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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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Monday
Aug042014

From the Streets to Permanent Supportive Housing...

        It is a rare occasion when we are able to converse freely with formerly homeless persons about living on the streets of Cleveland. It is an even rarer occasion when they are able to publicly broadcast their individual stories and teach others of the importance of housing. This is why YOU ARE INVITED to attend the Permanent Supportive Housing and Homeless Outreach Teach In on August 7, 2014 at 6 p.m.  A diverse and energetic panel consisting of both homeless persons and outreach workers will present fresh and unique perspectives on the journey out of homelessness. There will also be a lively discussion, a tour of one of the apartments, and refreshments available. This is your chance to truly understand homelessness and build relationships with those living outside.

         This presentation is for Cleveland City Council and County Council members as well as staff of the Alcohol and Drug and Mental Health Board of Cleveland.  Media and other members of the public are also invited.  RSVP BY CALLING 216/432-0540. This event is co-sponsored by Frontline Service and EDEN Inc.

COME JOIN US!

Thursday August 7th at 6:00 PM to 8:30 p.m.

Greenbridge Commons

East 75th St and Euclid Ave.

We just ask that you RSVP.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Friday
Aug012014

National News Updates

Another story in Talk Poverty about the deplorable DC shelter for families. This link is a good overview of the closure of the previous family shelter and how the city was forced to open a bigger shelter at the abandoned hospital.  We wrote about the child who was taken from the shelter in March and has not been seen since. Sharon Neuman Murphy of Mary's House penned a nice overview of the problem and how politicians are still ignoring homeless families in DC.  We are also seeing a lack of options for families in Cleveland with huge numbers showing up for help and having no where to go.  This story shows the value of shelter regulations in a community.

Frustrated with inaction on the problem of homelessness, a neighborhood NIMBY advocate in DC attacked a homeless person and was arrested.  In the nation's capital in the Dupont Circle neighborhood, one restaurant worker was arrested for violence directed at a homeless person. The attacker had led an effort to stop the construction of an apartment in the neighborhood.  Now he was arrested for spraying a homeless person, screaming at a homeless guy and then throwing his stuff in the streets.  The attacker works at a local bar.  I have to wonder who is more of a problem for the Dupont Circle neighborhood his intoxicated customers later at night or homeless people?

Michelle Obama followed up her speech at the National Alliance to End Homelessness with an op-ed for the McClatchey newspapers. It was a good overview of the problem and it is hard to disagree that we should not honor these veterans by making sure that they do not become homeless.   But these guys volunteered to put their country first by joining the military, and so wouldn't they want the United States to solve homelessness for everyone and not just veterans?  These guys and gals who were willing to sacrifice their life for their country would say that there should not be one homeless kid in the richest country on the planet.  I think that most of these veterans would say, "No, I will give up my spot on the housing waiting list for the Mom who is working two jobs and taking care of her two kids." 

Huffington Post had a video of a homeless guy watching his shelter being destroyed by the police.  This is part of a documentary called "Destiny Bridge" about homeless tent cities and the pastor that cares for a group of people who live in the woods. 

The Cincinnati Coalition is working to expand the Ohio hate crimes law to include homeless people in response to another attack in the Queen city. Cincinnati has always been the one of the least friendly cities in Ohio toward homeless people. This follows an attack on a homeless guy, John Hensley, in the Over the Rhine neighborhood.  Three men were arrested for the attack. Cincinnati Coalition director, Josh Spring, would like to see prosecutors have the option of moving up the charge if they find the individuals went after a fragile and vulnerable population.  NEOCH supports this effort and has unsuccessfully tried to convince legislators of the need for additional protections for homeless people. 

New Mexico intends to try and add homeless people to the Hate Crimes legislation.  This failed in 2013, but one state legislator intends to try again.  The Albuquerque Police were videotaped killing a homeless guy who was in the process of giving himself up that made national news.  Hopefully, with all the bad news coming out of Albuquerque and police aggression will move this legislation forward this time.

The worst news of the day was the killing of Thomas Trent by a 12 year old boy in (of course) violent Florida--the most dangerous state in the union for homeless people. I could only find a couple of references to this story which seemed strange.  This should be a national news story about how we have cast a group of people out of our society and they have become prey for children.  54 year old Thomas Trent was shot to death at 2 a.m. behind a group of stores, and the police used surveillance video to track down the suspect. 

Trent's sister told the Florida Times-Union that her brother was kind and intelligent, and had just been released from the hospital when he was killed. He'd suffered from health problems related to alcoholism, she told the paper.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Thursday
Jul312014

Cognitive Dissidence At Alliance Conference

I did not attend the National Alliance to End Homelessness Conference, but could not help but be overwhelmed with Tweets from the Conference.  I have only attended one NAEH conference and did not find it very helpful because of the cognitive dissidence between the national group and what is happening in the field with real homeless people.  The government response to homelessness is championed as "progressive and based on science" while I find that they are responsive to a problem as it looked 20 years ago and then it takes another five years to pivot to respond to current issues.  Researchers with a business interest in steering cities toward their way of thinking gave us PowerPoint presentations on putting resources into their method of solving homelessness.   Then when I got home, I looked around and saw that the majority of homeless people who need help are not disabled, have not been homeless for a long period of time and just don't have enough money to afford rent.   Then the big social service providers are talking about chasing the dollars and outcomes and have lost sight of the humanity and reason that they were in existence.   The decisions made at these conferences seem to just transfer limited resources from one fragile population to another population declared the flavor of the month (youth or veterans or disabled, etc.).

Here are some examples of what I mean from the flow of tweets this week...

Secretary Castro pledges his commitment to HUD's work to end homelessness at the conference

Has a HUD Secretary ever said to a crowd, "I pledge that I will not be working to end homelessness?" or "Things are so bad in Washington that we will see an increase in homelessness over the next five years?"  Or "We hope that we can keep treading water and we hope that the number of people who die while sleeping on the streets will be kept to a minimum."

. at said investing in makes moral & fiscal sense. He's said this before.

That is a true statement, and no one can disagree that brand new beautiful apartments will not help a community.  What about the increase in family homelessnessss (who do not qualify for PSH) and what about the emergency services that are cut because we are slicing the pie even thinner?  80% of our money locally now goes to PSH, but we do not have 80% more money then we had five years ago. In fact, we have about 20% fewer dollars then we have five years ago. I find it interesting that Rich Trickel at the City Mission was talking about the huge numbers he is seeing while national advocates were proclaiming victories about lower veteran's homelessness and reducing long term homelessness.

66 women and children requested shelter yesterday - unfortunately there was no room. Overwhelmed by :

  Struggling to reconcile pronouncements of ending with the crushing numbers of families. ’taddup

We have these pronouncements (expressed in tweets) about requiring change in the system in order to solve homelessness:

: we must create systems change around now, or we could be back here in 10 years.

The promise of rapid re-housing to end must be linked to increasing family incomes to sustain housing over time.

We often increase homelessness by inviting people into the system when they really needed diversion from the system.

In Cleveland, we have 22 families sleeping in a church basement nearly every night because we do not have enough space in our shelters.  It does not seem that system change, rapid rehousing or diverting people has done much to change this dynamic locally.  We have dramatically changed the system with "coordinated intake" and yet we have the largest number of families in our community that I have ever seen.  We have rapid re-housing for families which does a great job in keeping the amount of time a person spends in shelter down, but it does nothing to reduce the numbers.  There are five people waiting for help for every person we can offer a bed to in our community.   And Cuyahoga County has set up a diversion program which "diverts" between 20 to 30% of the population.  This only puts off the inevitable.  We are not solving their issues, but delaying them asking for a bed. 

. Great partnering with you on Combating Criminalization of Homelessness at ! Resource to share:

I am glad this was mentioned at the conference because this is a huge issue in America where cities are hiding homeless people by making it illegal to be visible.  But just because there is a discussion does not mean we are doing anything about it.  When is the federal government going to get tough on these cities and say, "Look, we give you millions to solve homelessness.  If you don't stop passing laws and repeal all the laws you have passed directed at homeless people, we are going to convert all your homeless money into housing vouchers.  And another thing, stop having police arrest homeless people for disorderly conduct, because a city that does not provide housing is by definition a conduct that is disorderly.  It does not help to ticket or jail a guy sleeping outside, so stop it."

We CAN end youth homelessness by 2020.

Diversion is not a "NO" it's a "how can we help you from becoming homeless". Best for client, best for homeless system.

