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Seeing Potential Solutions to Chronic Homelessness

Thursday, February 13, 2014 at 5:02 PM

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It isn’t clear how many homeless there are in Ohio. Counts are hard to come by, and often count different things when they are done. The coalition on homeless and housing in Ohio, or COHHIO, sees potential in programs to deal with the chronically homeless, though. Ideastream's Tony Ganzer speaks about the issue with Bill Faith, executive director of COHHIO.

It isn’t clear how many homeless there are in Ohio.  Counts are hard to come by, and often count different things when they are done.  According to a report from the coalition on homeless and housing in Ohio, or COHHIO, there are about 12,300 hundred homeless in Ohio on a given night.  That report said more than 2,000 of those people were in Cuyahoga County. 

By another count, there are 5,600 people who experience homelessness in Cuyahoga County in any given year. 20 percent of those are chronically homeless, stuck in a cycle from which they can’t escape. 

Bill Faith, executive director of COHHIO, says that programs targeting the chronic homeless make sense because those groups use the most resources, and need the most resources.  And ultimately society is paying for the problem anyway.

Focusing on giving housing to chronically homeless folks is a reasonable and proven tactic, Faith says.  He says it gives people a stable environment, and that can play into giving them stability in other aspects too.  And the number of people who need this kind of help is manageable.

Bill Faith with COHHIO says initiatives targeting the chronically homeless are catching on in many larger cities, but there are two big stumbling blocks to expanding the effort.  The first is in terms of funding--federal budget battles, the sequester, and general economic struggle has left social programs in a tough spot.

Another problem is that of some local communities still not buying into the idea that homeless folks need a place to stay, and it might be in their town limits.  Faith says the thing people should think about is that though homelessness might not be ended all together…chronic homelessness is one thing that might actually be solved.

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