a proposed ordinance regarding rental registration and inspection fees, which, if passed, would require landlords to pay a $125 non-refundable fee per each registered rental unit to cover costs of registration, inspections and more. In June, nearby Athens passed an ordinance “to prevent landlords from discriminating against potential renters on the basis of income.” The legislation also included a $150 fine for the offense and “other housing discrimination violations,” according to an Athens News report.

Democrats see Christmas goal slipping away
(The Hill) – The goal for Democrats was to pass President Biden’s sweeping climate and social spending package by Christmas, but that is slipping away as the Senate bogs down in one time-consuming fight after another. Democratic senators are growing increasingly doubtful that Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) will be able to meet his Christmas deadline because several major disagreements are holding up the Build Back Better Act, including a fight over lifting the cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions.

Congress set aside $800 million to help homeless students. Months later, many schools are still waiting for aid.
(Chalkbeat) – Congress set aside $800 million in COVID relief money in March to help students experiencing homelessness. The first $200 million reached states within six weeks, and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona urged state officials to deploy that aid quickly to meet the needs of homeless students. Many states, including Ohio, passed money along to schools over the summer. But in several states, most schools are still waiting to see the first dollar of these funds due to red tape and a lack of urgency from state lawmakers or officials, according to a Chalkbeat investigation.

The US Government Making Changes in Rent Relief? Will You Be Affected?
(The East Country Gazette) – The US Department of Treasury will begin moving rental assistance among state and local aid distributors in order to make sure it gets into the hands of struggling renters and their landlords. “Over 2.5 million households have been helped by emergency rental assistance,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “With back rent paid, these families have a clean slate and some housing stability to help get through the next wave of the pandemic. But many struggling renters have yet to receive assistance, through no fault of their own, and remain at risk of losing their home this winter.”

Finding affordable housing is a struggle for Afghans arriving in the US ahead of winter, advocates say
CINCINNATI (WCPO) – Housing, or the lack of it, is a problem many communities face year-round, but winter is when there is more of a focus on the issue as the temperatures drop. Finding housing is proving to be a challenge for many Afghan families now in the United States who fled their home country this year as the Taliban took over, and advocates worry not enough will be done to make sure they aren’t left out in the cold. Right now, 25,000 Afghan refugees are just a couple of months into starting new lives in the United States.

States, cities running out of rental assistance monies
(AP) – Several large states and cities have exhausted their federal rental assistance, the Treasury Department said Monday, in a sign that spending on a massive program aimed at averting evictions has picked up speed. The federal government is forecasting that upwards of $30 billion or about two-thirds of money allocated for rental assistance will be disbursed or allocated by the end of the year. That is a dramatic change from this summer when housing advocates were complaining about the slow pace of distribution.

HUD GOT $9 BILLION TO COMBAT COVID-19 IMPACTS. ONLY A QUARTER HAS BEEN SPENT.
(The Center of Public Integrity)- Tucked in the massive pandemic relief act in March 2020 was about $9 billion for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to divvy up between cities and states for housing-related coronavirus fallout. The funds could be used on rental assistance for tenants struggling to pay their landlords, housing homeless people in safe, sanitary rooms rather than in crowded shelters and the creation of pop-up COVID-19 testing sites and hospital overflow facilities, among many other uses. Twenty months later, only about a quarter of that money has been spent.

Your Morning Matters: Looking at homelessness in the Valley from a different angle
(Mahoning Matters) – As of the most recent homeless count last year, Ohio had an estimated homeless population of 10,000 — including 100 in the Mahoning Valley — nearly one-fifth of whom were younger than 18. As it stands, there’s only one local shelter that accommodates LGBTQIA+ youth and no inclusive shelters for adults, advocates say. One of the Valley’s largest shelters separates residents “as God made them,” operators told us. Full Spectrum Community Outreach is looking to establish its own shelter catering to LGBTQIA+ people facing housing insecurity, but it needs about five times the money it’s raised so far.

