EDEN, Inc. Announces Retirement of Executive Director and Promotion of Current Chief Operating Officer.
The Emerald Development & Economic Network, (EDEN), Inc. Board of Trustees announces significant transitions for two of its principal executive team members.
EDEN’s Executive Director, Irene Collins, will retire in September of 2018. As part of the succession plan and by unanimous resolution of the Board, Elaine Gimmel, the agency’s current Chief Operating Officer, will replace Ms. Collins upon her retirement.
The Board expresses its tremendous gratitude to Irene for her years of service, vision, and leadership. During her seven years with EDEN—including five years serving as just the second Executive Director in the organization’s 27 year history—Irene coupled her financial and administrative expertise with a deep passion and commitment to providing affordable housing for vulnerable populations living in our region to steer the organization through a new era of growth and development.
Under Irene’s guidance, EDEN has continued to successfully enhance its vital community role as the lead housing provider for individuals and families who face homelessness and other challenges. Key areas of growth have included the assessment and renovation of EDEN’s scattered site portfolio, the evolvement of the agency’s organizational culture, including the implementation of an inclusive management team structure, expansion in the areas of development and property management, and the administration of new subsidy programs providing housing to additional populations now serving over 3,000 households.
Ms. Gimmel has been employed at EDEN for 22 years. In her role as COO, Elaine has overseen the Housing Programs, Property Management, Inspections, Facilities and Maintenance, Administration, and Fund Development and Communications Departments. Elaine holds a master’s degree in Social Administration from CWRU’s Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, with a concentration in Community Development, and a bachelor’s degree from John Carroll University. She is also a Licensed Social Worker, and has worked in the area of Social Services for over 25 years.
EDEN’s Board recognizes that Elaine will bring great knowledge and skill to the position of Executive Director, as well as tremendous empathy for EDEN’s clients, and an unwavering commitment to the organization’s mission. Additionally, Elaine is highly adept at cohesive collaboration, and is an active leader in numerous community partnerships.
EDEN’s Board of Trustees would like to thank Irene for her incredible contributions to the agency, and congratulate Elaine on her new role leading the organization.
Established in 1991, EDEN provides housing solutions to people facing the challenges of housing insecurities and homelessness. Each month, EDEN proudly serves over 3000 women, men, and families.
Samaar was born in Akron, OH, and was raised by his paternal grandparents, because his parents were young teenagers when he was born. He was the youngest in a house filled with many children. His grandfather died when Samaar was only fourteen, and by that time, many of his aunts and uncles had already moved out, so he quickly got a full-time job to help his grandmother out with bills. “I had to become the man of the house,” he recalled. He also began drinking to cope with stress. He immediately enrolled in the Marines from high school, and lived in Florida and a few other cities.
After he left the marines, Samaar worked at a number of jobs, but also suffered from great anxiety due to a number of events that happened in his life. Samaar stated that he used alcohol to cope. He found himself homeless, and lived on the streets and in and out of the men’s shelter. He recalled hearing about Permanent Supportive Housing from a veteran representative at the Bishop Cosgrove Center, and interviewed for a placement. He then forgot all about it until a persistent street outreach worker found him living in the streets, and told him there was a place for him. Once living at The Liberty, he sought treatment for his alcohol addiction and has been sober since April 6, 2016. Samarr’s motto has been “When I’m stress-free, I can work on ME”.
Samaar stated that he loves his apartment, but also is working on the goal of moving out and into his own place now that he feels he has the tools for independent living. “If you want to change, being here will help you become a better person.” When asked about the staff and living in supportive housing, Samaar emphatically stated: “The staff here have elped me so much, PSH is great and works IF you take advantage of the services.”
When asked how PSH has improved his life, he said “It changed me and made me a person; I’m somebody now.”
EDEN wishes Samaar continued success in working to achieve his life goals.
On Thursday, February 22, 2018, The Liberty at St. Clair hosted an event to celebrate its 10th Anniversary. Many former residents and staff were in attendance. Kind, thoughtful, humorous, and moving speeches were given, and delicious food was enjoyed.
