Since 2016 there has been talk buzzing around that SOAR Ohio would be ending. As the SOAR Ohio State Lead with COHHIO, please let me announce for clarification, that has never been the case for our SOAR Ohio Project.
For over 10 years COHHIO has been funding agencies to do the much needed and important work with SOAR that connects Ohioans experiencing homelessness with disabilities to the SSI/SSDI benefits they need to gain stability and independence. Budget cuts, policy changes, and funding sources drying up have threatened our ability to continue funding dedicated SOAR specialists at local agencies into the future. However, COHHIO has no intention of ending the SOAR Ohio Project or ceasing to provide the training and technical support necessary to continue developing new partnerships and supporting the many SOAR specialists around the state.
I would also like to take this time to announce that the SOAR Ohio Project will continue to keep SOARing in Ohio for SFY 2019. Thanks to the Ohio Department of Medicaid for approving a $700,000 grant that is dedicated to the SOAR Ohio Project agencies, specialists can continue utilizing this amazing methodology throughout our state. The partnership we’ve established with ODM’s Money Follows the Person and HOMEChoice staff over these past several years has provided great support and access to main stream benefits for some of the most vulnerable Ohioans.
I’d also like to thank several of our partners who helped focus more attention on SOAR and special populations during our Housing Ohio 2018 conference last month.
It was such a privilege to have Dazara Ware, our national SOAR T.A., to present at our conference on two special population groups, along with two of the funded SOAR Ohio specialists, Laurie Casati and Sherry McGlown. We were also joined by one of the funded agency supervisors, Darlynn Nero, who was previously the first Supervisor of the Ohio DDS Expedited Homeless Unit prior to retirement from the state of Ohio.
Having so many SOAR experts in the room and addressing the needs and service provision of Veterans and Criminal Justice Involved Persons experiencing homelessness was an invaluable opportunity for SOAR Ohio to help grow our program.
I look forward to advancing our partnerships with ODM and other state agencies, the national SOAR program, and local SOAR Ohio Project agencies to help some of Ohio’s most challenged individuals access safe, stable housing and achieve greater independence!
Amy Lamerson, MSW
SOAR Ohio Project Manager
SOAR State Lead, Ohio