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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

Homeless Congress Asks for a New Women's Shelter Provider

Homeless Congress

Councilwoman Yvonne Conwell

Cuyahoga County Council

2079 East 9th St.

Cleveland, Ohio 44114

Dear Councilwoman Conwell:

The residents of the local shelters met on September 8, 2016 at our regular Homeless Congress meeting and unanimously approved a resolution asking that the County find another social service provider to administer the Community Women’s Shelter at 2227 Payne Ave.  One year ago the Homeless Congress voted to give a September 2016 deadline for some improvement and provided a 13 point list of the areas we felt were critical deficiencies.  As you know from the hearing held in May, there are a large number of complaints from the women.  These include:

  1. Staff disrespect, a lack of empathy that has not improved in 12 months.
  2. Mistreatment by staff and a total disregard of the opinions of residents. “We are treated as inmates and not partners in the struggle to overcome homelessness.”
  3. Lack of structure in the shelter and the rules change frequently without notice.
  4. Grave safety issues that even with security makes the women feel that violence can break out at any time.  The security seem to protect staff before they provide security for the residents.
  5. A lack of competent impartial oversight that the residents can go to in order to get help when the shelter violates the County standards.  The women do not feel that government is overseeing the operations of the Shelter and the Frontline supervisors do not seem to know what is going on day to day at the shelter.
  6. A lack of programming to help the women move out of the shelter or improve their situation.  There is nothing to do in the shelter but sit, get angry and fight.
  7. A fair grievance process was never set up a fair grievance process that involves an impartial person to resolve complaints.
  8. The shelter rarely responds in writing to complaints and the process takes way too long.  They also enforce the punishments before the grievance is resolved in violation of the County standards. 
  9. Lots of trauma and stress living in the shelter, and staff do not do anything to alleviate the horrible conditions. There are regular threats by staff to expel residents for small infractions of the rules.
  10. No independent resident council and we have not been able to meet with the COO or CEO of Frontline for 10 months.

We have a website with all the details and a transcript of the County Health and Human Services hearing at  We ask that the County initiate a process for replacing the shelter provider locally.  The women who currently stay at the shelter along with NEOCH would appreciate the opportunity to have input on the Request for Proposal.  We are going to begin to interview potential replacement providers to hear alternatives to Frontline Services running the shelter. Despite a few changes that have taken place in the shelter, the worst staff member being relocated, and the claims of staff at the May hearing to be in compliance with the local shelter standards, the current residents of the shelter felt that our community needs fresh ideas and new energy on Payne Avenue.

The women argued at the meeting that staff were still disrespectful to the women and could not offer much help in moving into stable housing. They felt that there was not enough impartial oversight of the shelter and hope that a Request for Proposal process can at least build in improvements to the shelter for 2017 and beyond no matter who is running the facility.  There has not been any active negotiations between the agency and the residents in the last year over improving the conditions, or much of an attempt to meet the 13 demands that were included in our list of concerns from 2015.  The vote was unanimous without one person present at the meeting voicing any opposing views to asking the County to seek other social service providers to oversee this facility. 

Since this is the only emergency facility left in our community for women who do not have custody of their children and so is critical in the struggle to end homelessness.  The current facility is overcrowded, filled with women of different backgrounds and different barriers to stability.  Current staff are paralyzed in how to serve the large numbers of fragile women.  The Homeless Congress believes we need a dramatic change to bring in a group of social service providers who can provide activities and services that move women into housing faster. 

We would welcome you or any of the County Councilmembers to any of our upcoming meetings.  We meet on the second Thursday of the month at the Cosgrove Center at 1 p.m. (October 13, November 10, and December 8) to hear directly from the women.  Please call NEOCH to let us know that you will be able to attend (216/432-0540).

As voted upon at the September Homeless Congress


Awards A Part of the Campaign to End Homelessness

We will have music and a family who has struggled with homelessness will be a part of this event on October 19.  We will have a really nice dinner for those who attend, and we will give out awards to three outstanding advocates working to end homelessness locally.  We will give out the Ione Biggs Social Justice Award to Dr. Marcia Zashin and then an award to Paul Sherlock from the Metanoia Project and Sandhya Gupta of the Chandra Law Firm.  We ask that you RSVP to secure your seat.  St. Ignatius Breen Center at 2008 West 30th St. on Lorain Ave. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.


