Poverty & Safety Net
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The Center for Community Solutions Board of Directors endorses March 17 Cuyahoga County health and human services levy

February 10, 2020
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For more than 107 years, The Center for Community Solutions has led and supported efforts to reform and/or improve the delivery of health and human services at the local, state and national levels.

In 1932 at the height of the Great Depression we advocated for a countywide welfare levy in response to unprecedented suffering and greater demands on the limited resources of the community’s human services agencies. Cuyahoga County voters approved the issue and it became one of two general purpose Cuyahoga County health and human service levies that continue to support services to this day. Due to these levies, our health and human services system works for all of us. These services include things like MetroHealth, trauma services, senior programs, and mental health and addiction treatment.

One out of every three Cuyahoga County residents use county-provided health and human services every year—that means more than 400,000 people from more than 200,000 families.

We’ve always been at the center of advocating for and helping the community address nearly every health and human service need that confronts our community. It’s this tradition of advocacy, understanding and service, that leads us to once again endorse the Cuyahoga County Health and Human Services Issue 33 that voters will be asked to approve on March 17. We’ve seen firsthand the challenges that our most vulnerable neighbors face, and we understand that without passage of Issue 33, many children who are at risk of abuse or neglect; people with mental illnesses or addictions; people with serious health issues; crime victims; seniors; and people with disabilities would go without help.

One out of every three Cuyahoga County residents use county-provided health and human services every year—that means more than 400,000 people from more than 200,000 families.

And the need for health and human services has been growing. Deep, long-term poverty, the opioid crisis and an aging population have made a robust health and human services system more necessary than ever.

  • Cleveland is the second-poorest major city in the country, and our poverty rate is a third higher than it was during the Great Recession.
  • Opioid-related deaths in our county have occurred at two-and-a-half times the national average.
  • There are now more Cuyahoga County residents over the age of 60 than there are under the age of 20.In the primary election coming up on Tuesday, March 17, Cuyahoga County will ask voters to approve Issue 33, a replacement property tax levy of 4.7 mills to fund health and human services. This would be a small increase of eight-tenths of a mil over the current rate of 3.9 mills. The new millage rate would be effective from 2021 through 2028 and would cost property owners roughly $41 more a year for every $100,000 in property value— or put another way, about 11 cents a day.
We’ve seen firsthand the challenges that our most vulnerable neighbors face, and we understand that without passage of Issue 33, many children who are at risk of abuse or neglect…would go without help.

Issue 33 may be a small increase, but it will have a significant impact. Its proceeds will ensure current critical services continue and it will also fund investments to amplify their impact and help reduce long-term needs and costs. Community Solutions has offered to assist Cuyahoga County develop a robust system of measurement and oversight. We will compare Cuyahoga County health and human service performance and costs to other benchmark counties to see where there might be areas of improvement. We will also identify state and/or federal policy choices and demographic changes that may impact the cost, provision, and/or quality of health and human services locally. We’ll also continue to regularly report on contracts and services approved by Cuyahoga County Council and the County Executive.

If we make wise investments, we can accomplish goals like:

  • Reducing infant mortality and saving babies’ lives
  • Protecting thousands of children whose families have been destroyed by the opioid crisis
  • Getting more people into mental health and addiction treatment, and diverting people into treatment instead of sending them to jail
  • Helping older residents stay strong, independent, and in their homesWe hope you will join The Center for Community Solutions in supporting Issue 33, the Cuyahoga County Health and Human Services levy issue.
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