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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.

Thursday
Jul302015

Homeless People Need Help Even in Summer

There is a family of 3, soon to be 4 whom Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless has helped find an apartment on the westside of Cleveland. This family has no possessions! They moved into their apartment 2 days ago and now they are in need of everything except appliances. They need beds, or mattresses, furniture (baby items needed by December). All kitchen supplies, linens, etc. They need a fan immediately if anyone has an extra one. The 3 year old girl could use some toys also. He is working spot labor and is in search of a full-time job. If anyone can help this family out, please call Randall or Denise (street outreach worker at NEOCH) at 216-432-0540 or email housingcleveland@neoch.org.

The number of families asking for help is also up at Coordinated Intake in Cleveland.  They could use diapers and other items for toddlers and babies.  They need female hygiene items and everyone can use hygiene kits.  We have a list of items that NEOCH collects and you can drop off at NEOCH from 9 to 4:30 any day.  Sometimes we even have hours on the weekend.  The Coordinated intake site is at 1736 Superior on the second floor from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.   This is in the Cosgrove Center and they take clothing and distribute them to homeless people on the first floor.   Please remember homeless people suffer in this hot weather and our homeless family population grow dramatically in the summer. 


Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Wednesday
Jul292015

Thanks Senator Whitehouse and Portman for Helping Homeless Youth

With the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, a special thanks must be given to Senator Rob Portman of Ohio for including provisions to aid youth facing homelessness and addiction.

Senator Portman proposed Senate Amendment 2147, along with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island as a cosponsor.1 The amendment expanded drug and violence prevention grants to youth students who are battling addiction.2 In reference to drug abuse in Ohio, on the Senate floor, Portman importantly stated, “It is growing. It is a huge problem. The No. 1 cause of death now in Ohio is overdose from these drugs. It is no longer car accidents, as it has been in the past. We must focus on this issue, and the most effective way, of course, is through prevention and education, which I strongly support, and it is in the underlying bill.” The amendment proposed by Senator Portman specifically expanded the previous legislation to include support services for those battling drug abuse.

The second amendment, No. 2087, proposed by Senator Portman, along with Senator Diane Feinstein of California, seeks to streamline the HUD process to homeless resources for homeless youth. The current process is very strict as to who is considered homeless. A child or teen living out of a motel is one case that is not considered homelessness even though most of society would consider them homeless. Senator Portman’s amendment would allow school officials to write a letter to HUD certifying a student’s homelessness.3 This would streamline a process that usually requires homelHomeless Children and Youth Advocates from CMSD Project ACTess youth filling out 10-12 documents.

The work done by Senator Portman’s office was one small step in advancing the Homeless Children and Youth Act. We are pleased to see Senator Portman taking up work to aid homeless youth, and are hoping that he will continue his efforts to see the full Homeless Children and Youth Act passed.

Dan the Intern

 

Tuesday
Jul212015

WCPN Looks At Homeless Youth in Cleveland

A nice portrait (not of any of the guests on WCPN) by David HaganFrom The Sound of Ideas episode on July 9th, 2015 with Mike McIntyre, Tasha Jones, Gary Stanger, Robert L. Fischer, Kate Lodge, and Angela D’Orazio

A link to the story http://www.ideastream.org/programs/sound-of-ideas/plan-young-adults-aging-out-foster-care

Recently, on WCPN’s The Sound of Ideas, a discussion was hosted on aging out of foster care and youth homelessness. Mike McIntyre hosted five members of the community related to poverty and homelessness, including a homeless youth by the name of Tasha Jones, Gary Stanger of Jim Casey Youth Opportunities, Robert L. Fischer of CWRU, Kate Lodge of A Place 4 Me Initiative, and Angela D’Orazio of the Sisters of Charity Foundation. 

Tasha was a foster child, who aged out of the foster care system, and at graduation she found herself homeless with nowhere to go.  Sadly, this is the story for many young people locally. Every year 120 teens age out of foster care in the area, and CWRU’s studies show that these youth are five times more likely to be homeless.  Tasha found herself staying at family member’s house, and then living in bus shelters.  Though Tasha points out that homelessness is technically defined as being registered under a shelter or on the streets, but does not count those who stay with friends in basements or on couches.  Eventually, Tasha found herself at a woman’s shelter in Cleveland, but was not there often due to being in school at the Cuyahoga County Community College.  After a month at the shelter, Tasha was lucky enough to meet Kate Lodge and received a place at a transitional housing unit.

Tasha talked about her difficulty getting food while staying at the Women's Shelter with her Tri-C class schedule.  "I wasn't eating, I did not eat for almost two months,"  according to Tasha.  She could not get the shelter staff to save her a dinner because she got back in the evening and she was in class during lunch.  Breakfast was too late and dinner was too early for Tasha to be able to get food at the shelter. She suggested that the shelters need to work with the people on their specific issues and not force people to work around the shelter's schedule.  She was taking classes so she did not have money to buy food, and she was starving all the time. Thanks to the people at the Tri-C foodbank for intervening and figuring out that Tasha was not getting enough food. 

