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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
Aug242016

Learn More About Voter Registration in Webinar

Just one day left until our Webinar!  

Learn how your organization can get involved, host your own voter registration event, spread the word, and more. This webinar is hosted by NonProfit VOTE and includes presenters Stevie Valles (@StevieValles) with National Voter Registration Day and Sara Tabatabaie with Rock the Vote (@SaraTabaie).

Thursday, August 25 2:00pm - 3:00pm pm (ET)

Sign up Here: http://bit.ly/Aug25thWebinar

Partner deadline for free materials: Friday, August 26

Spread the word that Friday is the last day to sign up for free posters and stickers. Direct people here to partner with #VoterRegistrationDay: http://www.nationalvoterregistrationday.org/partners/partner-sign-up/

Brian Davis

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Wednesday
Aug242016

Volunteers Needed to Help People Vote

We have done this kind of event in 2014, but this year we will be doing it in three locations instead of one location.  Hope that you can help us for this one day. Here is a flyer that you can print out and pass along to your friends.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Monday
Aug222016

Food Training Available to Homeless Program Staff

This is targeted to outreach staff, shelter programming staff and religious groups who serve homeless people.  We ask that you RSVP so we know how many are going to attend.  Should be a great training provided by the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Tuesday
Aug162016

Albuquerque Works to Assist Panhandlers

"Instead of taking the punitive approach and the regulatory approach, why not try something that uplifts everybody?"

was Mayor Richard Berry’s reasoning behind the implementation of “There’s a Better Way” Program. This program is a partnership between the local city government and St. Martins Hospitality Center-which is one of the largest homeless service providers in the state of New Mexico, to address panhandlers within city limits, and to move from treating panhandling as a crime, instead, as an opportunity for work and access to resources.

Originally, $50,000 was set aside for initial start-up of this program for the first 6 months, this program was implemented in 2015. The $50,000 grant from the city provides money for the van driver (salary & gas), who drives around Albuquerque in a twelve passenger van to pick individuals up who are actively panhandling. The grant also includes for money for sack lunches (up to 6 per operational day) and provides money for the days salaries. The program works as follows: the driver asks if the individual is willing to work that day, and brings him or her along, if the answer is yes. If the answer is no, however, the driver leaves a resource card with that individual and encourages them to stop by St. Martins in order to connect them to other services-from employment to public benefits.

This program runs two times a week, hiring about six people each day the program runs. Individuals in the program participate in public work projects and other city beatification related jobs. Individuals work for $9 an hour for approximately five hours a day (it is important to note that the minimum wage is New Mexico is $8.75). Workers are provided with a bagged lunch, snacks, water and other resources during their lunch break. Their lunch break also serves as a time for individuals to find out what other services St. Martins can offer them and what they qualify for. At the end of the work day, individuals are dropped off at the St. Martins Hospitality Center where they can gain access to more services, shelter and food. The program has been so successful, that as of July 1st, the program now operates four days a week and has doubled its operating budget.

According to Kellie Tillerson, Director of Housing and Employment Services at St. Martins, this has resulted in 932 job placements, helping 302 total individuals (numbers after deduplication). Ms. Tillerson did mention that they try to focus the program on those who have not been helped before (by this program specifically) in order to increase the impact of the program and encourage economic sustainability. This program has increased awareness in the community, and has helped to dispel some of the myths surrounding panhandlers. The emphasis on permanent job placement has been another development within this program, and an increasing number of calls are coming into the agency regarding local businesses and community stakeholders wanting to hire these individuals. This increased awareness and emphasis on economic sustainability beyond a day’s work is what makes the Better Way Day Labor Program possible to implement and offer continued opportunities to these individuals.

We can connect the development of this program to Bell vs. The City of Boise and the legal brief the DOJ filed, in that this offers more than just a criminal sentence to issues that are so often criminalized and dealt with punitive measures, this also moves us a step closer to ending the criminalization of homelessness in communities across the nation, by offering those who are willing to work and do not have the means to secure typical employment, paying jobs. It’s not that these individuals don’t want to work, it’s that often the jobs that exist for these individuals will not help them make ends meet in a significant way: or that they do not have transportation to get to that interview, or access to a computer to update and send in their resume. This program however, is working to change that by offering those resources, and giving these folks again an entry into the labor market… programs like this are moving us closer to where we should be as communities.

Locally:

In Cleveland, it is estimated that we have around 400 panhandlers in our city. It is imperative to hire an outreach worker in order to implement an employment and resource connection program for panhandlers in the community. Although, the program NEOCH seeks to implement requires just one outreach worker; who would focus on connecting panhandlers to necessary resources, as well as measuring and identifying the needs of this unique community. At the current moment, we do not have a very in-depth understanding of panhandlers in Cleveland, and the challenges that they face. St. Martins faced similar issues with measurement process within their own program, because they did not have an accurate count of panhandlers within the program area before the implementation of the “There’s A Better Way Program” (Tillerson).  

We hope to learn from both the successes of this program that the city of Albuquerque has implemented, as well as the failures-in order to address these needs in a Cleveland specific way. We estimate the costs at hiring a part-time outreach worker and implementing a program like this at approximately $40,000 a year. NEOCH is currently working to secure funding for such a position, and hopes that soon Cleveland will be able to work towards sustainable employment solutions for panhandlers in our own community.

Note: the exact numbers referenced above for the Better Way Program came from an email interview with Kellie Tillerson, Director of Housing and Employment Services at St. Martins.

Read more about panhandling and proposed solutions in Cleveland here.

To read more about the “There’s a Better Way Program” here are some additional resources:

http://www.smhc-nm.org/project-end-homelessness/theres-a-better-way/

http://www.governing.com/topics/health-human-services/gov-albuquerque-gives-panhandlers-jobs-not-tickets.html

https://www.cabq.gov/mayor/news/city-launches-effort-to-curb-panhandling

by Katy Carpenter

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Tuesday
Aug162016

Beaumont School Internship at NEOCH

BEAUMONT SCHOOL

Project Showcase

Academic Scholars & Their Mentors

May 2016

by Abby Bova – Class of  2016

     Over the summer I worked for NEOCH (Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless) on the Cleveland Street Chronicle, a newspaper sold by and mainly written by the homeless in Cleveland.  My main job at the Chronicle was to assist the homeless vendors in writing their stories and to chronicle the stories of several people who were staying in the shelters and working with NEOCH for community service changes.  One woman in particular, Ramona, changed my view on life.  She taught me the importance of listening to others in order to make them feel as if they have not been forgotten.  Ramona explained to me how she went from working as an educated social worker to living in the shelter.  Conflicts with her mother caused her to spend time in jail and eventually led to her becoming homeless.  After writing her story, Ramona came to me and told me that by simply venting and then reading her story through my words she felt as though she had far more control over her life and was able to move forward.  This has inspired me to become a journalist.  I hope to record the stories of the lives of young girls around the world who have been mistreated and silenced, so that they know someone is listening.

Editor's Note:  Abby did a summer internship in 2015 at NEOCH and then did a week at NEOCH before she graduated in 2016.  She wrote about her experiences for the class, and Ramona was touched by her thoughts.  Ramona, public outreach staff at NEOCH, wanted to share the write up in the Academic Scholars booklet. Pictured above is Abby (center) accepting her award as volunteer of the year 2015 from Joyce (left) and Ramona.

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