U.S. Housing and Urban Development officials were in Columbus Wednesday for a trio of announcements regarding the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority.
HUD Midwest Regional Administrator Joseph Galvan announced that CMHA has been awarded nearly $156,000 to help families attain self-sufficiency.
"These funds will help residents of public and voucher-assisted housing increase their earned income and reduce their dependency on public assistance and rental subsidies," Galvan said. "HUD's Family Self-Sufficiency Program helps local public housing authorities to hire a service coordinator who can work directly with residents to connect them with existing programs and services in the local community."
It's part of almost $3.5 million HUD awarded similar agencies across Ohio. Galvan also announced a $142,451 grant to CMHA to provide permanent homes to 24 veterans experiencing homelessness. The Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program, known as HUD-VASH, combines rental assistance from HUD with case management and clinical services provided by the VA. Officials say the vouchers help homeless veterans obtain affordable housing in the private market.
"Since 2017, the Columbus VA along with CMHA has provided permanent supportive housing to 310 veteran households," Director of Veterans Affairs Central Ohio Healthcare Vivian Hutson said. "The Columbus HUD-VASH program leads the region with an average occupancy rate of 96 percent."
HUD also designated CMHA's RISE center a HUD EnVision Center. The designation enables resource-sharing and partnerships with additional federal agencies, including the Commerce, Health & Human Services, Labor, Agriculture, and Education departments. RISE Center director Sonja Nelson.
"Once people have stable housing, they can begin to address the barriers that stand in their way to self-sufficiency," RISE Center director Sonja Nelson said. "The needs are many, from affordable child care and transportation to mental health services and job training. Everyday people walk through the doors of CMHA overwhelmed with challenges beyond housing. Coordinators at RISE will connect residents to resources provided at local agencies to support our residents in addressing obstacles to create pathways to personal and economic empowerment."
In addition to economic empowerment, educational advancement, health and wellness, and character and leadership are the other points of emphasis.
"It's focused on CMHA residents, but it's open to anyone," Nelson continued. "When our housing advisors meet with someone and they need child care or help in finding a job, unfortunately our housing advisors don't have the time or the capacity or the tools. They're regulatory. So now they can say, yes you have support right across the street. You can go over to the RISE Center, and they will help you."
Nelson says while the HUB sits across the street CMHA's main office near 11th and Cleveland Avenues, there are also satellite locations at the organization's housing communities. Additional locations and services will be based on feedback from residents. Officials say they will measure success based on the outcomes of the residents they serve.