Despite Tasha having a hard time, Gary Stanger mentions how many youth are not even as lucky as Tasha to meet the right people to get into programs. He also notes that the technical definition of homelessness does not really count the numerous youth that are going from place to place. He goes on to state, “when they [young people] show up to the shelter that means that they ran out of friends.” 

When asked about increased funding, D’Orazio notes that funders are focusing on coordination between groups to see how their results turn out.  With continued planning, a strategy has developed among many agencies and there is an important need to show those funding programs where they fit in the strategy. 

Fischer studies poverty and in his research has found that among the homeless youth only those unaccompanied by a guardian are counted.  So, in actuality, the number is much higher.  Also, the numbers show that, in the area, 95% of unaccompanied youth are 18-24 and 85% are African-American.  The average homeless youth is 20 years-old and 81% of the unemployed homeless youth are actively search for a job.  As for LGBTQ youth, the numbers are staggering.  Fischer mentions that about one third of homeless youth are lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, or queer.

Later, the discussion shifts to transitional housing and permanent supportive housing.  Kate Lodge makes the argument that, though funding is shifting from transitional to supportive, transitional housing is pivotal for the youth.  She goes on to mention the importance of living in a college dorm for many youth and how that shapes them for the future.  To Lodge, transitional housing helps to provide a similar effect for homeless youth, while also providing a safe place to live.  

by Dan the intern

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Monday
Jul202015

ADA Celebration in Cleveland

Wednesday, July 22 at Wade Oval from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm

Join us for entertainment, adaptive sports, activities, food, and fun in celebration of
the Americans with Disabilities Act!

1:00 to 4:00 pm: Interactive activities at agency tables. Activity categories include: fine and performing arts, sports and recreation, health care, home choice, housing options, assistive technologies, education, advocacy, and awareness.

11:00 am              Opening remarks and event kick-off
11:30 am              Performance: The Company of Dancing Wheels
12:00 pm              Remarks by Frank Jackson, Mayor of Cleveland
12:15 pm              Speeches and Awards
1:00 pm                Keynote speaker: Scott Fedor
1:00 pm                Cleveland’s Q104 live remote broadcast and Street Team
1:30 pm                Performance: School of Dancing Wheels “ADA Performance”
2:20 pm                Video presentation: Lives Worth Living
3:00 pm                Performance: Councilman Kevin Conwell & The Footprints Band
4:00 pm                Closing remarks

6:00 to 9:00 pm: Wade Oval Wednesday features the band Flame. Many of our organization tents will stay open to continue the fun!

While not as historic as the Civil Rights era legislation of the Fair Housing Law, the American with Disabilities act has changed our society.  Curb cuts and making buildings accessible to those with mobility challenges is historic.  Activists are celebrating this important law in our society.  Still waiting for all the shelters to be ADA compliant, but we should still celebrate this law.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

PS: Maybe someone can answer why miniature horses are the only other animal listed with dogs as service animals in the ADA?

Saturday
Jul182015

"Functional Zero" for Homeless Veterans Confuses Public

HOMELESSNESS & “FUNCTIONAL ZERO:” A CRITIQUE

“Functional zero:  At any point in time, the number of people experiencing sheltered or unsheltered homelessness will be no greater than the current monthly housing placement rate for people experiencing homelessness.”

                                                   -- Community Solutions (A national Non-Profit working on building Permanent Supportive Housing with offices in New York, California and DC.)

“If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself”

                                                             - - Albert Einstein

For years homeless advocates have argued about the definition of homelessness and how inclusive or limited it should be.  This is not an esoteric exercise, since the answer drives federal resources.

Sadly, some researchers, consultants and advocates convinced Congress years ago to a much more limited definition of homelessness along with focusing resources first on the chronically homeless, with veterans, families and youth all next in line.  This was done of the fallacious argument that once we ended chronic homelessness, we could then devote resources to ending it for the next sub-population.  This did not happen and hundreds of thousands of people experiencing homelessness have remained invisible to our leaders at all levels.

“When people are invisible, you can’t find a solution because you don’t see them”

                                   - Marc Uhry, Fondation Abbe Pierre

Ten year plans to end homelessness are in their second decade or abandoned altogether.

