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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.

The Cleveland Street Chronicle
Jim Schlecht Event
Friday
Oct132017

Join us for our Housing 101 workshop on October 20th and December 1st from 10am to 1pm 

Thursday
Oct052017

HOMELESS CONGRESS Notes-- SEPTEMBER 14, 2017 -- COSGROVE

 

After introductions of those in attendance, and giving an overview of the Homeless Congress (what it is; how it functions; where and how to address complaints), Christopher Knestrick asked for the approval of, or additions to, the meeting’s Agenda.

INTOXICATED WOMEN AT NORMA HERR - A resident of the Norma Herr Women’s Shelter voiced a concern regarding intoxicated women being allowed to stay in the shelter. She stated that intoxicated women were not allowed in a women’s shelter she’d been in Columbus. Mike Moguel, from 2100 Lakeside Homeless Men’s Shelter, explained that in Cleveland, “…we’d rather try to help people, than turn them away.”

REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL SUBMITTED - Loh stated that an organization, (whose name Loh did not mention), had submitted an RFP (Request for Proposal) to take over the operation of Norma Herr Women’s Shelter. She was pleased that neither the Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry (LMM), nor Frontline Services had submitted an RFP, and felt that the organization that submitted the proposal would be able to turn Norma Herr around and turn it into a functional shelter. When residents asked why representatives from that organization were not at the Homeless Congress, Chris mentioned that they (YWCA) wanted to talk with the Norma Herr residents and we are trying to find a time to do that.

SECURITY - A few present, and some former, residents remarked that staff and security do relatively little regarding violent situations that occur at Norma Herr. Staff doesn’t police violent behavior, security tends to turn a blind eye when incidents occur. One resident stated that the off-duty police officers who work as security for shelter “…need to work, and not just collect paychecks!” If on-duty Cleveland Police officers are called, the officers ask staff how they want the situation(s) to be handled.

LACK OF PROGRAMMING - Residents also believe that the lack of structure and the lack of programming available for the women contribute greatly to the number of fights that occur. As one resident declared, “The women fight because there is nothing else to do at the shelter!”

ADAMHS BOARD/SHELTER FOR PEOPLE WITH MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES – Chris invited input from the Congress regarding the next step(s) to take regarding the letter sent to the ADAMHS Board, June 30, 2017, about the need for a shelter for women with mental health issues. It was suggested that because Valeria Harper recently replaced William Denihan as Chief Executive Officer, and is getting up to speed with her new position, maybe another letter should be sent for her to review. Another suggestion was for members of the Homeless Congress to make phone calls to City and County Council members. Loh stated that she would attend the next ADAMHS Board meeting -September 27, 2017 at 4:30p.m., in order to encourage the board to review the letter.

CRISIS INTERVENTION CALLS - Quality Assurance Committee looked in to the number of Crisis Intervention calls made by the Men’s and Women’s Homeless Shelters:

  • ·         2015-2016 – #1 2100 Lakeside Homeless Men’s Shelter – the most calls for crisis intervention
  • ·         2015-2016 - #2 2727 Payne Avenue, Norma Herr Women’s Shelter

Mike Moguel, of 2100 Lakeside, said the men’s shelter had a lot of EMS calls due to residents suffering from seizures and drug overdoses. 2100 has partnered with Care Alliance, and has a nurse who comes to the shelter three times a week for the residents. Looking into spending money in order to have an additional nurse onsite at the men’s shelter. A Nurse Practitioner from Care Alliance is needed to see to the needs of the residents by conducting healthy diet programs, budgeting for food and nutrition issues addressed.

CHRIS suggested Inviting shelter providers –Frontline, Ruth Gillett to talk to Norma Herr residents regarding health concerns that are not taken into consideration at the shelter.

A North Point resident stated that unlike the shelters at 2100 and Norma Herr, North Point is Transitional Housing. He said that North Point is very much like Job Corps, with the population’s average age being 24 years and older. He also said that there has been an alleged sexual assault at North point, and many more calls to EMS that the staff has not been aware of.

