Mark grew up in Cleveland and graduated from Lakewood High School. He enlisted in the Army and served from 1972-1976. He spent time in Germany and Panama. He was medically released from duty after his ear drum was ruptured during a training exercise. Mark went on to get married and have 2 children. He worked in construction for many years, then in maintenance for a commercial property company.
During a difficult life change in 1991, Mark says his problems with alcohol grew, even though he maintained employment. After his alcoholism took hold of his life, Mark eventually lived in and out of shelters for a number of years. He checked himself into a rehabilitation center for his alcohol dependency in November 2015.
Mark has lived at South Point Commons, one of EDEN's permanent supportive housing complex, for 8 months. He tells us he is looking forward to obtaining his 1 year sobriety chip from Alcoholics Anonymous in less than 2 weeks. Mark says living in a PSH building “was an opportunity to get my life back together”. He recalls one trip to the hospital and he almost ended up in a coma from complications with alcohol. “I was just sick and tired of it all."
When asked who assisted him in securing safe and stable housing, he spoke about Tyrone, an outreach worker with Care Alliance, one of our Housing First partners. “Tyrone should be given a medal of honor”. With the help of Tyrone, Ruth--a VA social worker--and staff at EDEN, Mark was able to move off the streets, and into his own one-bedroom apartment.
Mark now works part-time with his brother, installing, cleaning, and maintaining ponds. He also volunteers weekly at St. Malachi’s serving food to the homeless, and told us, “I like to talk to people when I see them, and tell them where they can go for help." He also knows that sometimes coming off the streets isn’t easy, and affirmed, “Unless you’re ready to get help, you’re not going to accept it." Mark says he has been thoroughly enjoying living at South Point and brings his grandchildren, (he has 7), to visit him, often, so he can babysit for his children.
When asked what he likes most about the PSH he said: “You get a lot of support when you move-in The staff are just wonderful." He flashed a smile and exclaimed, “Ms. Wilson is wonderful; I am very grateful for her!”, referring to the Property Manager, Nicole.
When asked what advice he might have for other people experiencing homelessness Mark said “I tell them to get a hold of EDEN; I recommend this PSH model to everyone."
We are so happy Mark is thriving in his new home, and wish him continued success at his job, and in his sobriety.
Karen is a quiet, soft-spoken woman. She lived in EDEN’s permanent supportive complex Greenbridge Commons for 7 years, and recently moved into a smaller, one-level ranch complex also owned by EDEN, which is now a better setting due to her decreased mobility. Karen tells us she enrolled in the Marines after graduating from high school at John Hay in East Cleveland. She served time in the Vietnam War from 1970-1975.
Karen had a case manager through Veterans Affairs named Daryl, whom she credits with assisting her in moving into supportive housing seven years ago. She says PSH is good because “it gives people a chance to settle in somewhere and be on their own, but you have access to other people if you need them.” She enjoyed the group activities and events offered at Greenbridge, and is looking forward to meeting her new neighbors at events at Northridge. She said she has been able to think more and plan for the future, and make goals, thanks to the supportive housing model.
Marian joined the Army in 1980, right after graduating from high school. She was in the 223rd Aviation Battalion and was stationed in Germany. Serving through 1983, she was a medical assistant and a missile range assistant. When Marian returned to the United States, she married and accepted a job at the Department of Transportation. In 1991, Marian became a full-time homemaker, caring for her 5 young children.
Marian divorced in 2004 and stated that from 2004 through 2009 she was in a “really rough period”. She found herself homeless during that time and living in and out of shelters. She said she spent time in Norma Herr Women’s Center, the West Side Catholic Center, and the VA Domiciliary.
It wasn’t until 2013 when a case worker asked if she ever served in the military, that Marian found out she was eligible for case management and other assistance from the VA. Marian moved into EDEN's South Pointe Commons and lived inside the Permanent Supportive Housing complex for a few years before relocating to an apartment through EDEN located down the street. She is currently working two part-time jobs: one at a dry cleaners, and the other and a Subway Sandwich shop. When asked how Permanent Supportive Housing has helped to improve her life, Marian said: “It kept me stable and got me off the streets.”
Marian’s advice for other people facing homelessness is that “Your personality will take you a long way if you have the right attitude.” She also mentioned that has used United Way’s 211 telephone resource service many times, and affirmed that it “is a great free resource that everyone should utilize.”
Marian says she likes working, but is also looking to retire in 7 years when she is 66. She has 5 children, 14 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren.
Eric is a Clevelander born and raised and has worked at EDEN for 2 years. He is licensed in real estate and has been working as an agent for 16 years. We are not sure how he does it, but Eric manages to work full-time, and still dabble in real estate on the side! Eric works as an EDEN housing locator with veteran who are part of the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) Program. Clients eligible for assistance through SSVF are referred to EDEN after they have been interviewed and assessed at Central Intake. Once Eric receives word that potential clients are in need of housing, he might meet with them at the Veterans Domiciliary, The City Mission, or one of the shelters.