Ending Family Homelessness does not require more shelters. One of my Fav Slides from

Ending homelessness is not anti shelter if shelter is doing what it's supposed 2 be doing as a process not a destination

Nan Roman : We don't just believe we can end , we know we can end homelessness, & we know how to do it.

Excellent. Now prove it.  Stop the flow of homeless people coming from jails.  Stop pitting one population such as veterans against other populations such as the unemployed for limited dollars. Start counting youth who couch surf among the homeless population.  Start using the Dept. of Education definition of homelessness.  Stop using bogus counts as proof of anything except that we can get volunteers to do anything we ask.  Stop complicating our job at the local level with campaigns that do not in fact "end homelessness."  A goal of 100,000 homes was reached earlier this year and at least in Cleveland we still have the same number showing up at shelter and the similar numbers of abandoned and vacant housing. The reason: 560 new housing units of PSH do not shut down one shelter bed locally.  If you want to close down shelters build 5,600 housing units locally.  Everything else only replaces units that are taken off line because they have reached their natural lifespan.  How about ending homelessness for everyone in a timely manner not one group at a time?  This only makes other non-preferential groups homeless for longer and longer periods of time.   By the way, if we keep championing reductions of 2% or 4% in a year for one group, we lose sight of the real goal.  We will never get to the point of declaring victory by championing these small decreases in one population. 

: is the epitome of a dedicated & effective public servant. Her commitment to ending is absolute

Honoring for her amazing work at @usichomelessness. THANK YOU, BARB!

B. Poppe: the goal is a world in which family homelessness is a rare and brief occurrence and no family is w/out shelter

I like Barb Poppe and Nan and all the gang, but what is the big picture here?  Is the United States better off for homeless people than it was 40 years ago?   When I started 18 years ago there were 6,000 people in Cleveland experiencing homelessness and about 3,500 using the shelters.  Now there are 22,000 people and 9,000 people using the shelters every year.  NEOCH was created because of the rise in family homelessness, but no where near the numbers we are seeing over the last three years.  We have displaced so many people, incomes are stagnant and there are way fewer entry level jobs that can support a family then there were 30 years ago.  We have millions more people receiving a disability check, but they cannot afford the rent.  So, I am not sure it is time to pat anyone on the back for contributing much to homelessness. At this time, I see nothing going on to address family homelessness in America.  I see things getting worse for families with cuts to food stamps, unemployment compensation, and housing programs.  No one should be celebrating.

Bottom line most of our Veterans do not need Transitional Housing programs to succeed. "Housing First" just works better.

Very few families need Transitional Housing to solve their homelessness in SLC.

This is why social service types should not become involved in collecting statistics. These graphs do not show this conclusion.  The transitional programs are not sitting empty in our community.  They may not be serving our highest need population or they may take too long to help, but none of the data shows which program a veteran or family may need.  Here is the way to look at this issue.  Cuyahoga County has 1.35 million people and 230,000 living in poverty.  We have about 350 transitional beds in our community.  No one can say that there are not 350 people of the 230,000 living below the poverty level in our community who "need" two years of case management support to get back on their feet.  These sweeping generalizations that are based on nothing but opinion undermine confidence in these speakers.  It may be too expensive or too long to provide help, but there is a need for housing units in our community and we should have a diversity of beds. The vet sleeping near the Willard Park garage would have a different opinion about his need for a transitional shelter bed then most of the speakers at the NAEH conference.

Nan Roman of "Be honest about limitations. Don't fear data. Use data strategically".

Nan Roman: is a symptom of larger economic forces. Our work is only beginning.

Nan Roman: (Point in Time) PITCount estimates aren't just a count of beds. Beds went up while family homelessness went down

Is this a job creation program for homeless social services for the next 50 years or do we want to end homelessness?  Every advocate I talk to says family homelessness is going up (Cleveland, Atlanta, New York, Washington DC, Minnesota) and yet many at the national level are saying there is a decrease. By the way, if you do not have guaranteed access to shelter how can any count be trusted?  If you say to a family that there is not space in the shelter so go stay with your Mom, in their mind they are still homeless, but by HUD standards they are not.   Counting homeless people is a flawed exercise that is not based on any science.  It is not real data that has any usefulness for community planning or developing an emergency response to homelessness.  We have seen 45 years of increases, how can we be at the beginning?   It diminishes the work of the Housing NOW march and the McKinney Vento legislation and the Runaway youth effort and all the other work that has been done to say we are at the beginning.   But if we are looking at "larger economic forces" then why was there no discussion on an increase in disability payments or giving the nation a pay increase with improvements in minimum wage?  Why no discussion about debt specifically student loan debt that moves people to bankruptcy and homelessness? What about sanctioning cities for making it illegal to be homeless?  Why not forcing cities to provide housing to every one of its citizens?  Why not designing mandatory mentoring programs with city employees who get compensated for keeping people out of homelessness?  How about outlawing any discharge to a shelter?  There are so many big picture items that would actually have an impact on ending homelessness that no one is talking about.  Instead we focus on managing the crisis and counting the number of people we help out of the river after their family has dissolved and they have nearly drowned.  Pushing paper better in our community will not end homelessness.

