Bibb Announces $2 Million in Funding to House Homeless

The Home For Every Neighbor program aims to house 150 people by 2025

click to enlarge Superior Avenue, in Downtown Cleveland, has been host to the increasing visibility of the city's homeless population post-pandemic. - Mark Oprea
Mark Oprea
Superior Avenue, in Downtown Cleveland, has been host to the increasing visibility of the city's homeless population post-pandemic.
Send out more outreach teams on the streets of Cleveland. Incentivize landlords to take Section 8 vouchers. Build more no-frills housing with affordable rates.

These are some of City Hall's ideas to tackle the sweeping issue of homelessness across Cleveland, as announced in Mayor Justin Bibb's presentation on the matter Friday morning.

Bibb, flanked by County Executive Chris Ronayne, along with shelter operators and housing-specialist advisors, framed what he's calling the Home For Every Neighbor program as the city's comprehensive offensive on what's typically tackled by volunteers and private nonprofits.

Such an "aggressive, more focused and targeted approach" to handle what truly is a ground issue, Bibb said, aspires to reach big goals by mid-2025: to have rehoused at least 150 homeless residents.

"And in Cleveland, what excites me about this issue is that it’s a solvable problem. It’s a solvable problem," he told press Friday morning. "We want to make sure we can nip this issue in the bud before it becomes more systemic."

The $2 million, a portion of which will fund a study on how other cities have successfully tackled the issue, follows city and county investments in recent months.
In January, Cleveland allocated roughly a quarter million to bolster seasonal shelters. And in early February, the county announced a $3.9 million federal grant that will be funneled to a half dozen outreach organizations focused on ending youth homelessness.

But, as critics to top-down approaches say, the city will have to essentially pick and train the right boots on the ground to influence the unhoused into going through what can be strict, and intimidating, pathways to stable housing.

By studying what's worked elsewhere—like in Houston, Dallas, Denver and St. Paul—the eventual Home For Every Neighbor plan, Bibb's presentation revealed on Friday, echoes the county's own five-year Strategic Plan before it: funding and sending out outreach teams to walk the streets, especially during blizzards, to direct the unhoused to shelters.

Then, it becomes a housing issue. Landlords would get perks to house those coming from temporary beds. Developers would be incentivized to build a minimum percentage—to be named—of non-market rate apartment units. A 25-unit "Safe Haven" home, without steep barriers to entry, would be built on city property to add to the overall stock.

Chris Knestrick, the executive director of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, said that the clear linkage between the county and city's plan gives him hope that NEOCH's lobbying, and occasional criticism, of the city's staid approach to getting the unhoused housed is promising.

"And I think internally we're pretty excited," he told Scene on Friday. "I think it's been years of asking government, the city and county step up, and we're very happy."

City Hall plans to hire a strategic consultant to grow its homelessness initiative by May 1. RFPs are due to the city by March 25.
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Mark Oprea

Mark Oprea is a staff writer at Scene. For the past seven years, he's covered Cleveland as a freelance journalist, and has contributed to TIME, NPR, the Pacific Standard and the Cleveland Magazine. He's the winner of two Press Club awards.
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