Project Hope for the Homeless keeps going strong through COVID-19 pandemic
LAKE COUNTY (The News-Herald) – Many of the guests who have stayed at Project Hope for the Homeless throughout the coronavirus crisis seem to be burdened by increased stress. That’s according to Judy Burr, executive director of Project Hope for the Homeless. “I think with our population (homeless people), they were already under stress, and having the coping mechanisms to work through (challenges posed by COVID-19) is a struggle,” Burr said. “But we’re still experiencing a very high positive-transition rate of nearly 80 percent right now. And it’s been even higher when it’s the whole year. Last year it was 86 percent.”

Loveland teen launches blanket drive for Cincinnati’s homeless at age 12, raises $11,000 and distributes 1100 Blankets over 5 Years
LOVELAND (Loveland Magazine) – At just 12 years old, Gianpaolo Scheve launched his own organization to raise money to purchase blankets for Greater Cincinnati’s homeless as well as collect used blankets. Now 17, Cincerely Blankets is rounding out its 5th year and endeavors to raise $5,000 and donate more than 500 blankets this year alone.


Nov. 29 Edition

Tri-State’s low-income families struggle to find housing, even with Section 8 vouchers
(CINCINNATI) WCPO – Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio has seen a dramatic increase in calls from people who have Section 8 vouchers but can’t find a landlord that will take them and Bethany House Services, the region’s largest family homeless shelter, is struggling more than ever to find housing for families in shelter, even when those families have vouchers to help pay the rent.

Northwest Ohio non-profits seeing increase in first-time need
(TOLEDO) WTOL – Northwest Ohio non-profit organizations are experiencing increases in people asking for first-time assistance this year. “We really just want to make sure that people have access to what they need,” says Jill Bunge, outreach coordinator for The United Way of Greater Toledo. Bunge says the 211 hotline averages about 4,000 calls a month, but in the past 90 days, 15,700 calls for assistance have come in. That’s about 1,200 more a month than normal.

‘Affordable’ housing complex to target service workers
(CINCINNATI) WCPO – Organizers say their goals are to widen access to housing and foster diversity and inclusion in the Central Business District. To be eligible, households have to make 60% of the area median income or less. “For years, the Central Business District has been a neighborhood designated by HOME, Housing Opportunities Made Equal – as an integrated neighborhood,” said Mary B. Rivers, the executive director of Over-The-Rhine Community Housing. “But over the last two decades, we’ve lost a lot of that diversity in the neighborhood. This will be the first step into getting that back.”

Clinton County Coalition on Homelessness’ strategic action plan is coming together
(WILMINGTON) News Journal — A local “Coordinated Community Plan to Prevent & End Homelessness” may focus more on what’s called transitional housing than on more emergency shelter beds. Transitional housing is time-limited residential opportunities — six months to two years — and as such it is differentiated from what’s known as emergency shelter which by design is meant to be very time-limited, said homelessness consultant Tom Albanese. Participants of the Clinton County Coalition on Homelessness recognize a need for more transitional housing options around here, he said.

$300 million for nursing homes is a head scratcher
(Ohio Capital Journal) – The suggested unrestricted funding for nursing homes in House Bill 461 of $300 million, over a third of what Ohio has remaining to spend from the American Rescue Act, seems very high. Additionally, much has been made in the media about the fact that the bill does not direct funding toward specific programs to combat COVID-19 or provide additional specific health supports for residents. In a world where we are moving more toward cheaper, higher-quality options for seniors to spend more of their lives in their homes rather than facilities, a large, lump-sum grant of unrestricted funding to facilities that do the opposite of this seems like a strange choice.

‘Hunger is growing’ as resources tighten throughout area
(Journal-News) – Hunger during the COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t a big problem in Butler County until recently. But with pandemic benefits disappearing, the number of families needing food assistance has climbed steadily in recent months. Meanwhile, the number of available beds to provide emergency shelter to the homeless also is sufficient. But there’s a problem with that, too, officials say: People who are stabilizing themselves so they can live independently after homelessness are having trouble in the county finding affordable places to live.