Fascinating juxtaposition of talks: lamenting in-the-box thinking, and current speaker is celebrating bureaucracy.

Not spending one more dollar on case management and just investing in assertive engagement in Multnomah County? Horrible idea.

Heartfelt gratitude and respect for and working to end homelessness against all odds & sneers.

Every Rescue Mission must have a long term housing strategy

Your county can afford to keep in hospital for 3k a day but can't afford rent for 1k a month? -Mitchell Katz

Can't think of 1 thing in 312 days on the road ending homelessness last year supporting abandoning case mgmt 4 assertive engagement

Phoenix, AZ reached functionally zero chronically homeless. This is attainable in Erie County, NY too.

So many different strategies and so many different theories.  By the way, since the VA crisis of fake data started in Phoenix did anyone question their data on long term homeless?  Just reading the stream of tweets from the National Alliance conference is depressing and makes me want to raise the white flag  to surrender to those who say we have lost the war on poverty.  Most people in America believe that we will always have homeless people and listening to these "national experts" in New Orleans makes it seem more likely.  I got into this with the desire and feeling that America could end homelessness quickly if we just had the political will.  If you listen to these "national experts" you may be inspired that you can help a percentage of the population, but not in ending homelessness in America. If there are a million homeless people in America why set a goal for building 100,000 homes?  It makes no sense.

We are so far off course in how we address real people's problems.  We are so misguided in how we approach addiction, mental health, forgiveness, and housing from the national level.  Most of what gets said is to justify poor decisions and a lack of resources.   We seem to be developing an entire science for justifying homelessness in America.  There is no inspiration or immediacy from the group. The further we get away from the generation who won a world war, placed a man on the moon and ended an intractable war in Vietnam, the less confidence we seem to have that we can accomplish big goals. We now set goals for managing a problem instead of setting goals for quickly ending a problem.  We know how to end homelessness and it is not through data, diversion, counts or thinking small.   We need more affordable housing, more income for the population, enforcement of civil rights, and universal access to health care including behavioral health. If we focused on these four areas there would not be homelessness.  Civil rights include the right to a quality education for every student and the right to live inside in a safe environment.

 "Ending vet. homelessness isn't just something we should strive to achieve, it’s something we can do."

"The fact that right now our country has more than 58,000 homeless veterans...is a stain on the soul of this nation." -

: If we end homelessness for our veterans, we'll show we can finish the job for everyone experiencing homelessness

"As a nation, we've reduced veteran homelessness by 24% over three years & under this Administration." -

The First Lady, Michelle Obama, graciously attended the conference and spoke to the group. She said that we had reduced veteran's homelessness by 24%.  After the scandal that cost the VA Secretary his job, can we trust any of the figures that they are giving us?  But even if we do accept the stats, we only have until 2015 to house the other 75% to meet the President's goal--the glass is three fourths empty.  From the twitter feed, it seems that she focused her thoughts on ending veteran's homelessness in America.  I do not understand this concept.  We did not set a goal of ending polio among seniors.  We focused on eradicating polio for all.  We do not try to immunize all African American kids--we went after all kids.  We did not set up a highway system in Republican states or try to provide equal access to voting or government for one minority group.  The goal was not to eliminate child labor in the North or set up a social security safety net for disable seniors.  We do not solve problems in America piecemeal.  When did this work where we take on a huge issue in our society and address it with one population at a time.  If we do in fact end veteran's homelessness in 2015 and we have been working on the problem for 45 years, can we set a goal of 2275 for an end to family homelessness next?  