Rather than focus on the systemic and structural systems and policies that have created three decades of mass homelessness – beginning with President Reagan devastating the federal affordable housing budget by 75% in 1980; the continuing dismantling of local, state and federal housing, social services, health and mental health budgets; discharge policies from prisons, jails, hospital and foster care that routinely discharge people to the streets and a minimum wage that keeps people shackled to poverty – we now seek to arrest and define our way out of homelessness

Criminalization of homelessness:   

Despite the admonition by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness [USICH] to communities to move away from trying to “arrest their way out of homelessness,” the number of anti-homeless ordinances in the nation has proliferated.  For example, the Sacramento city has 11 municipal codes that criminalize people experiencing homeless – five for standing, sitting and resting in public places; five for camping in public places and three that criminalize begging or panhandling. 

Prisons and jails have become the housing for people experiencing homelessness, especially people of color and those with mental health issues.

Functional zero: 

Couple this with the newest trend to define our way out of homelessness. 

Community Solutions has created the term “functional zero” which took them three pages of definitional “metrics” to operationalize. What would Einstein say?

Basically, a community can still have 10,000 homeless people, for example, but if  that community can say the number of people entering homelessness is equal to the number exiting- they have reached “functional zero” --- forget the  10,000 languishing on the streets and in shelters. 

This term is harmful and counter-productive to addressing the myriad of reasons why people become homeless and is dismissive of the systemic reasons why people become homeless.

In no other walk of life do we use the term “functional zero”- to end hunger; ending domestic violence; ending gun violence?  Ending discrimination?  In no other walk of life do we address a crisis by redefining it and settling on homeostasis as the new reality.

It is harmful because when politicians and community members hear “zero”- they hear we have ended homelessness – not what Community Solutions has defined it to mean.   Then when it is time to allocate scarce public resources it would not be unreasonable for the public and/or elected officials to argue we don’t need as many resources for homelessness because we have solved it!  Yet we know nothing could be further from the truth.

We have entered into a new era of becoming more sophisticated about managing homelessness – creating a new way to define status quo – however we rapidly move the same number of people entering homelessness as who exit.

Salt Lake City, Houston, New Orleans and Phoenix:    These four cities have become the poster cities for “functional zero” in ending homelessness – which make great headlines and sound bites.  But, look at the numbers and what they really meant was ending veteran homelessness …. Oopps …. Not really … chronic (long term) veteran homelessness…. And they haven’t even done that.

Take a hard look at the numbers and trends that each of these four cities report to HUD annually [Source: Homeless Point in Time Count and Housing Inventory Count, 2012, 2013 and 2014]. [ NEOCH has posted the full graph in our Information Blog here. ]

Trends in the four “functional zero” cities:  2012 – 2014:

  • Total number of homeless veterans in the four cities in 2014 was 1,392;
  • Salt Lake City: the number of homeless veterans increased from 247 [2013] to 275 [2014];
  • Total number of homeless people in 2014 was 15,357
  •  The number of total homeless people increased in Salt Lake City from 2,123 [2013] to 2,150 [2014] and in Phoenix from 5,889 [2013] to 5,918 [2014];
  • The total number of Permanent Supportive Housing Units (PSH) in the Four cities in 2014 was 8,831 or 57.5% of the total number of homeless people;
  • The total number of PSH units in New Orleans decreased from 2,670 [2013] to 2,464 [2014].

Clearly none of these cities can legitimately claim they have ended veteran homelessness, yet they have been successful at creating the new urban myth that if we just do what these cities have done we can end homelessness as well. 

USICH:  Federal agencies that belong to USICH have recently moved away from using the “functional zero” terminology and adopted the new “operational definition of ending homelessness” contained in USICH’s recently released amended federal homelessness plan Opening Doors:

An end to homelessness means that every community will have a systematic response in place that ensures homelessness is prevented whenever possible or is otherwise a rare, brief, and non-recurring experience.

This “new” definition of ending homelessness essentially is a retooled “functional zero” definition dressed in new terms.  Of course we want a rapid and systematic response to preventing homelessness.  However, the new paradigm fails to address how we get to that point in the first place.  What about the people who are currently experiencing homelessness?

Tragically for people experiencing homelessness, USICH has opted to size the definition of ending homelessness, based on limited existing federal resources rather than right size the resources to fit the homeless crisis in this nation.

Zero means zero:

While SRCEH supports a “rapid-same-day” response to homelessness, we refuse to abdicate to arresting and defining our way out of homelessness.  Yet, a new report by HUD, Family Options Study, has shown that the rapid rehousing approach is not nearly as effective as a housing voucher strategy.

SRCEH remains committed to galvanizing the political and community will that “zero” truly means ending and preventing homelessness in our community. 

No definitional gimmicks...No smoke...No mirrors.

As a community we first must stop criminalizing people experiencing homelessness and focus on  creating enough affordable housing, social services, health and mental health care and living wage jobs and income that we end and prevent homelessness.

We can end and prevent homelessness if we are intentional about moving beyond sound-bite jargon and squarely address the homeless crisis as a social justice issue and support housing and health care as basic human rights.

Bob Erlenbusch, Executive Director,

Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness [SRCEH]

July 2015

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.