Jeniece Tillman was the first property manager at The Liberty, and she still likes to visit when she can. She mentioned that although she was there to help the residents begin their new lives, she feels she learned more from them about herself, life, and how to interact with all kinds of people in the world, than she could have imagined. She mentioned that it “was truly a family here at The Liberty”. One former resident recalls her bringing him a leftover piece of her wedding cake.
Other former building staff in attendance were: Sonya Thompkins- former Program Manager, Melissa Keith- former Case Manager, Tim Smith- former Case Manager, Brittany Jones- former Employment Specialist, Katherine Barney-Cheney- former Employment Specialist, Semeka Gore--former Employment Specialist.
A former resident spoke at length about how The Liberty changed his life. The name Permanent Supportive Housing may be deceiving, because the average length of stay in a PSH building is around two years. Our hope is always that residents will use their time in PSH to feel safe and supported, increase life stability, and access the wrap-around services they need to set and achieve goals.
Howard Singleton did that, and more. He moved into The Liberty soon after it opened, in March of 2008. He spoke of how he had grown tired of living on the streets and in and out of shelter for over twenty years. Mr. Singleton focused his time at The Liberty to meet with counselors, attend group sessions, and gain his sobriety. Then, with the guidance and support of staff, which included Jeniece, Melissa and Tim, Howard engaged in training and sought employment. He went through several certification programs, and found some entry level jobs such as washing dishes. He stated he was “the best dishwasher they ever had!”
Howard wanted to achieve additional goals, and wanted to give back and help those who had the same struggles he once did. He went through a training program and is now a Certified Dependency Counselor Assistant. Howard works for the organization Volunteers of America, (VOA), and helps military families that have a veteran struggling with substance use. He lived in The Liberty for one year and eleven months, and in that time, he was able to take control of his life, and started a new career. This is the goal of Permanent Supportive Housing, and the goal for the Housing First model.
EDEN is so happy that The Liberty planned and celebrated this amazing Anniversary milestone, and looks forward to providing our community’s most vulnerable residents with a warm and welcoming home during the next 10 years.
We wish Howard and all former and current residents of The Liberty continued well-being, and great progress in achieving their goals.
Kevin was born in Akron, OH and lived most of his life in the area, and spent time in Florida, as well. He went through an employment training program offered by North Point. After Kevin completed the training program, he was placed in a job at a factory where he worked for three years. Unfortunately, Kevin and other staff were laid off from the factory, and he found himself homeless.
He was staying at the men’s shelter located at 2100 Lakeside and decided to enroll back in the training program with North Point, in the hopes of finding new employment. As part of the training program, Kevin received an assessment and was diagnosed with a mental illness. He spent some time in the hospital, and then received outpatient care while doctors tried to find the best prescription medicine for his illness.
Kevin thought he would need to stay in the men’s shelter until he could find gainful employment again. He said he was surprised to find out that he was eligible for housing in a permanent supportive housing building. He recalled: “When I was at 2100, I didn’t know there were places like this, that were this nice, where I could build my future”.
Kevin moved into The Liberty in October of 2014. Kevin says he feels very independent living at the The Liberty. He stated that prior to this move, it had been very difficult to integrate consistent activities and behaviors into his life. He credits his case worker from FrontLine Services for telling him about permanent supportive housing and assisting him in moving in.
When asked what advice he might give others who struggle with homelessness, Kevin affirmed: “Be willing to accept help and work on your health”. He speaks very highly of Gerald, the property manager and stated: “The staff here have a difficult job to do, but they all pull together to make it safe and supportive for all of us”.
Kevin spends a large amount of his time volunteering at the Ohio City Bike Co-Op. We reached out to Erik Anderson, the volunteer coordinator at the Co-Op, and he had wonderful things to say about Kevin:
“Kevin is one of our favorite volunteers. He is definitely one of the more focused and dedicated people who support us. What's more important to know about Kevin, is that he has spent a large portion of the credits that he earns here, selflessly helping people in similar stations in life as himself to secure bicycles, and he also helps to maintain them. Wow. Kevin is definitely a big part of the Ohio City Bicycle Co-op family.”
