Cuyahoga County executive talks rent assistance, diversion center, racial inequity

The weekly briefing of the Cuyahoga County Board of Health on June 12 began with Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish by thanking Dr. Amy Acton who announced she was stepping down as the Director of the Ohio Department of Health.

The Cleveland housing network will be ready for applications July 1 but those who need assistance now should call 2-1-1.

“I firmly believe that there would be many, many more dead in Ohio if it were it not for the wisdom, the expertise and the courage the Dr. Acton demonstrated throughout these past few months,” said Budish.

He then went on to discuss racial inequity in the county and highlighted some of the things that the county has done to attempt to try to combat it including the efforts of First Year Cleveland and a small business stabilization fund.

He then said that he recommended 15 ”local civic and business leaders” be appointed to a Cuyahoga County Citizens Advisory Council on Equity to take a look at the full range of equity issues in the county.

Budish also discussed the national movement by some to “defund police,” and said “one of the key points consistently raised is that police are performing some duties that might be better done by social workers or human services professionals. Budish then brought up the county’s recently sent out request for proposals for the creation of a diversion center, where he said people can help and heal people instead of arresting and incarcerating them.

The diversion center would mean that instead of arresting someone with mental health and/or drug addiction issues they will be redirected to a diversion center where they will have access to treatment and things like job training.

Budish also announced the county has put before the county council a rent relief program to create a “uniform-system for emergency rental assistance to prevent people losing their homes and ending up homeless.”

He said that he recommended to county council that the county provide $5 million of county coronavirus relief funds and $1.8 million of Community Development Block Grant funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for rent relief. Budish said that the funds would be provided to income-eligible applicants up to three months of back rent with checks made out to landlords. He said that the Cleveland housing network will be ready for applications July 1 but those who need assistance now should call 2-1-1.