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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.

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Homeless Memorial Day 2014

Every year for the past 28 years, NEOCH has held a candlelight vigil to remember those who passed away while struggling with homelessness.   This year the Vigil will be:

at St. Malachi--Metanoia Project (enter off the parking lot in the back of the Recreation Center) on December 21, 2014 at 7 p.m.

This is part of the National Homeless Memorial Day and Ohio Homeless Memorial Day that is held in over 100 cities around the United States.  Right now we are collecting the names of homeless people who passed away.  It is during the busy holiday season, but it is respectful to pause and remember those struggling with housing.  We have the list of names from the past on our website here.

We will organize a ceremony to read the names and say a prayer that we do not have to read the names of people who die homeless in 2015.  The vigil is held at a program that serves homeless people so it is nice to have the service witnessed by people experiencing homelessness.  Members of the Coalition and the public are invited to participate.   Below is a flyer that you can distribute to friends.  

Candlelight Vigil Flyer

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.


Some are Not So Thankful This Holiday

The US Interagency Council on Homeless published a nice profile of a a new book about homelessness on their website.  This is the story of one author's son called "Losing Tim" and goes through the illness that took control of Paul Gionfriddo's son.  It is a nice profile of a mentally ill guy who needed housing from the perspective of his father.    

The Diane Rehm Show on Monday had an interesting show on homelessness.  It was a story of Dr. Robert Okin who studied the horrible mental health system in the United which allows millions over the last 30 years to live on the streets largely ignored and isolated.  Worth listening to on their podcast.

On any given night, more than half a million people in the U.S. are homeless, and up to 50 percent may be suffering from mental illness. One psychiatrist says these people have become invisible to the rest of us, and set out to learn about their lives. He spent two years talking to and photographing men and women living on the streets of San Francisco. What he found were histories of abuse, neglect, and resilience.

I guess capitalism does not reign supreme in the hotel industry.  The Radisson served as the overflow site in New York City which is serving a record number of family homeless paid to house families in the hotel.  Radisson staff were not happy to hear that the hotel was serving homeless families and has rejected any further bookings from the Department of Homeless Services even if they pay more.  The article says that there were no issues, but the hotel is concerned with the stigma associated with offering a place at the inn for homeless families.  Maybe they could open up their parking garage as was done in Bethlehem around 2000 years ago.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.


2015 Membership Campaign Starts Now

NEOCH has sent out its letters asking for your support for the upcoming year.  NEOCH is a membership organization in Cleveland, and we measure our success based on the number of members attracted to the organization.  We are able to go to politicians and say that we represent a membership base and we register homeless people to vote, so you need to listen to us.   We participate in lawsuits based on our membership base which includes individuals, homeless people and organizations.  We do not release our individual members names, but we set goals for overall numbers. 

As a member, we will provide invitations to special events, a periodic newsletter, and access to the member section of our website.  Membership funds are not targeted to one specific project, but can pay for flyers for the Homeless Memorial Day or letters to invite elected officials to Homeless Congress meetings.   We sent out a bumper sticker to many of those who we solicited.   We also provided a look at some of the successes for 2014 in our annual letter. 

  • We provide resources like the website and the Homeless Street Card, a list of services for homeless people, to thousands of people to help them out of homelessness.
  • We work with 35 regular volunteers to staff our legal clinics, publish a newspaper as an alternative to panhandling and collect thousands of blankets to distribute to those outside. This cuts down on the need to hire staff and spend money on administration.
  • Together with Community West Foundation, we have helped coordinate services between religious and student groups and professional outreach workers to build relationships with homeless people outside of the shelter system.  We have hired a liaison to build bridges and communication between those serving food and ministering to those outside and connect them with the housing and health care resources they need. 
  • We worked with the City Mission to protect women and children at Laura’s Home from government overreaching that prevented them from accessing public resources because they went to a religiously-based shelter rather than be assigned a shelter by Central Intake.

You can donate to NEOCH through out website here.

You can donate through your employee payroll deduction program through Community Shares.

Or you can send your donation into NEOCH at 3631 Perkins Ave. #3A-3, Cleveland, Ohio 44114 --Put "membership" in the memo section.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry


Articles in the News Around Homelessness

WEWS-TV 5 had a nice story on family homelessness and the overflow problems in Cleveland. We have had seven months of overflow shelter for families.  What month do we say this is no longer an overflow problem, but a lack of family bed problem.  We closed Continue Life earlier this year, and West Side Catholic reduced the number of transitional beds for family.  This is what happens when you cut back on beds available to families, you have to pay to transport and open up church basements for these emergencies.

The New York Times had a strange story about the feeding program.  I understand presenting a balanced story, but this is just strange.  The proponents of the law do not have any evidence or proof that feeding programs are "counterproductive."  It is one side saying that laws against feeding are morally bankrupt and lead to unnecessarily going to jail for purely innocent behavior while the other side is saying, "but we don't like to see poor people lining up to eat."

A positive story from Vox media about the decline in uninsured individuals in the Lesbian and Gay community.  Health insurance will also reduce homelessness in America when people aren't forced to decide between rent or medicine or food.  

The National Center on Family Homelessness has found that one in 30 children are homeless in America.  Since Ohio was right in the middle for the states around the national average, this would mean that 9,137 children were homeless in Cuyahoga County in 2013 and 88,323 were homeless in Ohio during the same time.   NCFH uses the Department of Education definition of homelessness which includes those sleeping in garages and friend's basements while they search for housing.  

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.


Jim Skerl at St. Ignatius Constructed a Program to Befriend the Forgotten

As we start the winter season when our focus switches to keeping people warm, we remember the founder of the Labre Project locally, Jim Skerl.  The Plain Dealer did a nice job in remembering this amazing teacher from St. Ignatius High School with a series of articles including a nice piece by Terry Pluto

West Side Catholic, which is right across the street from St. Ignatius, expressed their grief over the loss of Skerl:

Words cannot adequately express the community’s sadness over the loss of Jim Skerl , teacher at St. Ignatius.  Mr. Skerl impacted so many in the community through his work with L’Arche and as the founder of the Saint Benedict Joseph Labre Ministry to the Homeless and the St. Joseph of Arimathea Pallbearers Society.  His legacy lives on in the lives of those he touched – including mine.

We have to remember the revolutionary nature of the Labre Project.  In a time of fear of everything and lawsuits, Jim was able to figure out a way for young energetic students to go outside to meet with those resistant to shelter where they live.  He convinced concerned parents of the value of the program first as a way to deliver food to the streets, but the program quickly evolved into a way to build friends with those living outside.  These young people first at Ignatius now at John Carroll and CWRU go out and deliver food, clothing and winter items to those often forgotten by society.  With this extending a helping hand, they listen and hear from the population.  The build a bond that extends after a person gets into housing.  They provide the most powerful weapon against homelessness in listening and treating people with respect.

These students know what is happening on the streets of Cleveland.  They know who is staying outside and they are often the first people homeless people meet when they move out of their housing.  They can often link them to "professional" outreach workers at the agencies.   These students are talking to these guys and treating them with compassion no matter their mistakes or human faults.  The Labre Project helps move people to get off the streets.   It keeps people safe while they are living without housing. Finally, it gives the students a lifelong desire to incorporate community service into their daily life.  They graduate realizing that their volunteer efforts helped the community and they want to do more. 

We will miss this quiet revolutionary from the near West Side of Cleveland.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry