Cuyahoga County announces plan to reduce youth, young adult homelessness
Cuyahoga County and community partners announced Monday a new plan to work toward ending homelessness for youth and young adults.
The plan, funded by a $3.9 million renewable grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, will provide immediate relief and work to address root causes of homelessness, said Cuyahoga County Executive Chris Ronayne.
"It's going to be top of my brain until ... in this community, we find housing for all," Ronayne said Monday.
The county partnered with local organizations to devise and rollout the plan, including homeless shelters like the Lutheran Men's Ministry and various wraparound social services.
"Every young person in our community deserves a safe and stable place to call home," said Angela D'Orazio, the program director of partner organization Sisters of Charity Foundation. "We have agreed that those who have experienced homelessness can lead the community to answers in solving it."
The plan, called Reaching for New Heights, was created by youth and young adults with lived experiences of housing instability, in partnership with professionals in foster care, homeless services, education and employment. It calls for creating transitional housing units, identifying mentors and addressing the root cause of homelessness and the impact of race, sexual orientation and gender identity.
Roughly 5,000 people are affected by homelessness in Cuyahoga County annually, 8% of whom are youth, according to data shared by the county last year. Data also shows that homelessness disproportionately affects communities of color and LGBTQ+ youth. Despite only making up 30% of the county's total population, Black people represent 70% of the homeless population.
This is the latest step toward Ronayne's goal to reduce homelessness in the county by 25% over the next three years. Cuyahoga County recently added about $2.5 million to its budget for the Office of Homelessness to help fund expansions — and better conditions — at the county-run homeless shelters in the coming year. Additionally, Cuyahoga County and the City of Cleveland announced earlier this month $3 million in grant money to seven local agencies' programming for youth, families and older adults.