Questions were raised about why a person has to stay in a homeless shelter for such a long period of time before getting help. It was explained that the length of the stay is necessary in order to declare a person chronically homeless and thereby get the assistance they are entitled to. A person is considered chronically homeless if they have experienced four episodes of homelessness in a three-year period, or one episode of one year.

TRUTH COMMISSION ON POVERTY – Chris reminded the Congress that the Cleveland Truth Commission on Poverty will take place Saturday, October 14, 2017 at Franklin Circle Church, from 10a.m.-4p.m., and encouraged attendees to provide written and in-person testimonies. Loh and Rosie Palfy said that they planned to attend.

DELORES GRAY – Dolores Gray, a community activist, business owner of Women on the Move –an organization which helps women and families find employment, and Zumba instructor, spoke briefly about the importance of voting and the upcoming mayoral primary. She assisted Homeless Congress attendees, who were not registered to vote, with completing voter registration forms.

Attendees were reminded that the next Homeless Congress meeting will take place Thursday October 12, 2017at 1 p.m. at Cosgrove in the St. Peter’s Room.

Monday
Sep252017

Family Homelessness Crisis Needs to be Addressed

 

“Mommy, where we at? The shelter again?”- Amaya, age 3.


Homelessness is not just a solitary struggle. The reality is 41% of homeless are comprised of families, a large majority of which are headed by single-mothers. Mothers and children are the fastest growing homeless demographic. In Cleveland, this crisis is growing, and it’s growing fast. We sought to explore the impact it’s having on the already precarious shelter system.

For a family, the path to access emergency housing in Cleveland is facilitated through Cuyahoga County’s Coordinated Intake office (run by Frontline). This one-stop-shop process is designed to direct families to need-appropriate resources within the community. Families are meant to be placed into a shelter or “diverted.”  Diversion, a policy that NEOCH does not support, seeks to place families in non-shelter locations such as with friends or family. Only once they are in a shelter will they be assigned a caseworker or seen if they are eligible for the Rapid Re-housing program. Rapid Re-housing is the only county program available to move families out of the shelter system. Unfortunately, permanent supportive housing is not available to families because the federal funding for the program is reserved for single adults. This system of giving resources only once the family is placed in the shelter means the family’s future is dependent on obtaining a spot in one of the city’s shelters. Families are thus beholden to the hope that these shelters aren’t at capacity.

 Hope doesn’t get them far though: family shelters in Cleveland have been at capacity for a while. Because all the family shelters are full, families are then sent to the overflow program at the City Mission if they are not diverted. Their family overflow program houses roughly 20 mothers and 30 children each night in their gym. It should be noted that the City Mission began the family overflow program in their gym last year in September 2016 because so many families were already being turned away since the other family shelters were full. The overflow program was meant to be a temporary solution to the crisis afflicting families, giving the County time to come up with alternatives. But quickly, it too has reached capacity, and there is still a lack of any concerted effort on the County to even acknowledge there is a family homelessness crisis.

What happens when even the overflow shelter is at capacity? First, countless women and children must continue fending for themselves, having been told by both the shelters and the single overflow program that they are at capacity. Second, the lives of those in the shelter are even more strained than normal since the shelters aren’t equipped to handle this quantity and those in the overflow program can’t be connected to resources until they are officially in a shelter. In the overflow, they will wait for weeks in a gym to be placed in a shelter.

We talked to several families who are currently staying in the overflow shelter to learn more. Tierra, who became homeless after issues with her abusive boyfriend, told us her's and her 3-year-old daughter's "daily routine". They leave City Mission gym before it closes at 7am, carrying all their belongings with them. Then, they gets shuttled to Cosgrove Center where she must wait outside on the street with her 3-year-old child and belongings till its 8am opening time. After eating breakfast and lunch there, she leaves Cosgrove Center at its 2:30 closing time. Having nowhere to go at that point, she takes takes her child to the beach or library till 7pm when the City Mission opens again. Then, she falls asleep with countless other families on the gym floor of City Mission and attempts to sleep till the next morning.

In the absence of a stable shelter situation, families must expend a great deal of energy to simply go from place to place. Any semblance of consistency or normalcy is gone. Under this flux, struggles compound and build on one another quickly. One mother, Simera, has been at Overflow in the City Mission for a month now. She has been struggling to obtain medicine for her months-old son who’s sick. Another mother, Joanna, laments the fact that her teenage son, Draymond, is unable to attend school. He's already missed the first few critical weeks of school, who knows how many more he’ll miss this year?  The crisis and trauma of homelessness makes it difficult for her to get her son back into the CMSD. What is a mom to do when they are simply trying to survive?  

Also, the families who are in overflow shelter have no assigned caseworker who monitors them and keeps them up to date on the status of obtaining a permanent spot at a shelter. The lack of a transparent criteria or process for obtaining housing heightens this uncertainty; none of the families we spoke to knew what the criteria was to determine the order for families receiving shelter placements. Is it the number of children a mother has? Is it how long the family has been in the shelter? Is it the perceived likelihood the family maintains housing? None of the families knew for certain.

In one year from September 2016 to August 2017, the family overflow program at the  City Mission went from providing 71 nights of shelter for 23 women and 48 children to last month providing 1016 nights of shelter for 336 women and 680 children. That’s a 1400% increase in nights of shelter provided in one year. The county NEEDS to address this situation, and they NEED to address it FAST. There is a severe, growing crisis of family homelessness. Temporary bandaids like the City Mission’s emergency family overflow have quickly become permanent bandaids.

The county has proposed Rapid Re-Housing as THE solution to the crisis of family homelessness. However, this program is facing serious difficulties. Rent is only guaranteed for 3 months, tenants are given only 30 days to find housing, and some families are even unable to pay rent afterwards that period expires. Shelters are having difficulty finding landlords to take Rapid Re-housing, as they’re in a difficult situation, as they risk a possible eviction if there is no permanent income to pay the rent. We are now even seeing cases where families are re-entering the shelter system after attempting Rapid Re-housing.

The options for homeless families become extremely limited. Family homelessness is clearly going up. Yet, the Office of Homeless Services claimed in a letter that “the number of families accessing emergency shelter through the Coordinated Entry System has been relatively the same over the past several years.”  NEOCH disagrees. We believe that we are in a crisis and other service providers agree. Something needs to be done.

The fact that a mother and her four month old child need to sleep on a gym floor for a month before they have any access to shelter services is the heartbreaking reality. Ultimately, to deny that there is a crisis is irresponsible, as the lack of further solutions to address this community crisis will continue to hurt the women and children who need support in a time of their individual crisis.

By Vishal Reddy 

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

 

Tuesday
Sep192017

NEOCH's Voter Purge Case goes to the US Supreme Court. 

In a press release on September 18th 2017, Demos and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)  annouced that they will take NEOCH's purge case to the US Supreme Court.

They "filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court detailing how Ohio is violating the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) by targeting registered voters who fail to vote in a two-year period for eventual removal from the registration rolls — even if they have not moved and are still fully eligible.

 Targeting people for removal simply based on non-voting is a powerful tool of voter suppression. In 2015 alone, over 40,600 registrants in Ohio’s largest county, Cuyahoga, were purged from the rolls using this flawed process, and countless Ohioans have been denied their right to vote as a result of these unlawful purges. These purges are in direct violation of the National Voting Rights Act (NVRA)—that explicitly states that voters can be removed if and when they are ineligible to vote—not voting often enough does not make a person ineligible

The widespread disenfranchisement caused by Ohio’s purge process spurred NEOCH and the Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI), and Ohio resident Larry Harmon to challenge the practice in federal court. A federal appeals court ruled against Ohio, finding that Ohio’s purge practice violated the NVRA’s prohibition on removing registrants from the rolls for not voting. The state appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, which will hear arguments in this case, Husted v. Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute, on November 8th"

As we have seen time and time again, homeless voters and other marginalized voters have to fight to make their voices heard in the electoral process. We worked hard to bring these voters into the electoral process, but unfortunately, the state of Ohio’s practice of purging registrants for their failure to vote locks the doors to the ballot box for many of these voters, which we believe is in violation of federal law and jeopardizes our democratic process.  