Ohio Lost Golden Week

We would be driving homeless people to the polls today if we still had Golden Week.  This is the best time for homeless people to participate because they can update their address at the same time they vote.  No hassles and for those who move frequently this is the best way to participate in Democracy.

The Federal Appeals Court down in Cincinnati overturned the district court to eliminate Golden Week in Ohio.  The sole reason seems to be that other states around us have fewer opportunities to vote so therefore Ohioans should suffer as well.  This is the worst reason since we cannot move to a state just because they have better rules for voting.  Voting is tied to our residences, so once we get accustomed to voting early and voting and registering at the same time, and retreat is a taking of our rights.   The basis for the suit and the basis for the victory at the district court level was that African American and minority populations use Golden Week.   Ohio legislators and the Courts are making it more difficult if we take away a right that a minority population was using.  It does not matter if Indiana does not allow early voting because Ohio voters do not live in Indiana. 

There is no way to look at this written decision except purely done for political reasons.  The lower court decision was supportive of Golden Week and recognized that this was a way to make it easier to vote for Ohioans. Here are the stories about Golden Week.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry


Homeless Congress for September

 Homeless Congress

September 8, 2016---Cosgrove Center

Organized by NEOCH

 The first topic on the agenda was voting in preparation for the November election.  Golden week is no longer available and the members were encouraged to vote early.  The potential voters were informed about not needing an ID if they vote early and what is acceptable as an address to use for voting.  Cosgrove and the West Side Catholic Center were two of the addresses that can be used for voting purposes. Brian Davis discussed the problems with voting and the lawsuit over those purged, it may be a good idea to register to be sure.  It is no problem to submit multiple registrations.   NEOCH will be assisting with voting and will have a Voting Event on September 27th.  Members were advised that anyone that does not receive a card in the mail with voting instructions may not be registered.

The Campus District Neighbors Plan’s representative, Karla, requested that one male and one female from the shelters volunteer to be on a committee.  The Campus District does all kinds of things in the neighborhoods. They are responsible for some of the banners throughout the city, art shops, art therapy, and trying to get better bus shelters with windows that will block the wind.  Community Development is in every district and their focus is to better the neighborhoods to help make it a better place to live. 

The Campus District Neighbors Plan would like assistance to beautify neighborhoods and make them better with input from the residents.  Two of the Congress members were encouraged to join the committee and were informed that community leaders will be in attendance.

Ruth Gillett revisited Rapid Re-Housing.  She talked about the funding for Rapid Re-Housing and getting the program started by the end of the year.   They discussed barriers to housing.  She also informed members that through the program, they will be able to assist with finances for moving out, security deposit, and several months of rent.  She said she hopes to have the program in place by November.  A member asked if you are supposed to find your own housing or will the County assist in finding houses or apartments.  At this point, that has not been decided. She further informed members that there will be two groups: one age 18 – 24, and the other 24 and over.  There will also be a case manager assigned to each participant.  Participants must have an income or have an income pending.  Ruth stated that the money has to be stretched for singles and said at this point they will pay security deposit and 2 months rent. 

A member wanted to know how they will be informed that the program started or if they are eligible.  She stated that when the information has been put together, they will make it available.  Some members also wanted to know why people with an income are being offered housing first.  It was explained that there has to be an income in place after the voucher runs out.  They are also making sure there is a focus on people that really need the assistance.  There will be relocation opportunities.  Another reason people with an income are able to get housing first is the program does not want to set anyone up for failure and then have an eviction notice on their record which will hurt them down the line. Shared housing was brought back up as an option. Ruth was asked if they will assist to pick or find a roommate. At this time, her response was participants choose their own roommates and encouraged them that it should be someone they know. Members were also informed that criminal background convictions will not restrict anyone from participating.  However, multiple felonies do make it harder to secure housing.

 The landlord would submit a lease (rental agreement).  The property must pass an inspection.  Also, must be fair market rent and any income is counted.  Participants must meet with a case manager at least once a month.  Members asked about furniture.  It was suggested that the shelter staff can assist with referrals.  They can also assist with taking can of any outstanding utility bills.  Ruth Gillette will have more information about this program at the next meeting.  Rapid Re-Housing for singles was last done 5 years ago.  Vouchers were discussed in detail and making sure that no one is abusing the voucher program. 

