Beginning in 1992, the Jefferson County Community Action Council, Inc. utilized the Housing Opportunities program in developing an SRO (Single-Room Occupancy) facility. The priority for this project was established by years of study by the Jefferson County Coalition for the Homeless - a group that was organized and sponsored through JCCAA support. Using the old Cathedral School, lease to the JCCAC for $1 a year by the Catholic Diocese of Steubenville, a development grant was secured, a feasability study made of the property, and a complex and challenging package of additional grants written. Money for "rehab" construction as well as rental subsidy has been secured. The whole process, including waiting for state and federal bureaucratic snarls, consumed nearly five years before actual construction began in the fall of 1997.
In the summer o f1998, the project began to provide professionally-managed, low-cost efficiency apartments for 30 homeless individuals. These are single individuals who do not have any permanent housing options. They are not eligible for many of the local homeless shelters that are mainly reserved for families. Being that the SRO is solely dedicated to housing single individuals, this allows a viable option and sometimes the only option for single homeless individuals while also freeing up space in family shelters for homeless families and children. Supportive services from various communtiy agencies are offered on-site.
Since its inception in 1998, the SRO has been properly maintained as the operating budget will allow. General repairs have been made and one major upgrade was completed when new energy-efficient windows were installed. Otherwise, the operating budget has not permitted major upgrades or repairs. Certain areas of teh building have fallen into disrepair. Two major areas of concern are the roof and front stone facade. The roof has been repaired through the years but recently has been deemed as unsafe and in need of total replacement. Any further repairs will not stop leaks that are starting to affect the interior parts of the building. Several apartments are uninhabitable due to water leaks. This leads the JCCAC to turn away homeless individuals in need of a residence. The decorative facade is failing and pieces fall off periodically.
As a private non-profit it is very difficult to complete large-scale repairs. Most of the grant funding allocated to these programs does not permit such endeavors. Starting with the April 2018 budget the SRO began to see a loss of revenue due to uninhabitable apartments and that revenue loss may increase if the roof is not repaired and more rooms are affected by water damage. These uninhabitable rooms also cause compliance issues with entities like the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, which is responsible for auditing the SRO operations. If an apartment stays vacant for 90 days or more it is considered out of compliance and will become a finding on the next OHFA review. This non-compliance may not immediately cause loss of funding but it is not ideal in a situation that relies upon potential grant funding and compliance.
Current estimates for the roof repair alone are at $90,000.00. This type of financial burden is not currently feasible within the SRO operating budget. In order to keep this much-needed service available within our area we are in need of financial assistance from all available sources.
Please donate to help ease the housing crisis in Jefferson County, Ohio by maintaining this valuable assistance program.