When we asked Kevin what his goals for the future were, he shared that he has 3 goals for 2018 that he’s focusing on with his case worker: 1. Maintaining his health, 2. Deepening his spirituality, and 3. Getting his driver’s license back. His long-term goal is to find gainful employment, again.
We are so happy that EDEN’s permanent supportive housing has helped Kevin maintain his health and independence, and is enabling him to work towards achieving his goals. We are so proud to know that Kevin is on the right path to achieving his dreams for 2018, and beyond!
For more information on the Ohio City Bike Co-Op check out their website here: http://ohiocitycycles.org/
Michele joined the coast guard on her 18th birthday in 1976. She was honorably discharged after being diagnosed with a spine deformity. She went on to work at the Urban League of Cleveland, the IRS and Veterans Affairs office, all doing secretarial work. She typed nearly 100 words per minute and said she loved the quick pace of office work. In 1998, she suffered a heart attack at the young age of 40. Unable to work, she moved back in with her mother.
For years, Michele struggled with medical complications and issues with medications. After her mother’s death, Michele struggled greatly, and self-medicated with drugs and alcohol. Michele spent some time at the Norma Herr Women’s Center, the West Side Catholic Center, and the VA hospital. She credits the care of the staff and the nourishment of the food at the VA with getting her on the road to recovery and sobriety. Michele was able to move into Permanent Supportive Housing at the Commons at West Village in November of 2017. She stated that Toni, a staff person from the VA, was integral in helping her move into her new home.
Michele shared that “having my own place has kept me sober”. When asked what advice she would offer to others struggling with homelessness she stated: “Don’t give up before the miracle happens”. When in shelter, and now in her home, she has always tried to keep up to date on the news and current events. “If you can get to a computer, you can get to the world” she affirmed.
Michele is also an experienced knitter, and has been teaching other residents in her building how to knit. She knits scarves and hats and gives them to homeless people in shelters. She states it is important to always give back.
Michele will be celebrating her 60th birthday this month and is planning a party. She has not had a birthday party since she was 21 years old, and is looking forward to celebrating this milestone!
We are so happy that Michele has found the safety and security she deserves in her new home. EDEN wishes her a happy birthday and many more!
Thank you, once again, the Carter’s Store at Aurora Farms for donating over 350 pairs of pajamas to the children who live in EDEN housing! Carter’s Pajama program is nationwide, with the goal of donating 1 million pairs of pajamas to children in need.
Thanks also to Tabitha Peterson, Property Manager at EDEN for making the connection with Carters.
Pictured are Terri, Manager of the Carter’s Store at Aurora Farms and Irene Collins, Executive Director of EDEN as they prepare to load the PJ’s in the car for delivery to EDEN’s office.
Millions of children don't have a bed to call their own or clean pajamas. Many have never even heard of pajamas. Pajamas offer a simple escape from their immediate reality, a good night's sleep and a better tomorrow. Carter's Pajama program aims to reach as many kids as possible.
Tabitha recently celebrated her four year anniversary at EDEN. She is the Lead Scattered-Site Property Manager, and the Supervisor of Scattered-Sites. Tabitha currently has a caseload of 152 clients that are living in 45 properties.
Tabitha graduated with a degree in Social Work from the University of Akron, and is a licensed social worker. Prior to joining EDEN, she worked for other social service agencies and also in property management.
Tabitha shared that the most challenging part of her job is not always being able to give clients everything they desire, and that she has to remember that she is property manager, in her current role, rather than a social worker. She also shared that there is a high need for more family living, and sometimes, there are not enough units available when they are needed.
When asked what she finds the most rewarding part of her work Tabitha quickly affirmed, “The tenants! Interacting with the clients, and giving a person or family the keys to a safe place to live.”
When we asked Tabitha what advice she would have for someone experiencing housing insecurity or homelessness, she stated, "Stay positive, and keep working with your case manager".
