October 28, 2022
We are thrilled to share that Cuyahoga County Office of Homeless Services, on behalf of the county's housing continuum of care, has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as a participant in its Youth Homlessness Demonstration Program. As part of the program, the continuum of care will receive $3.9 million to strengthen and sustain efforts to prevent and end youth homelessness across Cuyahoga County.
Angela D'Orazio, senior program officer at SOCF Cleveland, is chair of the steering committee for A Place 4 Me, the county's coordinated initiative to prevent and end homelessness among youth and young adults.
"Selection to participate in YHDP confirms what the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland has known for years: Cuyahoga County has a robust network of inspirational young leaders and organizations who exceed every expectation to help young people on their journey to housing stability," said D'Orazio. "This funding gives us the opportunity to strengthen these networks and services to best meet the needs of youth and young adults in our community."
Below is the press release for this announcement:
Cuyahoga County to Receive Nearly $4 Million to End Youth Homelessness
Grant From U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to Provide Funding for Housing Units, Wrap-Around Services and Housing Support
CUYAHOGA COUNTY, OH - The Cuyahoga County Office of Homeless Services (OHS), on behalf of the Cuyahoga County Continuum of Care (CoC), was awarded nearly $4 million by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to enhance and grow the County’s work to strengthen systems to end youth homelessness in Cuyahoga County.
Through HUD’s Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP), the CoC will use this funding to address the unique needs of youth ages 18-24 who are experiencing homelessness in our community. Specific strategies may include funding for housing units, wrap-around services, and housing support.
“Cuyahoga County is thrilled to be selected for this grant funding from HUD,” said County Executive Armond Budish. “For years we have been coming up with innovative solutions with our partners to what is a critical, complex issue—from the development of supportive housing for transition age youth (TAY) who are leaving foster care, to increasing capacity for special populations in our shelters, to our transformative vision for a future youth drop-in center. This grant recognizes the innovative work our staff and partners have been doing.”
OHS’ selection for this grant award is due in part to the work that’s been done locally for many years to decrease the number of youth experiencing homelessness. Since 2014, Cuyahoga County’s efforts have been led by the OHS, A Place 4 Me, Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland, a collective impact initiative of funders, other government agencies and direct service providers.
A Place 4 Me, as the service coordinator, centers on the idea that all youth will have a place to call home, especially those with high risk of homeless or those transitioning from the foster care system. Home of the REACH Youth Action Board, this initiative coordinates the planning and implementation of local efforts, including help with housing, employment, education, permanency, physical and mental health, financial capability and social capital for youth.
“On behalf of the REACH Youth Action Board, I am thrilled that the YHDP recognizes communities like ours who authentically center the voices and expertise of young people,” said Kai Cotton, Chair of the REACH Youth Action Board. “This tells me that there is a greater understanding and opportunity for me and my peers across the country to lead creative, innovative processes to help young people find the housing stability they need.”
The Continuum of Care will begin a six month Coordinated Community Plan process and identify programs whose investment will have the greatest impact on providing customized services for youth in preventing/ending youth homelessness. HUD YHDP funds are flexible and renewable, which will result in sustainable, innovative, long-term programming.
“As the lead for the Continuum of Care, I am honored to have been awarded this funding to support my colleagues in this effort,” said Melissa Sirak, Director of the Cuyahoga County Office of Homeless Services. “The Continuum of Care values young adults and takes a youth-centric approach in our efforts to end youth homelessness. Young adults are included in the planning, strategizing, and decision-making of youth services and an intentional approach is taken to create pathways for leadership for young adults. I look forward to the opportunities this support will offer as we continue our work to end youth homelessness in our community.”