HHSA Approves Contracts on SNAP Work Requirements and Homeless Services

The Cuyahoga County Health Human Services, and Aging Committee met on September 22, 2021, to hear about two contracts and one presentation. The first contract was the extension of a master contract for the county’s SNAP to Skills program, a program designed to satisfy the federal work requirements for recipients of Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits through the Employment and Training (E&T) program. The original contract length was October 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021. The proposal would extend the contract to September 30, 2022. The contract is with eight providers listed below:

  • Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry $147,800
  • The Centers for Families and Children $120,000
  • Towards Employment $180,000
  • The Spanish American Committee $120,000
  • Cleveland Center for Arts and Technology/New Bridge Cleveland $244,085
  • Cuyahoga County Public Library $56,389
  • Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and Central Ohio, Inc. $120,000
  • West Side Catholic Center $120,000

Speaking on the contract was Paul Porter, director of HHS Division of Contract Administration, Paul Bounds, deputy administrator of the Division of Job and Family Services, and Candace Williams, program administrator. Bounds opened the testimony with a brief overview of the E&T program. He explained that the program is 100 percent federally funded through the Food Assistance and Training dollars. He also explained that the program was designed for people who are non-exempt from the work requirement, who are able-bodied adults without dependents. The program works with individuals to develop job skills such as job search, job readiness and vocational training. Williams described how participants meet with a county eligibility specialist, who them determine their support needs through an assessment. After Williams spoke, representatives from some of the agencies spoke about the impact of the program on their clients. The agencies included El Barrio, New Bridge, Goodwill Industries and West Side Catholic Center, with one witness describing the funding as “transformational.” Council only had a few questions. Councilman Dale Miller asked Bounds to define the “exemptions” to the program. Bounds said it depends on physicality, competency, and any other barriers to employment. Those exempted would be those with dependents, those with disabilities, or any other qualifying impediment. Councilwoman Conwell asked how many people were served in 2020. Bounds replied that 277 individuals were served last year, with 129 individuals finding full-time employment. The contract was approved under second reading suspension.

In 2020, The Employment and Training (E&T) program served 277 individuals with 129 individuals finding full-time employment.

The second contract was an amendment for a funding increase of $768,609 for homeless services provided across the county by Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry (LMM), including the men’s shelter at 2100 Lakeside Avenue. Porter also spoke to this contract. He opened his remarks by stating that the contract is funded with federal dollars from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. He testified that a funding increase was necessary due to higher than expected attendance at the shelter. Melissa Sirak, director of the Cuyahoga County Office of Homeless Services, followed his remarks by mentioning that the funding aids efforts to further shelter deconcentration, the homeless hotel hub strategy, housing incentives and vaccine incentives. Mike Sering, vice president of Housing and Shelter, spoke from LMM. He shared that, due to efforts to keep residents safe through the aforementioned strategies, LMM saw only a 4.3 percent positivity rate for COVID at 2100 Lakeside, which is one of the largest homeless shelters in the state. Additionally, LMM thanked the county for securing 2020 Lakeside which will provide 50 percent more space that can further efforts around deconcentrating individuals. The amendment was approved under second reading suspension.

Due to efforts to keep residents safe through the aforementioned strategies, LMM saw only a 4.3 percent positivity rate for COVID at 2100 Lakeside.

Following the contracts was a presentation from the Office of Homeless Services. The Kindred Care presentation that was on the agenda was postponed, according to David Merriman, director of the Cuyahoga County Department of Health and Human Services. After the presentation, the meeting was adjourned.