 One of the artists that worked with the women at the shelter in the past, on an earlier project, wanted to discuss another project she would like to include the women in.  She briefly informed them that she would meet with them to go over the details about the project.

 The raffle was held.

 Next the members went over the Priority Items for the upcoming year. They are:

  1. Shelter Standards Improvements in Regulations
  2. Shelter Law Passed in Cleveland or Cuyahoga County
  3. Shelter System Needs an Ability for Both Men and Women to Recover and Fulfill Bed Rest Orders
  4. Homeless Bill of Rights Passed by the City of Cleveland
  5. A Separate Facility for Mentally Ill Homeless Men and Women
  6. Fair Housing Regulation Passed to Protect Voucher Holders in City or County and
  7. Tiny Homes Campaign.  One member wanted to know who makes the laws and rules for the shelters.  The members were informed that there is no one organization or person in place for shelters. 

Next the recommendations for the changes that need to be made at the shelter were discussed.  The deadline for the changes at the women’s shelter is set for September 2016.  It was noted that County Council President Dan Brady could not attend the meeting, but made a commitment to try and meet the deadlines set by the Congress.  Brian Davis wanted to get some input from the shelter residents that were present at the Homeless Congress meeting about the changes that had taken place over the last year.  The situation at the shelter has not improved.  According to many women who sleep at the shelter it is actually worse.  The members of Congress were asked if the time for the deadline should be extended or it they should ask that Frontline be replaced.  Staff behavior was also discussed and the members felt that it is time to ask that Frontline be replaced.  There was no one present who opposed this advocacy position for the Homeless Congress.

Bus passes were given out.  The next meeting date is October 13, 2016. 

Notes taken by Ramona Turnbull


Questions for the County Plan to Manage Homelessness

Our friend LOH attends many of the public meetings in the community and regularly comments about the State of Homelessness.  She is especially troubled by the large number stuffed into the women's shelter and the lack of a good plan for housing homeless families.  The two big shelters are completely full right now with single men and single women and nearly every night people are sleeping on mats on the floor.  Families with children are already sleeping on floors at two existing family shelters in Cleveland.  This is the current inadequate plan for the overflow system for families.  All of those beds and spaces on the floor are full so families are being sent to the Community Women's shelter.  For the last seven weeks many families are being sent to the Single Women's shelter with all the mentally ill women, drug addicted single women and a few sexually based offenders.  There are a number of newly homeless women who are just trying to find a job or housing, but the Community Women's Shelter has regularly 200 women and does not turn anyone away.  It was unbearable last year now it is an emergency that needs help tonight before there is a horrible incident.  

We typically have a high number of families entering the shelter in the summer when the kids are out of school, but this is troubling that we are still seeing high numbers after school has started.

Loh made some excellent comments at the last County Health and Human Services public comment time: 

  1. Homeless Families ARE Still Staying at A shelter supposedly ONLY For Single Female Adults, even though Schools already started ......
  2. Homeless Congress already decided to move forward with changing [the] service provider to help residents staying at the County Community Women's Shelter due to No changes from the service provider to improve the daily operation to Help the residents.  [Then, the presentation on Behavioural Health without the insurance and Medicaid part of it, into the Fact that BAD Staff Members are the Key Element to Defeat the purpose of "Sheltering" and "Helping" by Loh!]
  3. Upon the upcoming Voter Registration Event at Cosgrove, I am, personally, looking forward to seeing Council[woman] Conwell and her speech there.

County staff were present, but have offered no solution to this crisis.  Two years ago we had a large church in Cleveland Hts. that had offered space to the families. So, we had to pay for transportation and staffing, but we could serve a large number of families.  Now, we have limited floor space and certainly not enough to meet demand.  We have been forced to undermine our principles of not turning away women with children because of a lack of space.  We know that women with children fleeing violence in their household have been told to sleep in a police station.  We find families sleeping in cars and in parks over the weekend nearly every weekend.  We NEED Media attention, community, business or religious leaders to step in and we need help with this serious problem TODAY!!!

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

P.S. Thanks LOH for the Public Square Image