Cleveland: 'Supportive' housing changing lives for homeless

11:14 AM, Sep 12, 2012   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- Hundreds of people are no longer sleeping on the streets or in a shelter. They are sleeping in a safe, warm place, and it's helping them to turn their lives around.

On Wednesday, community leaders and the leaders of a public-private partnership called "Housing First" came together to celebrate the new apartments located on Euclid Avenue.

The complex is called the Greenbridge Commons. The name is fitting. The building is built to "green" environmental specifications and the goal of this supportive housing is to bridge the gap between life on the streets and a stable place to live.

Greenbridge is now home to people who are chronically homeless. That means they have been homeless for more than a year or had four or more episodes of homelessness over three years.

Inside residents can find medical care, mental health services, and even help finding a job.

In addition to the independent living spaces, there is a computer lab, a community area, and a vegetable garden, so residents can grow produce.

Residents pay one-third of their income to live in the apartments, which are secure. They can live there for as long as they wish.

Only two percent of the residents who live in this supportive housing situation return to homelessness, according to Mark McDermott, vice president and Ohio market leader of Enterprise.

Having a safe place to rest their heads at night gives residents one less thing to worry about for the chronically homeless. Most of them have some sort of disability.

"A sense of pride and a willingness to work on the other issues in their lives. Because they know they can come back here at nighttime and sleep in a safe place. Part of the issue that we don't think about normally, those of us who aren't homeless, is that homelessness is not safe," McDermott explained.

According to a news release from Enterprise, the chronically homeless make up only 20 percent of the homeless population, yet they use 70 percent of the resources available to help the homeless. It's a cost that affects us all.

"The cost of being homeless to the public sector is huge. So for example, instead of going to the emergency room so many times a year, somebody who lives in the supportive housing can actually get consistent medical care, that really reduces the cost on the public sector."

The apartments are located on the RTA Healthline which makes transportation easier for residents.

Eight years ago, the goal set by "Enterprise Community Partners" and "Housing First" was to provide 1,000 supportive housing units for the homeless in the city of Cleveland.

The Greenbridge Commons has 70 units and puts the group well within reach of that goal.  There are now about 700 units.


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