EDEN so appreciates Tabitha-and all our staff-for their commitment to our mission, which is: " to provide housing solutions to people facing the challenges of housing insecurities and homelessness".
If you are a landlord and interested in working with EDEN, please contact us at: email@example.com
Michele has been serving on EDEN’s board of directors since 2015. Her friend and neighbor previously served on the agency’s board, and suggested she take his place when he stepped down. Because EDEN is a Community Housing Development Organization, (CHDO), and receives certain HUD funding, we are required to have representation on the board, (at least 1/3), from residents in low-income areas. Michele’s neighborhood falls within these guidelines and she states “I applaud and appreciate the organization having board members that live in low income areas”.
Michele grew up near the Zoo and lived in Slavic Village for a short while after marriage. She and her husband moved to the Detroit-Shoreway Neighborhood twenty years ago so their children could attend Urban Community School. She graduated from Cleveland State University with a degree in Social Service and Community Organizing. After starting a family she worked in schools, as a teacher’s aide and preschool teacher so she could have the same schedule as her children.
Before joining EDEN’s board, Michele served on committees for the Commission for Catholic Community Action, and the Campaign for Human Development. She was also a long-time volunteer at the West Side Ecumenical Ministries Food Center.
Michele said she decided to join the EDEN board because she wanted to “help solve housing and stability issues for my neighbors and the people of this city and county.”
When asked what Michele learned new about EDEN after joining the board, Michele related “the most interesting thing is the tremendous number of partnerships and relationships that EDEN has in the community…organizations, individuals, landlords and staff who are all working to break down barriers to housing.”
Helping others is woven into the fabric of Michele’s family. Her son is a Cleveland EMS paramedic and her daughter works for a youth homeless agency in Seattle. Michele credits her mother’s generosity, sharing that she was someone who always welcomed neighbors and friends over and said “the more the merrier!”
When asked what advice Michele would have for anyone who might be interested in joining EDEN’s board, she affirmed, “The cause of helping people find dignity by finding a place to call home is a rewarding one, a noble one, and most of all the right thing to do…everyone needs and deserves a place to call home.”
EDEN appreciates Michele, and all our board members, for their dedication to our mission, which is: "to provide housing solutions to people facing the challenges of housing insecurities and homelessness."
Anne grew up in Avon Lake Ohio, but ventured West after high school. She obtained her BA in Psychology from Bradley University in Illinois and a Graduate degree in Women’s Studies from the University of Madison in Wisconsin. After Grad School, Anne returned to Northeast Ohio and wanted to help vulnerable and marginalized communities. She has been part of the EDEN family for two and a half years as a housing locator, working with families. She works with families that are in shelters to assist them in securing safe and affordable housing so they can leave homelessness. Anne stated the biggest challenges are finding units that are large enough for some families, and also unit inspections.
Anne, like all EDEN housing locators, is an HQS certified inspector and looks at units prior to families moving in. She is looking for units that are child-friendly among other safety guidelines. When asked about the biggest reward of her work, Anne stated “Helping people get out of a shelter, and helping families getting their feet in the door of a new home.” When we asked Anne what advice she might have for families facing homelessness, she said “Don’t give up hope! There are people out there that are understanding and want to help.”
This month Anne is transitioning into a new role at EDEN as a community housing agent. In this new role she will recruit, educate and develop relationships with landlords to work with EDEN clients that receive housing assistance.
We appreciate Anne’s commitment to EDEN’s vision of administering safe, decent, affordable housing, which will enable our community’s most vulnerable individuals and families to live with hope and dignity!
Following an eviction in 2013, Tanisha and her daughter, who was then less than two years old, found themselves homeless. She recalls sleeping on floors with her baby girl, and not knowing where to turn. Tanisha heard of the social services agency, Murtis Taylor, and went seeking guidance and was matched with a case manager. She remained homeless, but never gave up hope, and was approved for housing through EDEN in April 2014. Tanisha loved the 2 bedroom she and her daughter moved into, and things were looking up. She was working, enrolled to finish her GED, and her daughter now had a comfortable bed and was attending a daycare in a loving environment.
