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Local faith, labor leaders urge Cincinnati City Council to boost funding for human services

Study recommends keeping United Way involved, too
Black Agenda Cincinnati wants Cincinnati to halt funding to United Way
Posted at 5:00 AM, Jun 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-19 05:00:32-04

CINCINNATI — Just in time for Cincinnati City Council’s vote on the budget for the upcoming year, a group of local faith, labor and community leaders have released a study encouraging council’s continued support for human services funding.

The study released Tuesday evening urged council members to allocate 1.5 percent of the city’s general fund toward agencies working to meet residents’ basic needs in the areas of health, nutrition education and housing.

It also recommends United Way of Greater Cincinnati remain involved in the city’s process for allocating money to local human services agencies.

United Way’s role came into question late last year when The Black Agenda Cincinnati called on Cincinnati City Council to remove the organization from the process.

“It’s an unstable situation, and they’re the only stable part in it,” said Charles Wallner, first vice president of the Faith Community Alliance and the study’s lead researcher.

Cincinnati City Councilman David Mann said Tuesday he had not yet seen the study, but he agreed with both key recommendations as WCPO described them to him.

Mann noted the budget City Council expects to pass would allocate funding equal to 1.2 percent of the city’s general fund to human services agencies.

That amount is in line with an ordinance that Mann championed and council passed several years ago to get funding back up to the 1.5 percent level.

“Last year, the city administration ignored the ordinance, and this year they embraced it,” Mann said. “This year it’s on track where it should be.”

The city of Cincinnati has been awarding human services funds to nonprofit organizations since 1981. For many years, the city had a policy of allocating 1.5 percent of the city’s general fund revenue toward human services.

It has fallen short of that amount every year since 2005 because of tight budgets and pressure to spend the money elsewhere.

Millions of city tax dollars are at stake.

The city’s budget for the 2018 fiscal year included more than $5.5 million for human services. The budget for the 2019 fiscal year had nearly $5.2 million allocated for human services, according to a spreadsheet compiled by the city budget office.

Wallner applauded the fact that the city is back on track to get to the 1.5 percent funding level.

However, he and other members of the Fund Human Services Committee would like to see a better structure governing the money and the way members of the city’s Human Services Advisory Committee are appointed, Wallner said.

“It just seems to me to be too much politics around this money,” Wallner said. “If they did it right, it would be a national model. Who doesn’t want to have a national model?”

A full copy of the study is available through the link below.

Final Draft for Recommendations for Human Services Funding (1)Lc Edits by WCPO Web Team on Scribd

Lucy May writes about the people, places and issues that define our region – to celebrate what makes the Tri-State great and shine a spotlight on issues we need to address. Poverty is an important focus for her and for WCPO. To reach Lucy, email lucy.may@wcpo.com. Follow her on Twitter @LucyMayCincy.