Eric stated that the main challenge in his line of work is finding the availability of private landlords with affordable, safe housing. There are also challenges finding landlords willing to work with clients who have barriers such as past evictions, low income, and gaps in employment.
Eric affirmed that it can take a while for the clients he serves to build up trust with him, because they have often had promises to broken to them in the past. He says “The rewarding aspect is knowing that you have made a positive impact on someone's life when they secure a place they can truly call home. I let them know that there is a difference between where you are now and the next chapter in life, and that they are in control of writing their story from that point.”
He reflects how he will see past clients in the grocery store, or walking in the neighborhood, and they will stop him to say thank you.
EDEN is thankful for Eric—and all of his colleagues—for their hard work and dedication to our mission which is “to provide housing solutions to people facing the challenges of housing insecurities and homelessness.”
Jalisa was born and raised in Cleveland, and went to school for urban planning in Alabama. She moved back to Cleveland in 2015 to help her family, and started working at EDEN in October, 2016 as a Housing Locator for the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program.
Growing up, her father worked for FrontLine Service, a longstanding partner agency of EDEN’s, which provides case management, mental health services, and other supports to many of our clients. FrontLine is also on EDEN’s Housing First coalition partners, and is the service provider at all of the Permanent Supportive Housing buildings. Jalisa recalls meeting some of the homeless individuals that her father assisted while she was growing up. Through frequent activities such as volunteering at shelters during holidays, she was ingrained with a sense for the importance of serving the less fortunate.
When asked about the most challenging aspects of her job, Jalisa stated “When the clients are discouraged, when they feel they have hit rock bottom, or when they have given up hope at a better life.”When listing the most rewarding parts of her job, Jalisa smiled brightly and spoke about when the veterans she works with finally get housed, and when they have furniture being set up, and when they call to give her a simple ‘thank you’. “Many people take having a home for granted, without even realizing it”. Jalisa related that months after moving into their permanent homes, some clients still reach out to her to text her warm wishes on a holiday. “It really brightens up my day and makes me smile”.
EDEN is grateful to Jalisa—and all of her colleagues—who put the following key component of our vision into action:
"Developing, operating, and administering safe, decent, affordable housing which will enable the communities’ most vulnerable individuals and families to live with hope and dignity.”
Tony served in the U.S. Army from 1984-1991, and was stationed in Both Japan and Germany. “Life was a very confusing time for me when I returned”, recalls Tony. Tony then went on to become a corrections officer for many years after he returned from the Army, but says the stress of the job built up, and life became unmanageable. As a result, Tony was no longer able to continue working or maintain stable housing, and he became homeless.
Tony first learned about services for veterans in 1997. He stated that at that time, resources were not openly advertised and there was a stigma associated with mental health issues, so all information he received was word of mouth. He struggled with depression and anxiety for many years.
Tony was living in “The Dom”-the Veterans Domiciliary-last year when he attended a “Home for the Holidays” open-house event at EDEN’s Buckeye Square Permanent Supportive Housing building (PSH). He visited the property and really liked it, so he took the initiative to speak with the Property Manager, Roberto. Tony was provided with detailed information, and was referred to a VA Case Manager. Since the community’s newest PSH complex would be housing 25 veterans, the Case Manager met with Tony the next day, and began the process of securing Tony a home there.
On January 17, 2017, Tony moved into the Commons at West Village. He says he grew up on the west-side, and feels comfortable in the area. “I feel safe and secure and can sleep at night” he says, quietly, while looking around his well-kept apartment.
Tony recently secured a bike to help him exercise and reduce back pain. He says he talks about his new apartment all the time to anyone who asks. People that knew him before his move to his apartment tell Tony that “they see the change in me since I’ve lived here.”
Tony credits Reva, Sharon and Annabella from the VA, who helped him find out about EDEN properties, and helped him move out of the Domiciliary and into his new home. He is also grateful to the property manager, Julie, and all of the staff at the Commons of West Village, because he knows that “they are right down the hall if I need them. That is very important for someone like me. I am able to close my door, and have my own space and my solitude, but I know that I am also part of a community right outside that door, which makes me feel safe.”
We are thrilled to announce that chronic homelessness in Cuyahoga County has dropped by 86% since EDEN and its Housing First partners opened their first Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) complex, Emerald Commons, in 2006.
There are currently 9 PSH buildings co-owned and operated by EDEN, and the 10th-- Inez Killingsworth Pointe—in Cleveland’s Union-Miles Neighborhood, is slated to be completed by the end of 2017. This building will house 66 residents with single bedroom apartments, and onsite support services.
You may be asking “how does Housing First work”?
Permanent supportive housing enables people to become housed, and then work to regain control over their lives and their health in a safe, secure environment.
This approach is based on research and experience that has demonstrated that stable housing is the linchpin to a chronically homeless individual’s ability to address obstacles that have impeded stability, and is the best solution for long-term success. In addition, Permanent Supportive Housing reduces significant burden on the safety-net system, and delivers great financial savings to the community.