Maybe it was just getting a flood of 140 characters of information instead of hearing complete speeches, but it was a depressing week with NAEH14.  We are far away from ending homelessness in America.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Wednesday
Jul302014

Welcome to Ohio Elections, Justice Department--What Took You So Long?

Today, the Justice Department said that they were going to challenge recent changes to the election procedures and election law in Ohio.  This is welcome news and long overdue.  There is no reason for the loss of "Golden Week" except to keep poor people from voting.  Golden week allowed homeless people to vote and change their registration at the same time.  There were 30 days before the election to verify the information and little chance of fraud. The Justice Department is also filing a brief opposed to the Wisconsin voter ID law.

The reduction in the number of hours available to not include evening and weekend hours can only be seen as racist or class-ist or both.  One federal court has already forced the state to open on the weekend before the election because that is when people want to vote.   Hundreds of thousands of citizens vote in the evening and weekend, so why not make it easier for them?  Why not allow big counties to have extended hours because this is what taxpayers desire.  Cuyahoga County has a harder time getting the half million potential voters into the limited space of the Board of Elections when compared to Lake, Erie or Portage Counties.  Some of the other myths about this voting issue in Ohio are:

1. Democrats voted against the original 2005 legislation which expanded early voting.  FALSE! Democrats voted against the voting legislation in 2005 for a variety of reasons that had nothing to do with early voting.  There were a number of poison pills in the legislation including the ID provision that all were litigated.  There were some good things like expanded early voting, but overall it was a harmful bill that restricted access to the ballot box.  We could have used the Justice Department to step in and shut down the law in 2005. 

2. Most surrounding states have less time to vote--so what!  Ohio tax payers have been voting in the evening and on the weekend for nearly a decade in large numbers.  Government should give the people what they want.  We should serve the needs of the people and not make the people serve the needs of government.  This should be a bipartician position that government should work for the people and should be available when people want to vote. 

3. If they do not like the hours then just vote by mail.  There are so many older individuals who do not believe that voting should be done by mail.  They do not trust it and they do not believe that this is true voting.   They don't like figuring out the postage, and they want some professional to help them complete the form so that their ballot will count.  Again, give the people what they want--plenty of early in person voting!

4. Why is voting so polarizing in America?   The comments on the bottom of these articles in the newspapers are so hateful toward lower income people who seem to have pulled off a fraud in voting in a sympathetic President twice.  It just seems like there is an element of racism in restricting access to the ballot box, and we welcome the Justice Department into the state to fight this racism. 

By the way, we have placed the voting button on many pages on our webpage that you can click on the button to go directly to our voting section.  Or you can do a search on voting on any of our pages.  We have update everything in our voting section for the upcoming election including voting hours. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Wednesday
Jul302014

Bishop Cosgrove Center is 20 Years Old

I really like the Cosgrove Center, and believe that it is one of the hidden gems of Greater Cleveland.  The Cosgrove Center was a toddler when I started working at NEOCH, and they have always hired people with a deep personal mission to end poverty.  They take a great deal of care for everyone who walks in the door no matter their past crimes, mistakes, misjudgments or sins. They always have a place for you at the table.  Cosgrove staff take care of families, elderly, veterans and the unemployed.  They have volunteers almost every day helping with the food, serving or cleaning up.  They have professionals like Ms. Valentine and Ms. Evans who can provide good advice for where to get help in our community. 

After serving over 2 million hot meals and hundreds of thousands of pantry bags and providing thousands of identification vouchers, they are celebrating 20 years.  They are having a mass on August 22 that we have previously advertised here.  We are co-sponsoring the 5th Hand Up Gala on October 17 this year with the Cosgrove Center, and you can find more information on that here or by clicking on the Hand Up Gala 5 logo on most of our web pages.  Finally, if you want to help celebrate the Cosgrove Center's 20th Anniversary, you can take out an advertisement in the Hand Up Gala Program Book

We are putting together a Book for this year's Gala that will contain some history, a feature on one of the guests and will contain the menu for the event this year.  Everyone who volunteers or attends will get a copy of the book.  We will also have the book on our website.  It will have Congratulatory advertisements throughout the book from partner agencies, local businesses, and religious groups who want to thank the Cosgrove for all they do in the community.  Check out the page on our website about the advertisement book for more details. Give us a call (216-432-0540) or send us an e-mail [neoch (at) neoch (dot)org. ] if you want to place an ad in the program book.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.