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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.


Ohio Rankings on the Site

  Over the last four weeks I have been compiling data about Ohio and how it ranks among the other states.  I must admit, when I started this project it was tedious and mostly consisted of number crunching and html conversion.  However, the more time I spent with the data, the more meaning it took on.  It began to tell me a story about Ohio, a story I would like to share with you.

   The purpose of my data collection was to gain a deeper understanding of the issues surrounding poverty and homelessness.  Furthermore my intent was to use and share this data to generate solutions for poverty and homelessness.  The data I collected was categorized under five major headings; Population & Demographics, Economics, Housing, Families & Homelessness, Health & Welfare and Crime & Criminal Justice

   Throughout my research of Ohio, I encountered some data that was consistent with my expectations, and other data that completely surprised me.  Overall what seemed most notable about Ohio was that it was very rarely ranked in the top or bottom five states, but it was consistently ranked far below average in almost every area effecting poverty.  To me this data suggests that issues effecting poverty and homelessness are not even on the radar of state and local politicians and that oversight of social service providers is lacking.

   The data I collected confirmed my previously held belief that the factors that contribute to homelessness and poverty are intricate and complex.  While there is no single cause of poverty in Ohio, I was able to identify several prominent contributing factors.  These factors include; lack of higher education, lack of employment, racial and socio-economic discrimination, lack of effective social service structures, lack of public resources and lack of public responsibility.   Each of these contributing factors separately is a complex problem, yet together they create a seemingly unbreakable cycle of homelessness and poverty that seems impossible to improve. Without a thorough overhauling of all existing public infrastructures, it is difficult for me to imagine an end to poverty and homelessness.

  Some of the most surprising data I found that pointed to lack of higher education was that Ohio ranks very high for K-12 education, 16th in the nation.  Yet conversely Ohio ranks 39th in the nation for the overall attainment of Bachelors degrees, 40th in the nation for college debt and 39th in the nation for women with 4 or more years of college education.  This indicates a major disconnect between public education and higher education, suggesting that either not enough of it is provided, people are leaving Ohio to receive a higher education and not returning, or higher education is not accessible or affordable.

  The data suggesting severe unemployment problems in Ohio was surprising as well.  Ohio’s population growth is incredibly low and is ranked 44th in the nation, while Ohio still ranks 32nd in the nation for job growth.  Ohio’s workforce is ranked 47th in the nation.  This data suggests that even though businesses are in need of workers, they are still not creating new jobs.

     Even though Ohio ranks very poorly when compared to other states in poverty and homelessness, higher education, unemployment, personal income growth, crimes involving theft, overall heath and keeping people from losing their housing, these issues are not at the forefront of the political arena or even talked about by the media.  It certainly points to neglect in many different areas.  This clearly is a problem that needs extreme talent, creativity, innovation and cooperation to be solved.  It cannot be solved by any one person.  All of us as Ohioans need to come together as a community and take responsibility for our struggling citizens and hold our political leaders and social service providers accountable to begin to solve problems in our society. 

by Megan Bonem

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry


More Homelessness in the News

Homelessness and Governing

Recently, the city council of Madison, Wisconsin has passed legislation to prohibit discrimination based on housing, which the mayor vetoed.  However, homeless people were added to the list of protected classes by the city council overriding the mayor’s veto.

San Francisco just opened America’s first LGBT homeless shelter.  Though it is not big enough to address the whole community, it is a step in the right direction. The Jezzie Collins Shelter is one of the few new shelters created in the United States after huge federal cut backs over the last three years.  

An innovative plan in Hawaii plans to renovate 70 retired buses into homeless shelters.  However, with the highest per capita homeless population in the US, it is time for Hawaii to evaluate what the real problems are in their state.

Activists are asking that Hawaii work to solve homelessness, not make it harder for individuals.  A new study by the University of Hawaii says that homeless sweeps are more harmful than good. "They found that the people living there suffer property and economic loss, physical and psychological harm, and possible constitutional violations," according to the KHON TV report.

Public Defender, Robert Wesley near Orlandoand Orange County Florida stands up against the criminalization of homelessness, and, to an extent, the city is finally listening.  He said that these arrests were "a revolving door" for homeless people. Wesley specifically wants to revamp the arrest procedures for violating local ordinances — including urinating in public, having an open container, trespassing and sleeping in public — that almost exclusively affect homeless people. Instead of being taken to jail, officers would give violators a "notice to appear" in court, according to a story in the Orlando Sentinal.

In St. Cloud, Minnesota, high schoolers and the local Coalition for Homeless Men built the state’s first tiny house.  Yet, it still has a long way to go until someone can live there.  Many zoning and safety laws can prevent someone from having their tiny home. 

Cuts to ‘Food Stamp’ funding has caused nearly 255,000 people in Wisconsin to survive on 1 meal a day.  A disproportionate amount of these people are elderly or disabled.  One Congressman was surviving on Food Stamps and had their benefits cut down to $16 because they did not submit a utility bill as verification. 

No longer are cities merely criminalizing homelessness, but also criminalizing helping homeless people. San Antonio’s law costs one woman up to $2,000 just for feeding homeless people out of her truck.  She is fighting the ticket and the law.

Individuals Making a Difference

A Washington D.C. teen transitions from homelessness to finishing her first year at Georgetown.  She  discussed the difficult transition and disadvantages she faced compared to their wealthy classmates.  This Washington Post article talked to other young people who got out of homelessness. 