Approximately 16% of the residents in our PSH buildings are veterans. Almost 9% of all homeless people in the nation are veterans. Our Permanent Supportive Housing provides on-site case management to meet with residents to insure housing stability. There is also a community room for meetings and events, a computer lab, laundry facilities, and other amenities.
Our goal is to completely eradicate chronic homelessness in our community, and we have almost achieved our goal! EDEN could not achieve this success without the unwavering commitment of our Housing First partners:
Enterprise Community Partners, Cleveland Housing Network, Frontline Service, Cuyahoga County, City of Cleveland, Sisters of Charity Foundation, Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, Care Alliance Health Center and the Cleveland VA Medical Center.
Our region should be very proud of our success in combating chronic homelessness by providing a permanent home and support services to individuals with the highest needs and most barriers to housing. For more information, please visit: http://www.housingfirstinitiative.org
Fitz served in the U.S. Marines from 1982-1986. He was stationed in Japan most of that time. He related that it was very difficult adjusting to civilian life after returning to the U.S., and stated that he had “a very rough time, for many years”.
Fitz feels that in the past, treatment and services for veterans “were hidden”. He says that now, they are much easier to find. Because he was unaware of what was available to him at the VA, he didn’t hear about services for veterans until 2000.
This past year, Fitz made a commitment to himself to improve his physical and mental health, and stabilize his housing situation. On December 6th of 2016, Fitz moved into EDEN’s new Commons at West Village Permanent Supportive Housing building. He relayed that he “I couldn’t believe that I was deserving of a beautiful and safe apartment, like this”. He looked around his spotless apartment with pride, and stated that he loved to sit in his recliner by the window overlooking the grounds. He pointed out his new coffee table and a framed picture of his beloved mother, and turned up his favorite smooth R. and B. song.
We asked him if there was anyone that was instrumental in helping him secure and settle into permanent housing, and he spoke glowingly about all the staff at West Commons. He mentioned the property manager, Julie, who he said is “wonderful and kind”. Fitz broke into a huge grin when describing Annabella, the full-time VA case manager on-site, and said she is “so nice, and so friendly, and so helpful. She is always there for me”.
There are 24 other veterans living in West Village besides Fitz, and they comprise 36% of the residents. There are weekly meeting groups for support, and a picnic is planned for the week before Memorial Day. Fitz stated that he loves the informal interactions with the other veterans in the building. He said “It is nice to know that there is a group of people that just understands. We all do our own things, but whenever we see each other, we can really relate to each other.”
Please see the following Plain Dealer article about plans for the 66-apartment Permanent Supportive Housing building, which is anticipated to open in 2019.
CMHA will be opening its Housing Choice Voucher Lottery, in a few days!
Waiting List will only be available from Midnight on Monday August 3 to Midnight on Friday August 7. It will only be available electronically for online submissions, and once it is closed it will not be open again until 2019 at the earliest. The last time the waiting list was opened was 2011.
Everyone currently homeless or nearing homelessness should complete the application.
The website for applications will be http://applycuyahogacounty.tenmast.com, but will only be available for those five days.
For the elderly and disabled there is a telephone number to call to complete the application then the individual will be e-mailed or mailed a confirmation number. The application call center will be open from 8 am to 8 p.m. from 8/3/2015 to 8/7.
All the libraries and computer centers will be available to help people with the application. It typically takes 5 minutes to complete the application with just basic information (for single individuals). It takes longer to add all the other members of a household. All those in the household must be included (grandmother, children, etc.).
Duplicates will be discarded, but every adult can complete an application to get in the lottery even if that adult is a member another household. A couple should each complete an application to better their chances. If a parent (grandmother) is a member of a household they should complete an application as head of the household as well just to better their chances. Mom, Dad, Grandmother, 18 year old son and two minor children are a household, they should complete four applications with each adult as head of household but every application should include the other members of the family listed.
There is a Spanish and English version on the site and the call center has Spanish speakers as well. ·
10,000 names will be drawn and then sorted from first to last by computer. Those at the front of the waiting list will be selected first and the top 600 will be offered a housing voucher this year. All the numbers of the winners will be selected by September 15, 2015. It does not matter when you submit your application.
Successful application will produce a confirmation number and that number will be the one posted so that individuals can see if they won the lottery and made the waiting list. An individual can enter a couple of unique identifying pieces of information to retrieve their confirmation number if they lose it.
An individual can be on the Public Housing Waiting list, can be a tenant of CMHA or any other subsidized program (EDEN, Project based housing, etc) and apply for the Housing Choice Voucher Program.
NEOCH staff will be available from 9 to 5 every day that week to help people complete their application. You can send people to NEOCH and we will make sure that they get their application filed and we will give them their confirmation number.
If your number is selected and you make it to the top of the waiting list, they will call you in for an interview at which time they will do the income verification and ask all the eligibility questions. That could be in December 2015 or March of 2019, so it does not hurt to apply now.