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Mayor Justin Bibb Launches “A Home for Every Neighbor” – A Momentous Initiative to Support Cleveland’s Unsheltered Community

Friday, Feb 23, 2024

The City Will Take on a New Co-Lead Role to Increase Resources and Accelerate Housing Process for Unsheltered Residents

Friday, February 24, 2024 — Cleveland — Mayor Justin M. Bibb announced the launch of “A Home for Every Neighbor” – a brand-new City of Cleveland-led initiative that will provide more resources, increase options, and expedite the housing process for unsheltered residents.  Previously, the City assumed a secondary role acting as a financial intermediary and heavily relied on other agencies to address issues facing the local unsheltered community.  Now, the City is taking on a more active, co-lead role – in partnership with Cuyahoga County and the Office of Homeless Services (OHS) – to tackle unsheltered homelessness head-on.  This direct city-level involvement – based on best practices from other cities around the country – will be a first for Cleveland and underscores the Bibb Administration’s commitment to improving conditions for the unsheltered community.

“Every member of our community deserves a safe place they can call home.  We are at a pivotal time with our unsheltered population numbers increasing, which is why we are acting with such a great sense of urgency by launching this initiative,” said Mayor Bibb.  “If we want to see the success that other cities are having like Houston – who has successfully housed more than 30,000 people and reduced overall homelessness by over 60% in the last decade – then we need a concerted commitment to this Whole-Of-Community approach.  That includes not just from government agencies, but nonprofit, hospital, business, faith, and other community leaders too.  The time to take action is now.  We will only achieve our shared goals with everyone fully on board starting today.”

A New Strategy

“A Home for Every Neighbor” is an all-encompassing strategy designed to address the root causes of the homelessness cycle and improve all aspects of the housing process.  The City’s strategy consists of four key components:

  • Engage – Adopting and implementing an intensive, tailored engagement strategy that will consist of deploying various street outreach teams to targeted areas to connect unsheltered residents with resources and emergency, temporary, or other short-term housing options.
  • Collaborate – Working with the County’s OHS, and other providers in the Continuum of Care, to facilitate information-sharing, jointly evaluate programs, and make improvements to services based on data-driven results.  The City will also leverage public-private partnerships to obtain additional funding, build up programming, and improve workforce and educational opportunities.
  • Incentivize – Linking housing repair programs with landlord incentives as a recruitment tool to increase participation in rental assistance, utility assistance, hotel/motel vouchers, and other related programs.  The City will also work with developers to ensure that certain criteria is met in an effort to make projects more accommodating to residents exiting unsheltered situations.
  • Build – Renovating existing facilities, rehabbing and converting repurposed buildings, and constructing new affordable housing units.  The City will also explore ways to improve overall services that may be provided during the course of the housing process (e.g. transportation, meal boxes, legal aid, case management, health provider options, childcare, etc.).

"Cuyahoga County is committed to tackling homelessness through a collaborative approach with the City of Cleveland and partner agencies," said Cuyahoga County Executive Chris Ronayne. "The City of Cleveland's Home for Every Neighbor proposal demonstrates the city's dedication to Cuyahoga County's Office of Homeless Services Unsheltered Strategic Plan and the City/County Continuum of Care. By working together, we can develop a long-term response to homelessness that will lead to successful outcomes for those we serve in our community." 

Initiative Goals

The City hopes this new initiative will rehouse 150 or more unsheltered Cleveland residents within the first 18 months.  Once fully implemented, the initiative aims to decrease transition time between unsheltered status and a successful permanent housing placement to 30-60 days, part of which will be accomplished via a “Housing Surge” process.  The “Surge” is a 4-6 week process that will consist of various phases including a site assessment and inventory, initial stakeholder outreach to brief on responsibilities, multiple engagement sessions with unsheltered residents, and, eventually, a site clearance/rehousing schedule.  The various stakeholders – including a project manager, outreach groups, landlord engagement team, transportation partners, first responders, and others – will have unique roles culminating in a “Surge” week, with the ultimate goal of getting unsheltered individuals into safe, stable housing as quickly as possible.

The City is hopeful, with external support, to increase housing options as well, which could include:

  • Building permanent supportive housing units, with at least 25 within the “safe haven” model 
  • Developing affordable housing units to meet specific needs of those exiting unsheltered situations, with low-barrier accommodations in place 
  • Development of a full-season centralized Navigation Center that will serve as a specialized intake location for short-term crisis response with on-site health services to meet unique immediate needs, while also helping develop long-term sustainable housing plans upon exit 

Next Steps

The City is issuing a Request For Proposals for a partner(s) who will implement and refine the City's strategy based on best practices from model cities, methods tailored to Cleveland-specific strengths, community partnerships, and other considerations as the initiative evolves.  The RFP closes on Monday, March 25th at 5:00 p.m.  The City is remaining flexible and is open to exploring all options, including modifying existing legislation if it’s deemed necessary.

“We must invest in people before we invest anywhere else to truly make Cleveland a great city,” said City of Cleveland Ward 7 Councilwoman Stephanie Howse-Jones.  “At its core, our jobs as elected officials require us to represent and support every member of our community. Today’s announcement, combined with our recent funding support for the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, and advocacy with the Senate Select Committee on Housing represents the continuation of Council and the administration collaborating with our partners at the County to provide a home for every neighbor.”

Last month, the Bibb Administration stepped up to fill a funding gap that supported emergency seasonal shelters and related services for Cleveland’s unsheltered community.  Earlier last month, the Bibb Administration announced more than $3 million in funding to support unsheltered residents, including more than $1.2 million towards rapid re-housing efforts.  Seven local agencies will utilize that money for various programs designed to support all individuals – youth, families, and older adults – in unsheltered situations. The City also opened several of its recreation centers as warming sites earlier this winter in anticipation of cold weather.  More than 150 individuals have utilized the warming centers.

Anyone seeking overnight shelter should call 2-1-1 who will be able to connect you with a variety of overnight shelter and individualized housing options. Cuyahoga County’s OHS coordinates a continuum of care, which includes prevention, shelter services, and permanent supportive housing.  For more information, visit their webpage.

View a flyer with more details on the “A Home for Every Neighbor” Initiative.

View today’s presentation of the “A Home for Every Neighbor” Initiative.