Toledo law group receives $1 million grant from HUD to help provide legal assistance to at-risk tenants
TOLEDO (WTOL11)— A Toledo law firm that provides legal advocacy for low-income individuals and groups is receiving a $1,000,000 grant as part of a new Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program. Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE) will receive the grant to help provide legal assistance to tenants at risk of eviction. The grant will also help the Advocates for Basic Legal Equality to expand assistance into rural areas in seven surrounding counties, according to Sen. Sherrod Brown.

What can Mount Vernon learn from Mansfield’s approach to remedying year-round homelessness?
MOUNT VERNON – (Knoxpages) The Winter Sanctuary opened in 2008 as Knox County’s first emergency homeless shelter. Still, the shelter is only open Nov. 1 through April 1. Springer said the non-profit organization’s leadership is currently “assessing the need for a year-round shelter.” A quick glance to the north might provide some answers: Mansfield has had a year-round homeless shelter for more than three decades, Harmony House.

Build Back Better: $170 Billion Allocated Into Better Housing for Americans
(The East County Gazette) The $1.75 trillion Build Back Better Act has been passed by the House Democrats on Friday. Approximately $170 billion of the legislation is allocated to affordable housing provisions. Some worry that the housing aspect of the bill might be reduced if changes are made as it is up to the Senate now.

Theodore Decker: Not everyone sharing in excitement of Columbus’ hot housing market
(Columbus Dispatch) – The turf may look greener on this side of the fence, but earlier this month came a reminder that the housing picture in Greater Columbus isn’t being celebrated by everyone. With winter approaching, Black community leaders issued a joint warning that affordable housing remains desperately needed. “This is a health care crisis,” U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty, a Gahanna-area Democrat, said during an event at Trinity Baptist Church on the city’s Near East Side. “This is a social justice crisis.”

Cleveland housing agency builds dozens of homes in West Side neighborhoods, aimed at giving low-income residents chance to own
(Cleveland.com) – The Leaks are one of 60 low-income families that CHN Housing Partners has or plans to move into homes it is building on scattered sites in the Detroit-Shoreway and Cudell neighborhoods as part of a new iteration of a long-standing program that gives the tenants the chance to buy at a reduced price…. The goal is to provide opportunities for low-income families – most of the program’s participants are Black single mothers – to live in a new house, with all the modern amenities that come with it. Rents are designed to be affordable for low-income families ($700-$710 for a house). It also gives the chance for these renters to become homeowners and includes financial counseling services during the time prior to potentially purchasing.


Nov 22. Edition

So far, little fraud evident in rental assistance programs
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — In the eight months since California’s rental assistance program began, fraud has been virtually nonexistent. The Department of Housing and Community Development has identified 1,800 fraudulent rental assistance applications out of nearly 500,000 statewide — 0.0036% — and none was paid. Geoff Ross, the agency’s deputy director, said it was “mindful” of California’s unemployment benefits debacle that has become the most expensive government fraud case in state history.

As Renter Protections End, Emergency Rental Assistance Is Critical. Why Haven’t More Landlords and Tenants Applied for It?
(Urban Institute) In the February 2021 survey, we found just over 30 percent of tenants and 48 percent of landlords were aware of the ERA. This number increased in the May survey, and we saw an even larger jump in the September survey (particularly among landlords), with 78 percent now aware of the assistance.

‘I’ve looked everywhere’: Ohio mother struggles to find rental that accepts HUD vouchers
WESTERVILLE (WBNS) — The affordable housing crisis presses on in central Ohio.
A housing assistance voucher could be life-changing, but for many families, there’s nowhere to use it. One source of help is a voucher program funded by the federal government. But right now in Franklin County, 15,000 people are waiting for one.

From sleeping in a car to staying at a hotel, family saw how homeless shelter system is maxed out
CINCINNATI (WCPO) – It got colder as Perez struggled to find a place to stay. Every day for weeks, she said, she called the CAP Line, a hotline for people who are homeless and seeking help. But Hamilton County’s family shelter providers had no room for her and her sons, who are 11, 10 and 1 year old.