In 2015, Tanisha received a distressing phone call. Her sister’s children would be placed in foster care if no family member could care for them. Tanisha felt it was her duty to take in her nieces and nephews. She quickly went from caring for one child, to five. Tanisha notified EDEN’s Lead Scattered Site Property Manager about her situation. “I love Tabitha, she is such a sweetheart!”, Tanisha recalled, when telling us about that phone call. Tanisha’s two bedroom no longer felt so big, and she was put on a waiting list for a larger unit.
When asked what advice she would give to others facing homelessness, Tanisha said “Don’t give up…Everyone has a story to tell, don’t shut yourself down, open up, swallow your pride and ask for help.”
Just this week, Tanisha received the keys to a larger rental property that will provide adequate room for her and the children, including a yard for them to safely play. Tabitha tells us Tanisha and the kids ran around their new home, squealing with joy and hugging her. “That’s the best part of my job,” said Tabitha.
EDEN is happy to be able to help Tanisha be the mother, aunt, and guardian she works so hard to be. We wish her continued success, and hope the kids have a wonderful new school year—with lots of room to spread out their books and do their homework!
Marie met her husband, Robert, in 1995 and they were married later that year. After Robert fell at work, breaking his ribs and back, he struggled to heal and find stable work, and subsequently turned to drinking. Sober but homeless, Robert and Marie spent time living with Robert’s AA sponsor and then staying with family. Robert diligently followed the AA program, and the happy couple had 2 sons, Ken and Richie. Richie was diagnosed with a form of autism at an early age and required assistance, so Marie could not work. Needing stable housing for themselves and two boys was difficult, and although they were approved for an EDEN program, they were on a waiting list before they could get housing.
In 2006, the family was able to move into an apartment with the help of EDEN. In 2009, the family moved into in a single-family ranch home. In 2010, Robert’s infant grandson, AJ, arrived to live with Robert, Marie, and the boys.
Sadly, Robert passed away in April, one month after a cancer diagnosis. With the assistance of EDEN’s Lead Scattered Site Property Manager, Tabitha, Marie was able to remain in her home with the 3 boys. Marie recounted, “Tabitha went out of her way to help me after my husband’s death, so that we could stay in stable housing”. When asked if she has advice for other families struggling with housing stability Marie stated, “When you have an opportunity, make the best of it….Once you get a permanent place, do whatever you need to do to maintain it.”
When asked about her goals, Marie stated that she is still in the process of adjusting from her husband’s death. She has a counselor who is helping her with her grief, and she plans to continue therapy, set up a schedule of chores for the house, and ask the boys for help when she needs it.
Marie says parents should “Do what needs to be done for your children”, and that is what she has always done, even when it has been very hard. Marie always wanted a single-family house so her boys could have their own yard. “Living in this house is such a blessing,” she affirmed.
EDEN is happy that Marie and her boys continue to maintain the loving home that they so cherish, and hopes the boys enjoy a wonderful school year!
Mia and her daughter Maliyah have been residents in EDEN Scattered Site Housing for the past three years. They live independently in their own apartment, and receive rental assistance and related services from EDEN.
Mia relayed that it has been a long road to roam for her and her daughter. She struggled to find decent paying employment because she had not finished high school, and her stress was compounded when she became a parent. Mia went to Hitchcock Home for Women to get help addressing some bad habits she had formed, and then spent time at Laura’s Home. Finally, with EDEN housing, and a good support system in place, Mia and Maliyah were able to achieve independence and move into their own home.
Mia is working full-time and taking classes on-line to get her high school diploma. Once she accomplishes this goal, she hopes to attend Tri-C or another educational institution and complete a program in the medical field. When asked what she would say to others who struggle with homelessness she said “Our decisions and choices put us where we are.” Mia said it is best to make a plan, look at the long-term, and figure out what you need to do to not only secure housing, but maintain it. Mia credited EDEN’s Scattered Site Property Manager, Tabitha, with helping her to “put my priorities in perspective” for the past three years.