Here is a quick fact sheet about the Husted v. APRI 

Ohio’s Attempt to Purge Our Democracy

Ohio election officials use a controversial procedure to target voters for removal from the registration rolls based on their failure to vote “frequently” enough – a procedure known as the “Supplemental Process.” Under this process, Ohio counties initiate a removal procedure targeted at any voter who has failed to vote in a two-year period. Ohio assumes that anyone who has not voted in a two-year period must have become ineligible to vote by reason of a change in residence.  Based on that questionable assumption, Ohio targets these voters with a mailing requiring them to confirm that they are still eligible to vote.  If the voter does not respond to the notice or vote in the subsequent four-year period, the voter’s name is stripped from the registration rolls.

Many voters only vote in presidential elections, every four years. That does not mean they have changed their address or lost their eligibility to vote – instead it could mean that they are less interested in mid-term elections; or that they had work or family responsibilities that made it difficult to vote in a particular election. Nonetheless, many voters in Ohio get caught up in the state’s purge practice time and time again – finding themselves under constant threat of being removed from the voter rolls. And, if a voter sits out a single presidential election cycle, they are in danger of being purged from the rolls, even if nothing about their eligibility to vote has changed.

In 2015, hundreds of thousands of Ohio voters who had last voted in 2008 were removed from the voter registration rolls, with over 40,000 purged in Cuyahoga County alone. Many of these voters—as well as voters who had been purged under Ohio’s Supplemental Process in previous years—went to the polls in November 2015 and March 2016 only to learn that their names no longer appeared on the rolls, and were denied their fundamental right to vote. 

Case Background on Husted v. APRI

In 2016, after having notified Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted that Ohio’s Supplemental Process violates the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA), the public policy organization Dēmos and the ACLU of Ohio brought a lawsuit on behalf of the Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI), the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH), and Mr. Harmon, a Navy veteran who voted in 2008 but was ultimately purged under the Supplemental Process even though he was living at the same address and remained fully eligible to vote.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit struck down Ohio’s controversial purge of infrequent voters from its voter rolls in September 2016, finding that Ohio’s Supplemental Process violates the NVRA’s prohibition on removing voters from the rolls by reason of a voter’s failure to vote. The federal district court then entered an injunction covering the November 2016 presidential election that ultimately allowed more than 7,500 Ohioans to cast a ballot and have it counted in that election. All of these people were eligible voters who would have been denied their right to vote under Ohio’s unlawful process, if the District Court had not invalidated Ohio’s improper practices.

Secretary of State Jon Husted filed a petition for certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court requesting the Court review and overturn the Sixth Circuit’s decision. In May, the Supreme Court granted the petition; it will hear arguments on November 8. 

Summary of What’s at Stake

Ohio’s Supplemental Process is an illegal process that unfairly places the burden of re-registration on voters whose eligibility has not changed.

The NVRA was signed into law in 1993, with bipartisan support, to protect the right to vote, increase the number of registered voters, and ensure that states properly maintain their voter rolls.

 Accurate maintenance of the voting registry is important and necessary, but that is not what Ohio’s Supplemental Process does. Ohio’s voter purge practices are based on false assumptions and result in the indiscriminate removal of far too many eligible voters.

At a time when there are approximately 50 million eligible citizens not registered to vote, it is critical that the Supreme Court strike down Ohio’s illegal process and ensure that other states across the country do not follow Ohio’s example to unlawfully remove eligible voters from the rolls and deny them their constitutional right to vote.