Unison Health focusing on meeting basic needs to ensure homelessness doesn’t last
TOLEDO (WTOL) – According to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, as of January 2020, an estimated 10,655 Ohioans experience homelessness on any given day. Local agencies like Cherry Street Mission and Unison Health found that number has only gone up due to the pandemic. Unison Health’s Housing First program prioritizes housing for those struggling with homelessness by working to meet basic needs first. The belief is that this model sets clients up for future success.

Racial Equity in Infrastructure, a U.S. Goal, Is Left to States
WASHINGTON (New York Times) — President Biden’s $1 trillion plan to rebuild America’s infrastructure comes with a built-in promise: No longer will roads, bridges and railways be instruments of bias or racism. Communities that ended up divided along racial lines will be made whole. But the decision about how to spend the money falls largely to the states, not all of which are likely to put as high a priority on that promise as Mr. Biden does, raising questions about whether the legislation will deliver on his goal.

Developers voice concerns over Columbus’ proposed revisions for affordable housing incentives
(Columbus Business First) Some developers say they have concerns about the city’s proposed new affordable housing incentives, saying they could impact current projects and drive up market rent rates. At a meeting hosted by the Urban Land Institute and the city of Columbus, developers expressed concerns about the city’s recommended changes to the community reinvestment area (CRA) tax abatement policy. The city is working with consultant Vogt Strategic Insights to determine how best to “right-size” and update its community reinvestment area residential tax abatement policy based on current rents. The city reviews the policy every three years.

Ribbon cut on first-of-its-kind affordable housing project in Price Hill
CINCINNATI (WXIX) – The long-awaited renovation of a Price Hill high-rise is officially complete, offering almost 200 units of quality, affordable housing to Cincinnati families. Officials cut the ribbon on The Pinecrest Apartments on Wednesday. The nine-story, 190-unit complex hadn’t been updated since it was build more than 40 years ago… CMHA says Pinecrest is the first of many renovation projects to come. According to a CityBeat report, CMHA would eventually like all its 5,000 units to be included in the RAD program.

This tribe helped the Pilgrims survive for their first Thanksgiving. They still regret it 400 years later.
PLYMOUTH, Mass. (Washington Post) — Long marginalized and misrepresented in the American story, the Wampanoags are braced for what’s coming this month as the country marks the 400th anniversary of the first Thanksgiving between the Pilgrims and Indians. But the actual history of what happened in 1621 bears little resemblance to what most Americans are taught in grade school, historians say. There was likely no turkey served. There were no feathered headdresses worn. And, initially, there was no effort by the Pilgrims to invite the Wampanoags to the feast they’d made possible.


Nov. 15 Edition

States, cities face deadline for proving how quickly they’ve helped renters in crisis
States, cities and counties that excelled at distributing emergency federal aid to renters struggling during the pandemic may soon be rewarded — with yet more cash. Their new funding would be drawn from sluggish states and localities that didn’t move as swiftly to help people facing eviction and homelessness, who were targeted for billions in assistance in relief legislation passed by Congress. The process for sorting out which states and cities may receive more federal rental aid money and which may see reductions begins Monday.

Higher costs to heat your home this winter, supply chain and rising oil prices to blame
As heating prices soar it’s expected to hurt low-income households in particular. “There’s an awful lot of people already living on the edge already so if it’s a bigger utility bill sometimes that means they’re not going to be able to make rent and people are getting evicted,” Marcus Roth, with Coalition on Homelessness & Housing in Ohio, said.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown: expect Democratic ‘Build Back Better’ social spending plan to pass by Thanksgiving
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown said Friday he anticipates that Congress will pass a Democratic $1.75 trillion “Build Back Better” social spending bill before Thanksgiving that includes, among other things, funding for universal free preschool and an extended child tax credit. Brown said that universal pre-K, combined with the child tax credit extension, would mean that more than 90% of Ohio families with children under 18 would see at least a $3,000-per-year tax cut.

