Jun 4, 2024 - News

Cleveland greenlights $2 million to end unsheltered homelessness

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Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Cleveland City Council on Monday approved an ordinance authorizing $2 million for a city initiative targeting unsheltered homelessness.

Why it matters: Roughly 150 people sleep on Cleveland's streets every night and face heightened mental and physical health risks, per the city.

  • The visibility of homelessness has increased in recent years as Irishtown Bend — historically a popular encampment — has been cleared for hillside stabilization and Cleveland Hopkins International Airport has cracked down on "loitering."

Catch up quick: The city issued a request for proposals in February for its "Home for Every Neighbor" program, which seeks to house 150 people by the end of the calendar year.

  • Of the seven proposals the city received, none demonstrated the full breadth and local capacity to complete the work.

What happened: Clutch Consulting Group, a Houston-based firm that has designed successful "housing-first" homeless reduction plans in Houston, Dallas and New Orleans, submitted a response to the RFP after the deadline.

  • It will manage the program alongside Cleveland Mediation Center, a local nonprofit that will administer a "flex fund" for housing placements.

How it works: The program will seek to place unsheltered people in housing that suits their specific needs.

  • Program partners are actively engaging private landlords to secure units across the region.

What's next: The goal is to start street outreach by July 1 and to place 150 people in housing as soon as possible, ideally by the end of October.

  • Those who are housed will then receive 12 months of wraparound services, including medical, legal and employment assistance.

What they're saying: "It's not just about moving people into housing," Clutch Consulting's Matt White told Cleveland City Council on Monday.

  • "It's about rebuilding their lives through connections, employment, community resources, and social support."

Between the lines: Council was overwhelmingly in support of the legislation, though some, including Brian Kazy and Kris Harsh, said this work really should be left to the county.

  • Cuyahoga County funds the regional homeless "continuum of care" though the health and human services levy.

The bottom line: Emily Collins, Mayor Bibb's senior adviser on homelessness, said the county will be an essential partner but that its resources are devoted foremost to the 90% of the homeless population who rely on the shelter system.

  • The Home for Every Neighbor Program is specifically designed for the 10% who don't.
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