 

 

 

 

Saturday
Sep092017

We add our voice to the concerns raised by The City Mission about the Family Homeless Crisis

 

There is a crisis in Cleveland - a terrible lack of resources for women and children who are experiencing homelessness. All of the family shelters are full and the overfull shelter is almost to capacity.  The county does not have shelter in place to give support to these families.  Rapid Re-housing is available but this program alone will never be enough. Thankfully, The City Mission, who runs the overflow, still remain committed to not turning anyone away. As of today, families have not been forced to sleep in the street.
 

However, there is no plan – no long term proposal being considered. There are no extra funds being made available. There is no solution which we can see.

Over the last year, NEOCH has voiced concern over the current lack of capacity and planning to provide women and children with housing and care. We are attempting to increase our own capacity to do more advocacy around this unrelenting crisis through our Hope for the Homeless campaign. We are currently in the process of our own study and advocacy program into the crisis.  

We have joined our voice with The City Mission, who has been leading conversations about what the community needs to do. In September, The City Mission responded to this crisis by opening their gymnasium as the family overflow shelter.  Since then they have taken the lead   in conversations with private individuals and religious communities to figure out how to respond to the crisis.  These conversations continue.

To learn more about the work of The City Mission, you can see the story recently done by Channel 5.  

Rich Trickle, the CEO of the City Mission, recently sent a letter to Mayor Frank Jackson and the President of the Cuyahoga County Council, Dan Brady, looking for a permanent solution to the crisis.

We add our voice to these concerns and believe that the county needs to find a long-term permanent solution to this crisis. NEOCH also believes in a Cleveland that cares for the families who live in our city. 

"This letter is an attempt to bring to your attention a critical need facing our city today. Right now in a Cleveland there are multitudes of homeless women and children and as city we are woefully underprepared to care for them or even meet their most basic needs. Currently there are only 4 facilities that provide beds and shelter for families (when I use the term family I’m referring to a mom and her kids): The City Mission - 55 rooms with 166 beds, Westside Catholic Center - 35 beds, The Salvation Army - 35 rooms and Family Promise - 8-10 families. Each of these facilities is full to overflowing. The City Mission (Laura’s Home) in addition to operating at capacity, receives on a monthly average 374 calls from moms (with a total of 776 children), 379 calls from single women, and 87 calls from pregnant women all requesting shelter at Laura’s Home. Unfortunately, because the facility is always full the answer is no, please keep calling. 

In addition, many women with their children report to Central Intake requesting shelter. Because Westside Catholic and the Salvation Army are full these requests are denied. The County does not have any emergency shelter in place to care for these dear families - they have no where for them to go. So, last September The City Mission volunteered to open its gym for the County to use as an emergency overflow shelter for families. Since then Central Intake sends moms and their children to our gym every night. The number has been steadily increasing - right now we are seeing, on a regular basis 20 moms and 30 kids, sleeping on mattresses on our gym floor each evening. These families are bused to our gym and begin arriving around 7 pm. In the morning, they are picked up and taken to the Bishop Cosgrove Center where they spend the day. In the evening the cycle begins again. Because these families are not yet placed in one of the three County approved shelters (Westside Catholic, Harbor Light or Family Promise) they are not given access to any services - they languish in limbo until space is available in an approved shelter. This is an appalling, unconscionable situation. Furthermore, the use of The City Mission gym was meant to be a temporary, short-term fix. I’m afraid it has become the solution.

Please do not mis-understand the intention of this letter. The City Mission is happy to provide our facility as a haven for these poor families. However, now that a year has gone by and there is no discussion, no expressed concern, and seemingly no permanent solution forthcoming, I’m alarmed. 

Cleveland is a great city. It is filled with compassionate, philanthropic people. I believe, if the people of Cleveland understood our current lack of care and provision for homeless women and children, they would be appalled. This isn’t right and it certainly doesn’t represent the heart of our great town. The City Mission stands ready to do whatever we can to help, but the County must step up and provide a permanent solution." 

Sincerely,

Rich

 

Chris Knestrick

 Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.