The critical need for affordable housing has been a major focus of the foundation’s grantmaking since 1998. The affordable housing arena remains a complex and challenging environment requiring us to be very focused in the commitment of our resources.
Since 2002, we have partnered with other organizations to support Housing First in Cuyahoga County, a model solution to long-term homelessness which links affordable housing with comprehensive support services.
We focus our grantmaking on organizations that create quality, permanent housing with supportive services for homeless adults and families in Cuyahoga County.
In addition, we support advocacy for policy reform to improve the continuum of care for the homeless.
Our strategies to end homelessness vary depending on the population, but our work is underpinned by a strident belief that all people deserve the dignity of a home.
Our work is focused on ending homelessness among three core populations – chronic, youth and families. The needs and opportunities facing each population are different and thus so are our strategies for each.
Our longest — and most successful — efforts have been to end chronic homelessness through the Housing First Initiative, which the Foundation helped to convene in 2002. Since the first Housing First project opened in 2006, Cuyahoga County has seen a 73% decrease in the rate of chronic homelessness. Today, Cleveland has one of the lowest populations of unsheltered individuals and we are well on our way toward ending chronic homelessness.
In 2012, our attention turned toward efforts to prevent and end homelessness among youth. In particular, emphasis was placed on preventing young people who age out of the foster care system from becoming homeless. In 2013, the foundation brokered a partnership with the national Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative to help young people in foster care make successful transitions to adulthood. Our local work – named by youth A Place 4 Me – is focused on creating a comprehensive community plan to prevent and end youth homelessness with a special focus on youth who age out of foster care.
Finally, in 2015 the foundation invested significantly in the first county-wide Pay for Success project designed to end homelessness among families with at least one child in the custody of child welfare. Family homelessness is increasing in Cuyahoga County, and approximately half of these family have dual involvement in the child welfare system. The Cuyahoga Partnering for Success project aims to reunify homeless families by stabilizing the mother (or in some cases, the father) in permanent housing and wrapping her with supports and services that make it safe for her children to come home.
Advance the Housing First model to address the needs of long-term homeless adults and families.
Build capacity of local organizations to apply
best practices in providing housing with supportive services for at-risk families and youth.
Strengthen advocacy efforts to effect positive policy reform addressing the homeless continuum of care.
No one organization or agency can take on the task of preventing and ending youth homelessness. It requires diverse and innovative thinking from nonprofit organizations, public systems, local government, the faith-based community, funders and — most especially — the young men and women with deep expertise that is only attained through experiencing homelessness.
A Place 4 Me is an initiative that harnesses the strengths and resources of more than 30 partners to prevent and end homelessness among young adults age 15 to 24 in Cleveland/Cuyahoga County.
A Place 4 Me is led by a steering committee consisting of :