One former homeless veteran in Portland, Maine decided to give back to other homeless veterans.  He founded the Maine Homeless Veterans Alliance to connect homeless vets to the services that are available to them, and for those that do not desire the services, he helps in any way he can. 

A Seattle man is trying to change the stereotype of homelessness, largely through Facebook.  Rex Hohlbein started a non-profit called Homeless in Seattle, where he takes photos of homeless people and writes short stories about them in, while also operating a Facebook page that allows every day citizens to help with the needs of the homeless.

In Ann Arbor, landlords are helping to end homelessness by doing what all landlords should do, accept housing vouchers. In response, the Washtenaw Housing Alliance is honoring these individuals. (nice pic of a homeless couple in a tent with their dog--all things not welcome in shelters).

by Dan the Intern

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry


VICTORY!! Housing Trust Fund Preserved

Good afternoon housing advocates!

Because you responded when asked, because you made the calls, sent the emails and made the necessary personal contacts, the message to save the Trust Fund got delivered to our lawmakers. Because of all you did, this became a priority in Conference Committee, and because of all you did, the Ohio Housing Trust Fund was restored.

A few shout-outs in and around the Statehouse: To Reps. Ryan Smith, Kirk Schuring, and Denise Driehaus, who were backed by House leadership and other Reps, and who pushed Senate leaders who ultimately agreed to drop the proposed change. To Sens. Mike Skindell and Charleta Tavares and the Democrat Caucus for their unwavering support. And to the Kasich administration, including the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, the Ohio Development Services Agency, the Ohio Housing Finance Agency and especially the Office of Budget and Management, and the Office of the Governor for understanding the important role the Trust Fund plays in both protecting vulnerable populations and moving the economy forward.

We encourage you all to thank your State Representatives and Senators for their support as soon as possible.

This demanding exercise taught us a couple of things: 1) together we can impact housing policy; and 2) we still have a lot of work to do. We learned there is a high level of misunderstanding and lack of knowledge at the Statehouse about what the Trust Fund is and does. A continued lack of understanding will keep the Trust Fund and all of our housing programs vulnerable to future attacks like this, so doing a better job of educating our public officials has to be a top priority.

We urge you to get to your members yet this summer, while it’s fresh in their minds, and show them the value of the Trust Fund in your community. 544 organizations across the state signed on to the letter to the Governor. Let’s use the momentum and strength we’ve all created to elevate the importance of our state’s greatest housing resource!

With gratitude,

Bill Faith
Cathy Johnston
Suzanne Gravette Acker

This post is from the staff of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio


Update on the Housing Trust Fund

Good Afternoon Advocates!

The outpouring of support for saving the Trust Fund has been phenomenal! We are getting reports of hundreds of phone calls, letters and emails going out to dozens of members of the General Assembly. Teams of people have been working the issue around the state and nearly around the clock! As a result, nearly 500 organizations have signed the VETO REQUEST LETTER we plan to give the Governor, should that become necessary. Please make sure your organization signs, and forward this to your networks, if you haven’t already done so.

The Trust Fund issue could be decided on in conference committee as early as sometime tomorrow, so please continue making calls to your House and Senate members urging them to them to support the House version of the Housing Trust Fund language – not the Senate version -- while the budget bill is in conference committee.

We are closely monitoring progress at the Statehouse and will get the word to you as soon as we know the Trust Fund’s status. We will be ready to hand-deliver the Veto Request to the Governor’s office if needed.

Here is a terrific recent editorial from the Akron Beacon Journal. Please push this out through your social media using the Twitter hashtags #DontBustTheTrust and/or #SaveOHTF and please RT and Favorite other Trust Fund supporters!

Thanks to all and let’s keep it going.

Cathy Johnston
Advocacy Director
614-280-1984 X25
cathyjohnston (at) cohhio (dot) org


Words of Comfort in the Face of Hate

President Obama referenced the Martin Luther King Jr. eulogy in Birmingham when offering words of comfort following the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. We are all shocked by the level of hate that visited a religious institution and killed 9 amazing people while practicing their religion just because of the color of their skin.  It was amazing to hear the families forgive the alleged shooter.  This massacre has shocked the consciousness of our society and we hope will lead to some positive changes.  I went back to the full eulogy and found comfort in King's words.

And so I stand here to say this afternoon to all assembled here, that in spite of the darkness of this hour (Yeah Well), we must not despair. (Yeah, Well) We must not become bitter (Yeah, That's right), nor must we harbor the desire to retaliate with violence. No, we must not lose faith in our white brothers. (Yeah, Yes) Somehow we must believe that the most misguided among them can learn to respect the dignity and the worth of all human personality.

May I now say a word to you, the members of the bereaved families? It is almost impossible to say anything that can console you at this difficult hour and remove the deep clouds of disappointment which are floating in your mental skies. But I hope you can find a little consolation from the universality of this experience. Death comes to every individual. There is an amazing democracy about death. It is not aristocracy for some of the people, but a democracy for all of the people. Kings die and beggars die; rich men and poor men die; old people die and young people die. Death comes to the innocent and it comes to the guilty. Death is the irreducible common denominator of all men.

Here is the full speech.

We know that we have made huge advancements since King was leading the civil rights movement, but we still have a long way to go.  There is still racism; there is still the need for fair housing protections and civil rights protections for minority populations.  There is still a resentment of minority populations and fear of those who are different. Poverty and homelessness are disproportionately impacting minority populations.  We cannot being to solve these issues until we have a truth and reconciliation for the crimes and injustice of nearly 200 years of racism that is the foundation of the United States.  

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry