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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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Thursday
Oct092014

Guest Post: City Mission Official Gives Other Side of Housing First 

A New Class of Chronically Homeless?

by Rich Trickel, CEO of the City Mission in Cleveland.

On September 16, 2014, Northeast Ohio Media Group published the article “Housing First Opens Newest Apartments in Work to End Homelessness” by reporter Tom Feran. Certainly this is cause for celebration—the new building with its 65 subsidized studio apartments will be a godsend to some chronically homeless individuals. Furthermore, the article goes on to say that as a result of the last 8 years of housing first in Cleveland, chronic homelessness has been reduced by 73%! Since the reality on the ground where I am isn’t even close to that claim, I tried to find out where that stat come from and how it was calculated. How can a city whose shelters are currently overwhelmed with homeless families state that chronic homelessness has decreased by 73%?

The first clue in understanding the dramatic claims made by housing first advocates is to understand the meaning of “chronic homelessness.” HUD has segmented the homeless into categories, assigned definitions, and focused their strategy and therefore, their resources on only one group – chronically homeless. To be chronically homeless you are an unaccompanied homeless person (single, alone, not part of a family, not accompanied by children); with a diagnosable substance abuse disorder, a serious mental illness, or a developmental disability; and have been continuously homeless for a year or more, or have had 4 episodes of homelessness in the last 3 years. To put this in perspective, there are approximately 600,000 homeless individuals in the US on any given night; only 20% will qualify as chronically homeless. So the primary strategy set by the government to eliminate homelessness, the strategy that is being embraced by almost every major metropolitan area, is only focused on 20% of all homeless people. Furthermore, the largest growing segment of the homeless - women & children, do not fit the definition and are therefore not counted and not able to access the resources dedicated to the chronically homeless.

It’s also helpful to understand how a statistic like a 73% reduction in chronic homelessness was even computed—not by a careful day-by-day count of all homeless, but by a single count on a single night in January. This is called the Annual Point In Time Count. Then, based on that single night comparison over time, the claim – a  73% reduction—is made. Can a single count on one cold January night accurately represent anything?

And there’s another problem. Not only is the majority of energy and attention focused on this small segment of the homeless, but most available resources are as well. In Cleveland, the majority of dollars provided to battle homelessness have been spent on permanent supportive housing – housing only available to the designated chronically homeless. Because of this, a number of facilities serving homeless women and children have been forced to close, resulting in the growing numbers of homeless women and children. And it’s not just happening in Cleveland – Washington DC is bracing for a 16% increase in family homelessness this winter, the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance is reporting a 60% increase in homeless families over the last few years and a 108% increase in unaccompanied homeless kids and the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention in Indianapolis reports a 19% increase in family homelessness.

It’s time to take a long hard look. Are we unintentionally creating a new class of chronically homeless individuals – women and children as a result of the current housing first policy? When confronted with the reality most cities are facing right now, why do we continue to insist housing first is the only effective strategy to ending homelessness? How long will we ignore the growing numbers of homeless women and children flooding our cities?

Rich Trickel, CEO of the City Mission, can be reached at 216/287-9187.  We welcome comments to this post by clicking on the "Post a Comment" below this journal entry. Note that Cuyahoga County Officials and the Housing First Initiative were invited to submit a response.

Guest posts reflect the opinions of the authors and not necessarily of NEOCH.

Wednesday
Oct082014

Early Voting Has Begun! Call Us for Rides to the Polls

Tuesday
Oct072014

You Can Volunteer for the Hand Up Gala

Do you want to help in one of the most unique events in our community?  On October 17th 2014, the Hand Up Gala will provide a fantastic meal to homeless and hungry people in our community? We need you to reserve your space to volunteer for the Hand Up Gala.  The event is at the Bishop William M. Cosgrove Center, and we need help serve a gourmet luncheon for 225 individuals experiencing homelessness in Greater Cleveland!

This year has been a year of celebration, as Catholic Charities-Bishop William M. Cosgrove Center commemorates twenty years of "Providing Help and Creating Hope" for some of the most vulnerable of our community. Throughout the year, there has been several functions honoring 20 years of service. The final event will be the Hand Up Gala, which is a gourmet luncheon for those individuals experiencing homelessness in Greater Cleveland.

Your help is needed to make this event a success! We are looking for volunteers to assist at this event as a host/hostess, server, or at the refreshment center. We have two volunteer shifts: 10:00 A.M.-12:30 P.M. and 11:30 A.M.-2:00 P.M. If you are interested in volunteering at this wonderful event please email Sierra Young at sxyoung@clevelandcatholiccharitites.org by October 10,2014. We have invited elected officials (not currently on the ballot) and media personalities to also help with this event.  Thank you in advance for your consideration to help with this event!

By Sarah

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Monday
Oct062014

Street Newspaper Available For Sale

The Cleveland Street Chronicle was published last week.   The vendors began selling the paper especially at the West Side Market and downtown.   We have a nice story about the changes in Ohio law regarding how to improve services to people with a mental illness.  Each of the vendors wrote a story for the paper about their experiences or about their history.

We have a nice story about the history of the small town of Toronto Ohio and some wonderful pictures by Cindy.   The Cosgrove Center is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and Sarah wrote up a story about this essential service in the community.  There is a story about homeless veteran's housing, and one about the publication of the Street Card.  We have a profile of NEOCH Board member, Larry Davis and one about how hard it is to get bed rest in the women's shelter. 

Buzzy published a poem, and many of the vendors published commentaries about poverty and family issues.  There are stats on domestic violence, and really nice profile of one of the Street Voices speaker, Silk, who got into housing and regularly attends the Homeless Congress.  Overall, it is a really interesting paper with a good mix of positive stories with challenges facing the homeless population.  There is always a hefty dose of opinions from the street.  We hope that you will pick it up when you are downtown or at the West Side Market. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Monday
Oct062014

Postcard Published to Dispel the Myths About Homelessness

Norman and his Public Relations committee of NEOCH decided that we needed more attention to homelessness and the work of the Coalition.  They worked with Brent, one of the best graphic artists in the community, to put together the above postcard.   We used David Hagan's portraits of homeless people from the 2005 show that he did.  He took beautiful portraits of homeless people and we had a show with their images.  He gave each participant a framed portrait that they could hang when they got stable in their housing.  Remember, the majority of homeless people are without housing for less than 30 days.  

Anyway, Randall from the NEOCH Board convinced Jakprints to print the postcard, and we are now distributing them around town.  We hope to raise awareness of the work of the Coalition by directing people to our website. We also hope to change the impression that homelessness is not just the guy sleeping outside on the steam grates.  There are elderly, young moms, veterans, children, and all different races of people who have become homeless.  You are welcome to pick some up at the office or we can send them out to you. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.