Cuyahoga County Council HHSA Committee Approves Three Contracts Before Recess

Will Tarter
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August 23, 2021
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The Cuyahoga County Health, Human Services, and Aging Committee met on July 28, 2021, to discuss three contracts, one related to emergency services, another for workforce development and the last for permanent housing for the homeless.

 The first contract presented was a new master contract for emergency assistance services for families.

The first contract presented was a new master contract for emergency assistance services for families, which is administered through the Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Presenting on behalf of DCFS was David Merriman, director of the Cuyahoga County Department of Health and Human Services, and Paul Porter, director of contract administration and performance, and Chris Cabot, deputy director for the Cuyahoga County Job and Family Services. According to Porter, the contract would run from September 1, 2021, to October 31, 2022, in an amount not to exceed $1,575,000, with two one-year extension options. The contract would be supported by five stores, who would together provide furniture, clothing and food, in the event that a family needed them in an emergency. Community Solutions has previously written about this contract. A new Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued earlier this year, with five respondents. Each respondent received an award.  

They are:

  • A-Z Furniture Co., Inc., $315,000
  • Burlington Stores, Inc., $420,000
  • Dave’s Supermarket, Inc. (Emergency Food), $125,000
  • Penney OpCo LLC, dba JCPenney, $330,000
  • West 25th Furnishings and Appliances, Inc., $385,000Porter explained that not all of the dollars earmarked for the contract last year were utilized due to other programs that could meet the needs of families (such as food assistance), so the contract is structured in a “not to exceed” amount based on demand.  

The HHSA committee passed the contract under second reading suspension, which means that the contract does not need to go through three readings at the general body council meetings.  

The second contract was a one-year extension of two contracts that were approved two years ago, called “Propel Cuyahoga.” Coordinated through Maximus Human Services, Inc. and The Centers (formerly The Center for Families and Children), the one-year, $7,309,902 contract would extend the contract to June 30, 2022. The program, as envisioned, seeks to provide training for skills necessary to connect individuals into the workforce. The program is funded through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. The county will issue a new RFP later this year. Maximus’ contract is $2.9 million (compared to $2.6 million last year) and $4.4 million (compared to $2.9 million last year) for The Centers, according to Porter. Joining Porter at the lectern was Kevin Gowan, director of the Cuyahoga County Division of Job and Family Services. Gowan explained that the number of job placements was down last year due to the pandemic, however, the programs have seen increases due to the workforce needs and companies needing to fill jobs. Questions from council members centered largely on what types of services were offered, as well as the exact number of enrollees in the program (2,016). Paul Bounds, deputy director, Cuyahoga County JFS, provided a brief overview of the types of skills training available, as well as the referral process for enrollees. The contract was passed under second reading suspension.

 The final contract was a $2 million contract for permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless individuals.

The final contract was a $2 million contract for permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless individuals. The contract would run from July 1, 2021, June 30, 2022. The organizations working under the master contract are:

  • Famicos Property, Ltd. dba 1800 Superior Apartments, $150,097.
  • Front Steps Housing & Services, Inc., $334,538.
  • Humility of Mary Housing, Inc., $110,796.
  • Mental Health Services for Homeless Persons, Inc. dba FrontLine Services, $160,005
  • Emerald Development and Economic Network, Inc. (EDEN), $917,663
  • YWCA of Greater Cleveland/Cogswell Hall, $185,325
  • YWCA of Greater Cleveland/Independence Place, $141,576Testifying on behalf of the Cuyahoga County Office Homeless Services, Porter explained that this contract would be geared toward finding permanent supportive housing for those with high barriers to stable housing. Melissa Sirak, the new director of the Office of Homeless Services testified as well. Councilman Dale Miller asked if the county has seen an increase in the number of homeless individuals during the pandemic. Sirak explained that there has been an increase in the past year, and the county has had challenges in finding locations for them but has added two sites to provide additional space so that homeless individuals have shelter (Harpers Point and St. Joseph’s Commons). Vice President Cheryl Stephens asked how many individuals came through the county homeless system pre-pandemic. Sirak replied that 4,323 entered the county system in the past year. Stephens then asked how many beds there were for homeless individuals at any given time. Sirak shared that the county has 884 spots available and St. Joseph’s Commons and Harper’s Point would add 139 beds.  

The contract was passed under second reading suspension.  

HHSA Chair Yvonne Conwell announced that there will be a presentation to the committee regarding homelessness in September. The committee adjourned and will not meet during the month of August.

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