The state of Ohio has been greatly impacted by the opioid epidemic. The epidemic has greatly impacted small cities, towns and rural communities in the state, compounding issues that already existed within the areas. A significant issue that has resulted from the nationwide epidemic in the Lima, Ohio community is the lack of housing and supportive services available for those who are being released from incarceration due to opioid-related felony charges. Many people during active addiction have lost their natural resources such as family and friends as well as housing and employment due to the consequential behavior of being in active addiction. Those who are being released from incarceration require community resources such as housing, clothing, transportation, employment and relapse prevention services. The community of Lima, Ohio and outlining areas has been affected by the epidemic. Lima, Ohio is witnessing a need for services for a growing population within the community and human service organizations have been attempting to solve the opioid issues and other resulting issues with collaborations within the community.
Stakeholders within the Community
There is a stigma attached to the stakeholder who struggles with addiction and recovery. Due to their past in active addiction, these stakeholders struggle to find employment and housing. There are many reasons that a landlord might reject one of these stakeholders that is beyond stigma. Landlords make their judgment on who can rent their property by credit reports, pay stubs, court records, possible harm to the neighborhood or poor rental history(Clark, 2007). The courts ruled in the state of Ohio, that landlords are not responsible for criminal acts for the third party or tenants if they have no prior knowledge but a landlord can be liable if the criminal act could be foreseeable and the landlord had promised a certain level of safety to other tenants (Clark, 2007). In Akron, Ohio, there is a program called HAPPEN, rental property owners are cited with building code violations following drug raids by the police (Clark, 2007). Noted by Clark (2007), research has shown that landlords have a lack of willingness to rent to these stakeholders. According to Kolody et. al (2015) ‘Opioid addiction is typically chronic, life-long, difficult to treat, and associated with high rates of morbidity and mortality.’ The life struggles that are due to the lack of services and opportunities available during early recovery may result in the person eventually going back to active addiction.
Community Collaborations between Stakeholders
There are collaborations and organization partnerships within the Lima, Ohio community that attempts to address some of the issues that have become prominent since the opioid epidemic began to significantly impact the community. One community collaboration was created by Sgt. Nick Hart of the Lima Police Department. He developed the Substance Abuse Assistance for Everyone (SAAFE) program which focuses’ on the opioid and narcotic abuse issues (Lima Police Department, 2018).’ The program involves many community stakeholders like the Lima Police Department, Lima Municipal Court as well as community mental health organizations such as Coleman Services and Lima- UMADAOP (Lima Police Department, 2018). Although this community collaboration has made a significant impact in the community in regards to prevention it has not addressed the daily issues the stakeholders, those with felonies, faces.
Organization stakeholders such as Coleman Professional Services and UMADAOP have services available to help those who needed mental health and substance use assistance, want to stay in recovery and utilize relapse prevention strategies. These stakeholders can only do so much in a community that has a significant amount of human service organizations for its size but still lacks in the number of services needed to help the stakeholders with felonies and addiction. Also, there is a lack of qualified human service professionals in the area and the state as a whole has resulted in organizations like Coleman Professional Services and UMADAOP to be under-staffed, large caseloads and long waiting periods for much-needed services. One much-needed service for the stakeholders within the community is affordable housing services that accept those who have felonies.
Allen County Adult Probation and Allen County Parole Authority often assist those who have been recently released to find temporary housing within the community. These stakeholders utilize the recovery houses within the community such as the Alvis House, House of Grace and The Mary Alice House. The recovery housing stakeholders require their residents to participate in services at community mental health centers such as Coleman Professional Services if they have been recently released from incarceration, are on parole or probation with no income. Coleman Professional Services (2019) has the mission of wanting ‘to improve the lives of people it serves, regardless of their ability to pay.’ This stakeholder has helped pay for the treatment of its clients, even housing until the client can provide for themselves. The recovery house stakeholders’ promotion of Coleman Professional Services increases the stress of this stakeholder’s resources. Coleman Professional Services has a collaboration with the Metropolitan Housing Authority and Western Ohio Community Action Partnership also known as WOCAP; two organizations that assist with providing people with affordable housing but has policies that make it difficult for the stakeholders with felonies.