Maliyah is starting school this week, and is excited to begin the 8th grade.
All of us at EDEN wish Mia continued success, and hope Maliyah has a wonderful school year!
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.
Critically Important Advocacy and Action Alert!
Drastic changes were made to the state budget through the Omnibus Amendment in the State Senate. As a result, the Ohio Housing Trust Fund is in great jeopardy.
We need your help TODAY in reaching out to your house and senate members! Please ask them to support the House version of the Housing Trust Fund language, and not the Senate version.
The current budget contains the proposal to cut Trust Fund revenues in half and redistribute the other half to newly-created county entities that lack housing experience and coordination.
EDEN and other low income housing organizations depend upon Ohio Housing Trust Fund dollars to continue to provide quality, affordable housing with support services, designed to end homelessness for individuals—and their families—that are suffering from disabilities. EDEN was approved for nearly $2.3 million in funding for 2015 and 2016, which enables us to provide 24-hour staffing and security to our Permanent Supportive Housing buildings. As a result, many of our community’s most vulnerable members have a place to call home and the support necessary to re-build their lives, in a highly cost-effective way.
Please join us in telling legislators to remove the Omnibus Amendment to H.B. 64!
If the amendment makes it through the legislative process, it will go into effect July 1st. The state will have only half of the money it currently administers, so unless this change is rejected, all organizations currently funded with Ohio Housing Trust Fund dollars will see dramatic reductions without any clear access to local funds.
Here are the contact lists for the Ohio House of Representatives (http://www.ohiohouse.gov/members/member-directory) and the Ohio Senate http://www.ohiosenate.gov/members/senate-directory).
Please call or email your state representatives as soon as you can TODAY, to ask them to support the language in the House version of the budget regarding the Ohio Housing Trust Fund.
We ask that you continue these calls into next week while the conference committee meets to iron out differences in the House and Senate versions of the budget!
Remember that drastic changes to the Ohio Housing Trust Fund will begin July 1. Please act now.
At the heart of each of EDEN’s activities is its emphasis on the interdependence of all facets of our community. We remain unwavering in our commitment to helping people access a basic human right—safe and stable housing--but understand that the ultimate success of this effort depends, in large part, on building partnerships with fellow community members that share our desire to combat and eradicate homelessness. Thank you for your support!
The State of Ohio Historic Preservation Office invited EDEN and Cleveland Housing Network to attend their annual Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday, June 26, in Columbus. At the meeting, the partners were given a special commendation for their contribution to historic preservation for their work in restoring and renovating an over 100-year old building on Cleveland’s Near West Side.
Through these efforts, an ailing historic structure has been given new life—and in its restoration, 40 men and women have been given a chance at a new life, themselves.
In May of 2013, the Winton on Lorain opened as a permanent supportive housing apartment building for chronically homeless individuals.
Formerly known as the Ohio Freight building, the Winton has seen many past lives, under its roof. Between 1911 and 1913, the building was a funeral home and furniture manufacturing company. But over the past century, the formerly stunning gem fell into disrepair and neglect. The building was restored to its original glory by EDEN, and its lead developing partner and co-owner, Cleveland Housing Network.
EDEN and CHN undertook significant renovations, including:
The building provides efficiency apartments with full baths and kitchens, on-site social services, common laundry facilities, a community room with kitchen, a computer lab, parking for residents and a 24-hour staffed front desk.
The Winton on Lorain is part of Housing First, a coalition of public and private organizations whose mission is to end chronic homelessness in our region. Key operating partners of this effort include EDEN, CHN, Enterprise Community Partners, and FrontLine Service.
The project was funded mainly through the use of Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC). Other financing included HOME funds (local and state), the Federal Home Loan Bank’s Affordable Housing Program and the local Continuum of Care.
Greenbridge Commons tenant Sharon Voik was the feature subject in an article on homelessness by Steven Zamiska of the Campus District Observer. Sharon shared her story of spiraling downward into homelessness and, through self-determination and the help of EDEN, coming back to a place of stability. Click here for the full article. Sharon's is just one of many success stories!