Black leaders say more money needs to be spent on affordable housing in Greater Columbus
Despite many efforts — such as Columbus’ $50 million bond package for affordable housing, Mayor Andrew J. Ginther appointing the city’s first assistant director of housing strategies in May, and the work of groups such as the Affordable Housing Alliance of Central Ohio — Black leaders from various organizations on Thursday said numbers indicate the problem of the lack of affordable housing is worsening.

What can ARPA buy? Transformational housing for a more just future: Kevin Nowak, Tania Menesse and Mark McDermott
CHN Housing Partners, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, and Enterprise Community Partners recommend strategically deploying funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to develop a continuum to address deeply rooted housing problems, from filling immediate crisis needs to supporting short-term stability and long-term economic mobility.

US rent hikes are spreading to older apartments
Class B buildings are generally older and more affordable. The rents are usually less volatile than for Class A apartments, whose rental prices collapsed in many urban areas last year as dwellers deserted city centers at the onset of the pandemic — and have since bounced back. The new trend is making it tougher for lower-income households to afford their rents, and signals that the housing market is becoming even hotter. Renters who are priced out of more expensive apartments or homes are moving to Class B communities.

National Coalition for the Homeless Opening First-Ever Field Office in Cleveland
In a press release, the National Coalition for the Homeless said it selected Cleveland for its first field office because the city has been among the five poorest in the country for the past 20 years but has been home to some of the most innovative approaches in the battle against homelessness. Cleveland has scored “historic [legal] victories with national implications” in the areas of voting, panhandling and preventing sweeps.

East Akron residents form tenant unions, demand changes for low-income housing
Raymond Greene, the executive director of Freedom BLOC, said his organization got involved with apartment residents to fight for those who are unheard. Greene said residents at both Ericsson and the nearby Wilbeth Arlington Homes have voiced concerns about rodents, broken windows and other unsafe or unhealthy living conditions. Freedom BLOC helped people living in both complexes organize tenant unions to push for change.

Housing First helps Toledo homeless find stability
The Housing First program has a 96% success rate in getting and keeping people who have struggled with homelessness in permanent housing. The goal of this program that is funded by the Lucas County Homelessness Board is to provide people with a stable place to live so they can move beyond worrying about where they are going to sleep and eat and focus on treatment for mental health and substance abuse issues.

Minor Defendants: Kids Are Being Named in Evictions
Absurd as that may sound, it’s not a fluke. Minor children are sometimes named in eviction filings. When it happens, the damage is acute and difficult to repair even if it’s caught quickly. If a child’s name makes in onto official court records, especially if those records are public and online, the damage can be irreversible.

Universal Section 8 and Fair Housing enforcement: A formula for housing stability for America’s renters
President Biden pledged to make Section 8 universal, and his FY 2022 budget called for $5.4 billion for an expansion of vouchers. We urge Congress to include the Section 8 expansion in its FY 2022 appropriations legislation. Furthermore, to meet his goal of “building back better,” and enact true systems change, President Biden must fight for Section 8 expansion and push Congress to pass accompanying legislation codifying the protection of non-wage forms of income for rent payment.

Ayonna Blue Donald Named Vice President, Ohio Market Leader
Enterprise Community Partners (Enterprise) today named Ayonna Blue Donald as its new vice president and Ohio market leader, effective November 29. A longtime public servant for the city of Cleveland, Donald served as director of the city’s Department of Building and Housing from 2017 to 2021 and most recently served as the chief of Commercial Services and Governmental Affairs for the Department of Port Control.

Federal lawmakers in both parties seek to redress veteran homelessness
In March, Sens. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, and Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, introduced the Improving Housing Outcomes for Veterans Act. The proposed legislation also would require the VA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to improve coordination between the agencies’ homelessness programs, and would direct the VA to provide training to community groups serving homeless veterans.