New Housing Initiative
There is a need for a new housing initiative within the Lima community, a collaboration between all of the stakeholders that are affected by the lack of affordable housing and the increase in felons in the area due to the opioid epidemic. According to Heath and Isbell (2017), ethical issues need to be addressed: who has the power to affect outcomes, who will most benefit from the outcomes, who is the marginalized stakeholders, and how the outcome will cost the community should be considered in community collaborations. The housing collaboration should consist of the following stakeholders; Allen County Adult Probation, Allen County Parole Authority, MET housing, WOCAP, recovery houses such as the Alvis House, House of Grace and the Mary Alice House, community mental health organizations such as Coleman Professional Services and UMADAOP, employers that employ felons, landlords, SUD certified peer support and Child Protection Services. The reasoning behind these stakeholders being a part of the new initiative because they would have a significant impact on the felon stakeholder’s ability to maintain housing have access to community resources, including treatment services that would decrease the likelihood of relapse and recidivism. Certified peer support will represent marginalized stakeholders. Certified peer supporters have lived experiences that are similar to the marginalized stakeholders, are in recovery and can give their insight into how difficult it is to navigate some of the community resources. Child Protection Services need to be recognized as a stakeholder because there are felon stakeholders that are parents and have to prove they are stable with housing, employment, and treatment to be able to get custody of their children return to them. The housing initiative would utilize the research study conducted by Clark in 2007. Clark created a survey that asked questions that explored a landlords willingness to rent to offenders. Clark (2007) had supported the finding of previous research that has been conducted, that landlords do not accept those who have a criminal history. However, Clark (2007) discovered that 60% of landlords would reconsider renting or housing someone with a criminal background if the person could show that they have been rehabilitated and 62% would reconsider if the applicant was staying with family. This research shows that landlords need more proof than employment and income in regards to showing rehabilitation (Clark, 2007). The housing initiative will start with an online survey to explore which landlords within the community would be willing to rent to those who have a criminal background due to substance use. The collaboration can also explore if organizations such has MET housing and WOCAP would be willing to create new programs with different criteria that would not exclude those with a felony or create a program that would make it an incitive for landlords to rent to felon stakeholders. Community mental health organizations such as Coleman Professional Service and UMADAOP can assist by providing proof that a felon stakeholder is participating in treatment and recovery services so they can rent from the willing landlord or fit the criteria for a housing program. The other stakeholders; Allen County Adult Probation, Allen County Parole Authority, employers and the recovery houses can assist by information gathering and educating the felon stakeholders they come in contact with about the initiative.
- Clark, L. M. (2007). Landlord attitudes toward renting to released offenders*. Federal Probation, 71(1), 20-30,60. Retrieved from http://library.capella.edu/login?qurl=https%3A%2F%2Fsearch.proquest.com%2Fdocview%2F213981816%3Faccountid
- Coleman Professional Services. https://www.colemanservices.org. Retrieved on 11/3/19
- Heath, R. G., & Isbell, M. G. (2017). Interorganizational collaboration: Complexity, ethics, and communication. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press. ISBN: 9781478632931.
- Kolody, A, Courtwright, D.T., Hwang C.S., Kreiner P, Eadie J. L., Clark T. W. and Alexander G.C. (2015) The prescription opioid and heroin crisis: A public health approach to an epidemic of addiction, Annual Review of Public Health Vol. 36, 559-574 DOI:10.1146/annurev-publhealth-031914-122957
- Lima Police Department (2018) 2018 Annual Report. www.cityhall.lima.oh.us/directory.aspx?did=16 Retrieved on 10/19/2019