DSAS Team Quickly and Effectively Responds to East Cleveland Seniors in Crisis

By: Denise Rucker-Burton, Cuyahoga County Division of Senior and Adult Services Program Administrator (Office on Aging)  

DSAS Team standing in front of Cuyahoga County LogoOn Friday, October 27, Congresswoman Marcia Fudge’s office contacted the Cuyahoga County Division of Senior and Adult Services (DSAS), regarding a group of seniors and adults with disabilities who were at risk of being evicted from a large apartment complex in East Cleveland, Ohio. Our DSAS team jumped into action that same day by deploying a special task force who went on site to meet with, and to assist, older residents who were at risk of becoming homeless overnight. 

Over the course of 48 hours, and through a complete screening process of apartment residents, the task force was able to provide services to thirteen (13) older persons immediately by providing them with emergency housing, moving expenses and/or rental assistance. Additionally, these residents received information on DSAS Services and programs for follow-up and ongoing assistance, including: Home Support, Options for Independent Living, Benefits Check-Up, Adult Protective Services and other community supports.

When asked what he thought was the greatest outcome of this process, DSAS Administrator, Dr. Richard L. Jones responded: “I firmly believe we were able to provide emergency funding and resources due to the presence of our team who worked very closely with representatives from the Congresswoman office. This collaboration between DSAS and Congresswoman’s Fudge’s Office is an excellent example of how quickly our team was able to mobilize around a very important community crisis.”

According to a September 17, 2017 story in Cleveland.com, the Forest Hill Apartment complex of 174-units that serves low-income renters has been on rocky financial  ground for several months, and the affordable housing group that purchased the complex over two years ago has not been able to keep its promise to “spruce up” the place.

Cuyahoga County is likely to see more of these issues occurring as the senior population increases at a time when many seniors live on fixed incomes, and programs such as Social Security aren’t always enough to pay for living expenses, including housing. In fact, the Center for Community Solutions reports that, of the 573,714 non-institutional senior households in Northeast Ohio, 79.4 percent live in housing units that they own themselves. The remaining 20.6 percent rent. The generally accepted threshold for housing affordability is spending less than 30 percent of household income on housing expenses. Senior renters struggle more than senior homeowners with unaffordable housing. The median rent for a senior in Northeast Ohio ranges from $514 to $754 per month; to afford this rent, a household needs to have an annual income of $20,560 to $30,160.

The mission of Division of Senior and Adult Services is to empower seniors and adults with disabilities to age successfully by providing resources and support that preserve their independence. Please contact us at 216-420-6700 for more information on services and programs, including home health care, senior centers, and senior housing.