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About the Office of Homeless Services
The Office of Homeless Services (OHS) was created in 1992 by Cuyahoga County and the City of Cleveland to coordinate a wide range of initiatives directed towards reducing and preventing homelessness, providing comprehensive services for homeless persons, and increasing permanent housing opportunities for very low income and long-term homeless persons.
To make the best use of resources and achieve the strongest outcomes, OHS coordinates the Cleveland/Cuyahoga County Continuum of Care , an extensive network of organizations that plan, organize and deliver housing and services to either prevent homelessness or to assist people while they are homeless and as they move into stable housing and achieve maximum self sufficiency. On an ongoing basis, the Continuum of Care activities include:
- Planning and needs assessments
- Identifying and coordinating resources
- Providing technical assistance to agencies that serve homeless persons
- Serving as a link between funding sources and service providers.
The OHS staff oversees daily activities and works closely with:
The OHS Advisory Board
According to its Policies and Procedures [PDF] , the OHS Advisory Board is comprised of at least 23 members, representing a broad range of community interests. Ten members are appointed by specified government and systems entities. The remaining members are elected by the Board from applications submitted by community members to fill designated categories. The elected members must include:
- at least 2 current or formerly homeless individuals
- 1 emergency shelter provider
- 1 transitional housing provider
- 1 representative of a nonprofit housing organization
- 1 representative from the business sector
- 1 representative from the philanthropic sector
- 2 representatives from the health care sector, including at least one who provides health care services primarily to the homeless.
The remaining 4 seats are filled by "at large" representatives.
View a list of current Board Members
Advisory Board Goals
- To assist the Office of Homeless Services (OHS) in the implementation of the community's Homeless Plan through advocacy, policy review, technical assistance, priority setting, linkages and coordination, provision of financial and other resources, and the continued articulation of the vision of the community's Homeless Plan.
- Facilitate interagency and intergovernmental cooperation and assure private sector collaboration and participation.
- Clarify and prioritize the goals of the Coordinating Council on Homelessness Plan.
- Identify and review local, state, and federal public policy issues impacting the homeless.
- Develop financial priorities for the distribution of public funds, and influence the distribution of private funds.
- Establish criteria to monitor and evaluate delivery of services.
- Develop avenues to communicate concerns regarding policy issues.
Public Policy Committee
In accordance with the OHS Advisory Board Policies and Procedures, the Public Policy Committee shall be five Board members and other community persons, and will be appointed by the Officers. It shall bring to the attention of the Board those issues that require a public policy response, shall recommend action on policy issues, and shall identify potential partnerships and allies in the public and private sectors with whom a coordinated set of policy recommendations would be appropriate.
Review and Ranking Committee
Each year, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) conducts a competitive fund allocation process to determine how dollars for Homeless Assistance Programs will be dispersed. In order to be eligible for these funds, communities must submit a consolidated application for funding that documents how local activities meet or exceed HUD-established thresholds for community involvement and agency accountability. HUD is the primary funding source for Cleveland/Cuyahoga County Continuum of Care homeless assistance programs.
A Review and Ranking Committee that is comprised of a broadly representative group of stakeholders is convened annually by the Office of Homeless Services Advisory Board for the purpose of reviewing and recommending projects to be included in the application. This committee includes representatives of the Mental Health Board, Alcohol & Drug Board, Private Foundations, United Way Services, Veterans Administration, formerly homeless persons, service providers, and advocates. Prohibited from participating are providers who have projects eligible for renewal in the current year, or providers who are submitting new projects for consideration.
Each year this committee begins its process by reviewing and endorsing Guiding Principles in order to successfully perform this comprehensive task. The duties of the R&R Committee are to review renewal and new projects through study of program materials and site visits (as needed), provide suggestions for program improvement, and recommend agencies and projects to be included in the annual HUD consolidated application submitted by the Cleveland/Cuyahoga County Continuum of Care. These recommendations are submitted to the OHS Advisory Board for final approval.
OHS staff provides assistance throughout this process. Staff compile materials for each renewal project, announce funding available to agencies interested in submitting new projects, schedule Review and Ranking teams to conduct the review process, collect and process the input from the R&R Committee, and provide technical assistance to applicants. OHS staff attend Committee meetings as a resource. Staff do not rank or recommend projects. Through this comprehensive process, the Cleveland/Cuyahoga County Continuum of Care hopes to ensure that:
- The process is applied equally to all applicants, and requirements for information are standard to all applicants
- All applicants are accountable for outcomes
- All applicants’ clients have the opportunity to complete an anonymous client survey that is processed by OHS staff and disseminated to the review teams
- All applicants receive feedback regarding the determinations and recommendations of the R&R Committee