University Settlement’s Housing Program serves residents in eight Greater Cleveland zip codes:
44103; 44104; 44105; 44106; 44108; 44120; 44125; and 44127
Much of this area was significantly impacted by the foreclosure crisis resulting in thousands of abandoned properties and displaced families. Today, many of the neighborhoods in this area are impoverished, with approximately 50% of adults and 60% of children living in poverty. Many of these low-income families rely on our Hunger Center for their nutritional needs as they cope with the overwhelming struggle of housing burden, meaning that 30% or more of their income goes to housing.
The Housing program helps economically disadvantaged and under-served families in the service area meet their basic needs. The program provides four months of intensive case management to newly housed families exiting the Cuyahoga County shelter system. Staff and families collaborate to address the barriers that led to homelessness and together they create a Housing Stabilization Plan. This benchmark system requires staff and families to meet regularly to assess progress and link families to additional services in-house and throughout the community. On-site, clients are regularly referred to the Hunger Center and family stabilization services as well as the NEO Skill Corps, which helps families with financial literacy, budgeting, and job readiness. Off-site, clients are referred to mental health services, Ohio Means Jobs, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, and many others. When clients complete their four months of case management, program staff refer them to their local community collaborative to provide longer-term support and services.
In the last program year, 72 households were served, which included 274 individuals. Of these individuals, 49 had mental health issues, 40 were victims of domestic violence and 28 suffered from substance abuse. The barriers that led to homelessness can be plentiful but the families are determined to become anchored in the community and work towards housing stabilization.
A 26 year-old mother of four was referred to University Settlement at the end of June. On multiple occasions, she had received rental assistance for housing, but would ultimately return to shelter. As such, this was her last opportunity to receive the temporary rental assistance through EDEN, Inc.
After being referred to University Settlement, the mother was hired as a parking lot attendant near the Cleveland Clinic, which was outside her community. To help her save on travel expenses, she was given bus passes. The family was aided by University Settlement by enrolling two of her children in neighborhood daycare and two of her children into elementary school. University Settlement also connected the family to their neighborhood’s Collaborative and other services for long-term support. Additionally, she continued to be eligible for food stamps, obtained healthcare for each of her children, utilized local community meals and food pantries, and developed natural social supports.
As a result of the increased number of hours she works, she also increased her income. Each of these individual successes helped the family to remain stably housed upon transitioning out of the program.