COHHIO, with the help of our national allies, has been monitoring the flurry of recent activity in Washington that herald dramatic and alarming changes on homelessness and housing issues in Ohio.

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson appears on track to be confirmed as the nation’s next secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, one of the federal government’s most complex agencies. While Mr. Carson has no prior government experience, no expertise in housing, and has expressed disdain for programs that assist the nation’s most vulnerable citizens, we are pleased that he is planning to do a “listening tour” to gather feedback from people who are actually administering housing programs at the local level. Similarly, we are encouraged by his stated belief that “government is important” and that there is a “nexus between medicine and housing.”

Meanwhile, the Trump Administration has prioritized the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which greatly expanded Medicaid coverage for 700,000 Ohioans who are struggling to survive on very low incomes. One idea that is apparently percolating within the new leadership is to transform the entitlement into a block grant program. This could rescind health care coverage for many people experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity in Ohio.

Other federal developments that could severely hamper efforts to end homelessness in Ohio include the potential for eliminating all non-defense discretionary spending in the upcoming budget, and executive orders that would roll back progress on immigration, civil rights, health care and other safety net programs.

Fortunately, a powerful movement that is willing resist these disastrous policies is already emerging, as evidenced in last weekend’s Women’s March on Washington. COHHIO is ready to stand with our national partners to defend the policies that have worked to protect the most vulnerable Ohioans and lift them out of poverty.

More information:

Why Block Granting and Other Changes to Medicaid Will Cut Out People in Need – National Alliance to End Homelessness

Point of View: Marching Forward – National Low Income Housing Coalition President Diane Yentel