SOAR Voices


COHHIO Housing Ohio Conference

By Amy Lamerson, M.S.W., SOAR Ohio Program Manager and SOAR State Lead, Ohio

As the SOAR Ohio State Lead with the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio (COHHIO), I am excited to share some awesome news. COHHIO has put on a yearly housing conference for many years. For the past 2 years, SOAR Ohio has had the opportunity to offer a few breakout sessions for community providers to learn more about SOAR Ohio and bring attention to SOAR and special populations.

It was such a privilege to know the COHHIO Housing Ohio conference was able to invite and have Dazara Ware, Ohio’s SOAR Liaison at the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center to present at our conference. She presented on two special population groups along with two of the agency-funded SOAR Specialists, Laurie Casati and Sherry McGlown. She also presented with one of the agency-funded Supervisors, Darlynn Nero, who, prior to her retirement from the State of Ohio, was the first Supervisor of the Ohio DDS Expedited Homeless Unit.

Having so many SOAR experts in the room who were able to address the needs of and provide information on service provision for Veterans and individuals in contact with the criminal justice system who are experiencing homelessness was an invaluable opportunity for SOAR Ohio as we grow our program.

Since 2016, there has been talk that SOAR Ohio would be ending. Please let me announce for clarification, that has never been the case for COHHIO’s SOAR Ohio Project. Yes, COHHIO has been funding agencies to do the much needed and important work with SOAR for over 10 years, but never has COHHIO discussed ending the SOAR Ohio Project. With budget cuts, changes across the state, and funding sources getting more limited, COHHIO may not be able to continue to provide funding for a dedicated SOAR Ohio Project specialist to agencies throughout the state. However, COHHIO has no intention of ending the SOAR Ohio Project or ceasing to provide training assistance, technical support, and presentations to continue to develop new partnerships and support the many SOAR Ohio trained specialists around the state of Ohio.

I would also like to share how COHHIO’s SOAR Ohio Project will continue to keep SOARing in Ohio for Fiscal Year 2019. We have been able to secure $700,000 in funding that is dedicated to the SOAR Ohio Project Agencies and specialists in Ohio communities. This funding source is the Ohio Deptartment of Medicaid (ODM), Money Follows the Person (MFP), HOMEChoice. The partnership that COHHIO and ODM, MFP, HOMEChoice have established over these past several years has provided great support and access to main stream benefits to some of Ohio’s most vulnerable individual community members.


The views, opinions, and content expressed in SOAR Voices do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors.