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This blog is dedicated to distribute current information about the Coalition for the Homeless in Cleveland or poverty or the state of homelessness. Entries are written by board or staff of the Coalition. The opinions contained in this blog reflect the views of the author of the post. This blog features information on shelters, affordable housing, profiles, statistics, trends, and upcoming events relating to homelessness. We welcome comments, and will remove offensive or inappropriate messages. All postings are signed by the author.

Homeless Voting
Wednesday
Jun292016

Homeless Congress Notes for June 2016

The June 9th Homeless Congress meeting was the last meeting before the RNC, so it was important to discuss the changes in the voting process for the upcoming presidential election.

 Ed is a long term member of Homeless CongreFirst, it was reported that Voting Golden Week is back, which allows anyone not registered to register and vote on the same day.  Golden Week is the first week of October.  Between October 5th and 12th is the tentative dates for Golden Week, but this has not been confirmed because it is currently being appealed. 

 NEOCH did win the lawsuit pertaining to Absentee ballots after thousands of ballots were thrown out in the past for something as small as putting in one wrong digit in your zip code.  Information on what is allowed was discussed in detail to ensure that residents are prepared for the upcoming election and NEOCH will be registering anyone that is not registered over the summer.

 NEOCH is also suing because many voters were purged from the voting roles.   The state did not follow the proper procedure in the purge.  Anyone who has not voted since 2008 probably was purged. 

 Members were informed and encouraged to join the Office of Homeless Services Advisory Board.  The current Board members are encouraged to be on a sub-committee.  The term is 2yrs. or 3 yrs.. This will allow the Congress members to better understand what is needed to address the problems they are having to overcome homelessness and be better prepared to address any barriers to housing.  They were also informed that it will not be a problem to use the West Side Catholic Center as their voting address after discussion with the US Postal Service.

 The problems and concerns addressed at the hearing were the next topic of discussion.  The 13 solutions recommended by the Homeless Congress on how to reform the Community Women’s Shelter were discussed and the May 2016 Congress meeting with Cuyahoga County Council President Dan Brady.  He agreed to try to meet the deadline set by Congress for September 2016 which states that “if changes are not implemented by September 2016, the Homeless Congress will revisit the idea of changing the service provider who oversees the Community Women’s Shelter."

Then there was a discussion about the upcoming RNC, and the lawsuit filed by the NEOCH and Organize Ohio by the ACLU.   The problems that the RNC will impose on the homeless population was also addressed. To name a few:  The event zone territory encompasses “4 of the 5 largest shelters in Cleveland, a daytime drop in center and the healthcare for the homeless site”, and the “prohibited items are common items that homeless people carry everyday”. 

 Brian Davis wrote a letter to the Chief of Police to voice his concerns and to advocate for the homeless population to avoid any unnecessary arrests.  He asked that 1) “The event zone be reduced in size”, 2) “Homeless people should be cited as residents who are exempt in Section III (c) …” This is especially important with all the out of town police coming in … or the important bond of trust built up over the years between homeless service providers and the Cleveland Police Department or”, 3) The City could provide $85,000 for two months’ worth of rental assistance…” to put displaced individuals in “housing for the summer”…

 At the time of this meeting a law suit had not been filed.  One was later filed by Organize! Ohio, NEOCH, and Citizens for Trump for various reasons. [In late June, these organizations won the lawsuit.  Organize! Ohio’s complaint was in regard route limitations for the upcoming March to End Poverty 2016 and permits, NEOCH’s was in regard to the restrictions that effect the homeless population and access to services etc.. and Citizens for Trump’s was permit and limitations specific to march routes.]

 The Bishop Cosgrove Center will be closed during the RNC, but shelters will be open. 

 The Justice Center is also doing their part by clearing out a few beds to accommodate for possible arrests.  There was a brief discussion of the ability for those who use the shelter and get a disability check, which we will take up in the future.   Congress needs to focus the August meeting on priorities for the next year. 

 by Ramona Turnbull

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

 

Tuesday
Jun282016

Updates to Homeless Voting Section of Website

In preparation for the important upcoming November 2016 election, we’ve updated the Homeless Voting section of our website! Click here or on the “Vote” Button on our many of the pages on the website and you’ll see an updated menu with current information for the 2016 election.

We have an overview of the pertinent voting information, NEOCH’s voting plan for 2016, FAQ about homeless voting, a voting checklist, and a flyer on the importance of voting. There are also links to external sites with relevant information. On the Voting Blog, I’ve added posts about recent changes in Ohio voting laws. These include NEOCH’s victory in its lawsuit against Secretary of State Husted, the restoration of Golden Week, Gov. Kasich’s veto of a potential restrictive voting law, and the recent purge of voter registration records.  

by Megan Shanklin

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Monday
Jun272016

ACLU Settles Lawsuit with City of Cleveland Over RNC

ACLU representing NEOCH, Organize Ohio and Citizen's for Trump sued the City of Cleveland two weeks ago.  In a whirlwind case before Federal District Court Judge James Gwin.  The ACLU and NEOCH won in the first hearing on this issue, and the City of Cleveland immediately filed an appeal.  There were hours of negotiations last Thursday and then back and forth hammering out a written settlement.  As soon as we get the settlement agreement, we will post it.  Here is some new coverage, both national and local on the issue. 

The PBS Newshour covered the story here. 

  • District Judge Gwin ruled City’s protest regulations unconstitutional, ordered negotiations
  • ACLU argued that City’s Event Zone was too large, and that rules within it were too restrictive; judge agreed
  • ACLU and City came to an agreement Friday, settlement is likely to be finalized Monday
  • Citizens for Trump and Organize Ohio sued due to protest restrictions
  • NEOCH sued because some prohibited items in the Event Zone are needed by homeless who live there

The Cleveland Plain Dealer had some very good coverage of the lawsuit and the settlement here.  They also published a nice editorial about how bad these rules were for protestors and homeless people here.

  • Agreement reached Friday between ACLU and City will result in smaller Event Zone
  • New Zone will exclude west side of Cuyahoga River and public parks
  • The hours of the protest will be longer so that they correspond to when delegates are actually present in Cleveland.
  • Deal includes longer parade route that are closer to the site of the convention. 
  • Event Zone restrictions will not apply to homeless population.
  • "Negotiations are being handled by U.S. District Judge Dan Polster, who is known for his ability to broker settlements," according to the Plain Dealer.

The Toledo Blade had a good summary of the story here and tied the story to the lawsuit filed in Philadelphia over the Democratic convention. 

  • District Judge Gwin ruled Thursday that City’s event zone restrictions violated First Amendment
  • Dismissed lawsuit filed by ACLU on behalf of Citizens for Trump, Organize Ohio and NEOCH and ordered mediation by District Judge Polster on Friday
  • Shortly after settlement announced Friday, ACLU of PA filed a lawsuit in US District Court in Philadelphia regarding restrictions during Democratic National Convention.

The LA Times also gave a summary of the story here and had colorful language about the free speech implications.

  • In court Thursday, ACLU argued that RNC Event Zone was a “black hole for 1st Amendment activities”; City countered that Cleveland’s regulations were less restrictive than other cities
  • District Judge Gwin ruled that “unduly large” security zone was not tailored to security issues
  • Gwin ordered negotiations between the ACLU and the City in order to narrow the restrictions

Here is the coverage from Channel 3 WKYC

Here is the Atlantic magazine coverage is here.

Politico's story focused on how both pro and anti-Trump protests under the City's original plan were going to be in the same are causing issues of possible turmoil.

The American Bar Association Journal talked about the judge questioning how the City could successfully stage a CAVS championship parade for a million, but could not handle a couple thousand protestors.  "However, Gwin questioned the city’s reasoning and asked how the convention protests were different from the more than 1 million people who filled downtown Wednesday for the Cleveland Cavaliers’ NBA championship parade and “traveled through streets in what will become the event zone,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported."

by Brian Davis and Megan the 2016 Intern

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Monday
Jun272016

End Poverty Now Protest Set After Lawsuit

After the Federal Court decision, the protest can go on.  Make your plans to travel the East Side of Cleveland to end at Chester Commons.  Hope that you can make it.  There is a nice t-shirt available from Organize!Ohio for a $15 donation. 

Brian Davis

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Sunday
Jun262016

Posted Hearing Transcript on Our Website

NEOCH HAS POSTED VIDEO AND TRANSCRIPT OF COUNTY COUNCIL’S

COMMUNITY WOMEN'S SHELTER HEARING

Many of you have been following NEOCH’s role of assistance to the women who live at the Community Women's Shelter to challenge those who administer the shelter for much needed change.  After hundreds of complaints funneled through NEOCH by the women who live at the facility and have ardently labeled the shelter “House of Payne” or HOP for short, the County Council finally had a formal hearing on May 4th.  The Health and Human Services Committee opened the door for the women to formally air their grievances and discuss their frustrations about the conditions at the shelter.

NEOCH has posted the hearing on their website in two ways.  1) A link to the actual YouTube video of the hearing so you can watch it, and 2) a transcription of the actual hearing for you to read.  We have divided it up into easier to read sections (see below).

To get to the video and transcript of the hearing:

From our homepage: (http://www.neoch.org/) - across the top and under our banner is the directory, Go to “Solutions”, then click on “HOP Shelter Hearing”, both the video and transcript can be found there. 

Here is a direct link to both video and transcript:

 http://www.neoch.org/hop-shelter-hearing/

The transcript of the resident's part of the hearing is on one page, starting with the introduction, roll call and agenda.  Following the agenda, four women who are current and one former residents of the shelter address the council with their personal concerns and grievances who speak for many women.  Ramona Turnbull, Linda Reynolds, Iris Wiley, Danielle Smith and Alyssa Wiemer gave testimonies of the struggles and the suffering faced by the residents on a daily basis.  Their voices are representative of uncounted women who have had the same issues and obstacles over the years with staff members, condescending attitudes mistreatment, and disrespect.   There were problems discussed around health issues including problems with a lack of bedrest to very little help for a pregnant woman.  Discussion involved issues with overcrowding, safety, fear of being beaten up, a lack of help for drug and alcohol issues and a continuous list of items that demoralized these women and still goes without solutions.

We have two pages of testimony by the executive director of NEOCH, Brian Davis.  He responded by  letting council know the issues are real, the environment is toxic and that it’s been difficult getting anyone to respond.  In working with the women he asked for four items to be that would have an immediate impact on the success of the shelter.  Council then questioned Davis and that is another page.  Then the County staff who funds all the shelter, Ruth Gillet of the Office Homeless Services testified and answered questions.  She surprisingly did not have any prepared statement about the shelter even though the women have complained about this shelter for years.  Then Frontline Services 2cd in Command Eric Morse and Director of Emergency Services, LaTonya Murray responded to the list of issues.  Morse did have a prepared statement.

We at NEOCH appreciated the opportunity to have this hearing and bring up the concerns of the residents at the women’s shelter.  These concerns provide a horrible experience for those taxpayers down on their luck, and we have heard the same complaints and problems over and over for the last decade.

NEOCH would appreciate your feedback.  What do you think about the complaints of the women and the answers given by the county and Frontline Services?  Please feel free to leave a comment at our discussion page.

by Denise Toth

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