Thursday, April 23, 2009

Qualls presents Homeless to Homes plan to council

Cincinnati City Councilmember Roxanne Qualls presented a comprehensive report (PDF) detailing plans to help move homeless people to housing at council's meeting yesterday.

Homelessness to Homes, prepared by the Cincinnati-Hamilton County Continuum of Care for the Homeless, recommends changes to the emergency shelter system, more transitional and permanent housing options, and better cooperation among funders.

The report is the result of an October 2008 council motion seeking to develop a "blank slate" approach to homelessness that adressed, from the ground up, problems that homeless individuals face such as mental and physical health problems, addictions, lack of education, and other barriers to employment and housing.

A steering committee, chaired by United Way president for community impact Barbara Terry, worked with representatives from human service agencies, local foundations and funders, the faith community, and business leaders.

"The task we gave to the Continuum and those who helped develop this plan was not easy," Qualls says. "Cincinnati has struggled for years to provide adequate shelter for homeless individuals. Our trust and confidence in the Continuum's compassion, expertise and diligence is reflected in this report."

Kevin Finn, executive director for the Continuum, says that he believes the plan brings the community together around "real issues and real solutions" to end homelessness for individuals in Cincinnati.

Over then next three to five years, the 109-page report recommends:

  • A higher level of service system-wide to move individuals out of homelessness quickly
  • An ambitious increase in transitional and permanent supportive housing, with a workable strategy for its development
  • Targeted services, specific to the individual's gender, age, or special needs, with reduced reliance on emergency shelter
  • Clear accountabilities of and actions for social services agencies, the business community, local government, funders, and homeless people alike for the good of those who are homeless and the whole community
"The tremendous time and the scope of knowledge and experience dedicated by over 70 people in the past six months to produce this plan has been incredible, and sets the stage to create a world-class system of providing homeless services and facilities in a way that integrates well in our neighborhoods," says Peg Moertl, chair of the Continuum's board of directors.

The next step is the passage of a council ordinance establishing a transition team that will prioritize, then help implement, the report's recommendations.

"Far too many people in Cincinnati are homeless," says mayor Mark Mallory. "As we continue to see progress in our city, we must ensure that everyone benefits from that progress. Now that we have the report, it is time to get to work and produce positive change."

Jennifer O'Donnell, aide to Councilmember Qualls; and Jason Barron, Office of the Mayor, contributed.

Previous reading on BC:
Second community forum for 'Homeless to Homes' this Wednesday (2/23/09)
New plan to help homeless find homes (10/16/08)


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