As the new year begins, don’t forget those who are struggling

Many Clevelanders no doubt felt a tinge of sadness when the calendar flipped to 2017, and for good reason.

They had to say goodbye to 2016, a year when so many good things happened to city on the shores of Lake Erie. The Republican National Convention was an overwhelming success, the Indians went on a magical ride to nearly win their first World Series in 68 years and of course, the Cavaliers ended the city’s pro sports championship drought by dethroning the Golden State Warriors to win the franchise’s first NBA title.

Hopefully, 2017 will be even better.

In this month’s issue, we share our thoughts on the leaders we expect to play a pivotal role in shaping the new year with our Who to Watch List. It’s an exciting group of people who have been involved in driving positive momentum for Cleveland’s growth and development in recent years and we believe their roles will only grow in 2017.

But as we look ahead at the many possibilities, it’s also important to address the challenges that we as a community face. In this month’s Building Stronger Communities feature, we spoke with Brian Davis, executive director of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless. Davis is concerned about a recent rise in the number of homeless families across the nation, as well as in Cleveland.

His concern stems from cutbacks last year on federal funding for transitional programs meant to help those who are homeless get back on their feet.

“Cuts to public housing or subsidized housing or time limiting would have a pretty huge impact and pretty quickly, too,” Davis says. “We’ve made some pretty big progress with the expansion of Medicaid and some of the housing buildings we’ve built. That can turn around pretty quickly. I just don’t think homelessness and housing — nobody talked about it during the election. It’s often a forgotten population and there are these huge fights about other issues.”

The unfortunate reality is that while there are instances where people take advantage of those who are trying to help, there are many more individuals and families who are desperately trying to regain their independence and provide for themselves.

We can only hope that collectively, through the efforts of people from all walks of life, we can find solutions to ease the problem of homelessness and give everyone a fair shot to achieve their dreams.

Mark Scott is Senior Associate Editor for Smart Business Cleveland.