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Nearly $2 million in contracts approved by Cuyahoga County HHSA Committee

December 9, 2019
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The Cuyahoga County Health, Human Services and Aging (HHSA) Committee heard testimony from four agencies looking for county contract approvals or extensions before the end of the calendar year. The committee meeting on November 20 was chaired by Pernel Jones who is vice president of county council and vice chair of the council’s HHSA committee.

 Cuyahoga County Fatherhood Initiative serves 6,000 fathers served per year through 11 programs.

The first item up for discussion was an extension of a master contract to programs funded by the Cuyahoga County Fatherhood Initiative (CCFI). The proposal was to extend the contract term from December 2019 to December 2020. The contract, funded by county health and human service levy dollars, funds several organizations including MetroHealth and the Centers for Families and Children. These organizations offer programs that support fathers-to-be with things like diaper training and offers emotional support and job training to those who are already fathers. The program also funds efforts to educate teenagers about the importance of not becoming a father until one is emotionally and financially ready. Speaking on behalf the contract was Al Grimes, CCFI Director. In his testimony, he referenced research has shown that a father’s involvement in a child’s life leads to better emotional outcomes for children in both the short and long term. Councilman Dale Miller asked how many fathers the office serves per year. Grimes told Miller that CCFI serves 6,000 fathers served per year through 11 programs. The contract was approved under second-reading suspension, meaning it does not have to go through three readings at the full council meeting.

The second contract was for the Department of Job and Family Services. The department sought approval for a new contract from October 31, 2019 to December 31, 2020 for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Skills Employment & Training program, also known as SNAP to Skills E&T. Testifying on behalf of the contract request was Paul Bounds, Deputy Administrator of the Cuyahoga County Department of Job and Family Services, as well as Diana Boswell, manager for the SNAP to Skills Center, located in Cleveland. The SNAP to Skills program provides participants with the opportunity to learn job skills that can lead to economic self-sufficiency. Counties across the state are required to offer programs through the SNAP E&T program, and these programs are federally funded. Currently, Cuyahoga County contracts with six providers, including Towards Employment, Cuyahoga Community College, the Centers for Family and Children/El Bario, New Bridge, Youth Opportunities Unlimited and the Cuyahoga County Public Library. Included in the new contract, are three new organizations, Lutheran Metropolitan Ministries, Spanish-American Committee and West Side Catholic Centers.

 An estimated 960 people will be served by the various providers in the coming year.

Councilwoman Shontel Brown started off the questioning, asking how funding will be allocated considering the additional providers, and also asked for an estimate of the number of people who would be served in the coming year. Bounds replied that the funding will be distributed based on the number of people served at each agency. It was mentioned later on in the meeting that there were funds remaining from the previous year which will be included in the upcoming year funding allocations. Bounds said an estimated 960 people will be served by the various providers in the coming year.  

Miller noted that the contract extension was supposed to go into effect on October 1 and asked what caused the delay. Bounds said there was an issue putting the contracts together, but leftover funds from the previous contract have allowed the program to continue, even though the new contract is not yet approved. The contract was passed under second-reading suspension.  

The third contract was with Emerald Development and Economic Network for rapid re-housing of homeless individuals. The original contract date was January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2019. The contract extension would add an additional year to the contract worth $1,391,325.

 The contract extension would add an additional year to the contract worth $1,391,325.

Ruth Gillette, Administrator of Office of Homeless Services testified about the contract, which is funded by two federal grants. For families who are in sudden need of housing, this program provides short-term housing in an emergency housing unit, and also connects people with a housing coordinator to help the individual or families find new housing. As time goes on, the rental subsidy percentage paid by the county goes down. The actual percentage of coverage can vary depending on if it is a family with children or a single adult. The housing coordinator also connects individuals with job skills programs that can help lead to sustainable income and provide a path out of homelessness. In total, 821 households were served through the program this year. Councilmembers did not have many questions, and the contract was passed under second-reading suspension.

 Eighty-eight percent of those served eventually obtained permanent housing.

Finally, the committee heard from the Office of Homeless Services for a contract approval request of $538,941, for the Pick Up, Assessment, Shelter & Services (P.A.S.S.) program from the Salvation Army. The program, which is federally funded, provides 75 beds for homeless single, adult men. While at the Salvation Army, the men are connected with housing options and job-training skills. In 2019, the county’s program served 265 individual men. Eighty-eight percent of those served eventually obtained permanent housing, while just five percent returned to the homeless shelter at 2100 Lakeside. Jones asked Gillette if there was a waiting list to get into the program. Gillette said that there is not a waiting list, because when there is a vacancy, it is filled with someone recommended from the men’s homeless shelter. Miller also asked why, if the contract began on October 1, 2019 and runs through September 30, 2020, it was presented to council so late. Gillette explained that there can be delays at multiple points in the process, including lag time between receiving the federal award letter, the actual receipt of funds, as well as submitting the grant contract language for authorization to the national Salvation Army headquarters in New York City. She noted the Salvation Army typically accounts for those delays by utilizing other funding sources while they wait for the federal funding to come in. Hearing no more questions, the contract was approved under second-reading suspension.  

The meeting was then adjourned.

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