Friday, September 23, 2022

Cincinnati-area hospital systems see connection between housing, medical needs

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CINCINNATI — For the first time, regional hospital systems consider housing a community health need. Almost two out of three homes are rentals in the City of Cincinnati. With soaring rents and steady evictions, researchers see connections with medical needs.

“I’m trying to move into my own apartment, but it’s like, where do we go next?” said Tomeshia Baker, a single mother of three boys.

Baker works full-time six or seven days a week. Still, her family has no home of their own. They have a temporary room with Baker’s sister.

“I had numerous people that turned (and said) no we don’t accept Section 8 due to the pandemic,” Baker said. “The people came in and tore our stuff up and we just don’t want that anymore. I’ve contacted a landlord. I had an inspection on the 19th of August. That inspector quit. They said for me to reschedule the inspection. So I was told to re-submit and do everything all over again. But this has been months.”

She fears the landlord will rent the unit to someone else. Meanwhile, her children suffer.

“My 13-year-old is not how he used to be,” she said. “He’s depressed. He sleeps a lot. He has not been eating. My 7-year-old (is) not doing too good in school. It depresses me more because I’m trying. Am I not doing enough for (my children)? I don’t know. It (has) my mind wandering. This is a nightmare. I don’t wish this on my worst enemy. We don’t deserve this.”

Mercy Health and nine partners spent one year counseling and helping people pay rent in Bond Hill and Roselawn. The report that followed the program found 66% of those residents had a chronic disease or ongoing mental health challenges. According to the report, 62% of Cincinnati residents rent. With hundreds evicted nearly every week, there is concern across the region.

That feeling and other research supporting connections between housing and health motivated every health system in the region to agree on an unprecedented move.

Every three years, systems meet to discuss the region’s most pressing needs. For the first time, housing is among them.

“We’ve never seen housing or a social need like that explicitly named,” Mercy Health Community Executive Director of Community Health Gina Hemenway said. “So I think we’ve elevated that in terms of the conversation.”

Mercy Health wants to throw more support behind programs and advocacy proven to keep people on the verge of eviction or foreclosure in homes, Hemenway said.

Baker just wants better results from the voucher program run through the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority.

A spokesperson for CMHA said the agency is following federal guidelines in Baker’s case.

“Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority follows the federal guidelines for the Housing Choice Voucher Program,” Lesley Wardlow, Senior Communications Coordinator for CMHA said. “The unit Ms. Baker chose was not rent reasonable (affordable). After the owner agreed to adjust the rent CMHA contacted the owner to schedule the housing quality standards inspection and September 6 was the earliest the unit would be ready for an inspection. The unit failed the inspection because of infestation and electrical issues. CMHA cannot approve a contract on a property with these issues. The owner was given the opportunity to correct the deficiencies and now we are waiting for notification that they have been corrected so a re-inspection can take place.

“There were no delays in processing the paperwork for this unit. CMHA does not have a shortage of inspectors and none of them have quit.

“HUD has strict rules that do not allow CMHA to steer any residents toward any particular landlord or community for housing. As such, families are provided resources to help them in their search process. CMHA invites property owners to list available rentals on Affordablehousing.com [linkprotect.cudasvc.com] and to showcase their properties at the HCV Your Rental Connection. Families may also utilize newspaper ads, rental magazines, etc. to assist in their search.”

READ MORE
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Hamilton County spending $10 million in federal funds to renovate unused units for affordable housing
Elderly couple forced to live apart after losing housing finally finds new home in Cincinnati

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(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by PostX News staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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