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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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Tuesday
Aug192014

Ohio Changes Treatment of Mentally Ill

Ohio steps up on mental-health treatment legislation. In the past, only patients who were deemed dangerous could qualify for court-ordered outpatient treatment. Under such rigid rules, many individuals – mentally ill but perhaps high functioning – were slipping through the cracks while their desperate friends and families looked on, unable to mandate any professional help. In many best-case scenarios for these families, their mentally ill loved ones passed the threshold into ‘dangerous’ by some act of violence or potential threat. Though in a worsened state than before, they finally qualified for court-ordered help. In other cases, the individuals deteriorated into a point of no return, sans treatment. They were ignored for no other reason than the fact that they were the unfortunate ones who did not register as ‘dangerous’.

But on June 17, 2014, Ohio changed things. Governor John Kasich signed SB 43 into law. SB 43 contains the components for change. It broadens the scope of civil commitment to include people who face a strong likelihood of further deterioration to the level of ‘substantial risk’ of physical harm to self or others if left untreated. The law also addresses people who are unlikely to commit themselves into treatment despite risks of harm to self or others and people who demonstrate difficulty sticking to prescribed treatment. SB 43 gives leniency to civil commitment laws and flexibility to its parameters, allowing families and friends to have a greater say in the wellbeing of their mentally ill loved ones.

 

Additionally, SB 43 clears up ambiguities in language of existing laws and clarifies a few specifics. The new law clarifies that courts may order outpatient treatment as a less restrictive alternative to hospitalization (court-ordered outpatient treatment has long been a legal option in Ohio but is rarely used). The new law also explains the types of services outpatient treatment entails, clarifies affidavit usage for families, and specifies that that a correctional facility or jail is not considered a suitable facility for court-ordered treatment.

by Lora Zuo

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Friday
Aug082014

City Councilmembers Show Up For Teach In

Cleveland City Council members, Mamie Mitchell, Phyllis Cleveland, and Zach Reed attended the Teach In last night to focus on Permanent Supportive Housing and Outreach Services.  We had Peter from the Community West Foundation and Valeria from the Alcohol Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board of Cleveland attend the event.  It was a nice event with our gracious host Gerald, the Property Manager of Greenbridge Apartments. 

We heard from a couple of residents of the buildings who spent years living on the streets of Cleveland.  A few men and a woman talked about being "rescued" from living outside and the outreach workers saving their lives.  One gentleman who now lives on the west side in one of these brand new beautiful Permanent Supportive Housing Projects talked about it being time to come inside.  He was so thankful for meeting Jim Schlecht to help him relocate to his own apartment building.

Paul, one of the volunteers, included a touching note from a guy who lived in a hole in a wall in the folder for each participant who was so thankful for all the work in trying to get him into housing.  We may publish this in an upcoming issue of the Street Chronicle.  Paul talked about the mental illness and fragile people he sees outside. We got to hear from three professionals working on building trusting relationships with homeless people including, Toni Johnson, Steven Campisi and Jim Schlecht.  Thanks to EDEN Inc. and Frontline Service for help in setting this up and presenting at the forum last week.  Thanks to Elaine and Christine for offering the space and talking abou the history of these fantastic buildings. 

With federal sequestration over the last two years, we are losing funds for homelessness and housing in Cleveland.  Federal cut backs are potentially costing us outreach staff and state cutbacks will mean that we will not have a ribbon cutting in 2016 of a new Permanent Supportive Housing project.  This will break an eight year streak of opening brand new buildings.   The purpose of this event was to highlight to the community the great partnership among the many groups.  From the Department of Veterans Affairs and Care Alliance finding people on the streets to Frontline Services and EDEN moving people into apartments, it is a nice system that is working for 570 people in Cleveland.  We need the local community to step up to support these programs to make up for the loss of federal funds.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry. 

Wednesday
Aug062014

Housing, Income, Health Care and Myths

Nice article in the Huffington Post about spending time as a homeless guy.  The guy was a Navy vet and claimed that the month he spent as a homeless guy was the toughest thing he ever did in his life.  This is a short article on some of his experiences.

There was also a good article about the need for diversity in housing to address the affordable housing crisis.  This talked about the many different funding sources necessary to put together affordable housing. This comes out of Seattle from a developer and legislator who is pushing for expanded rights to tenants and a comprehensive plan to build affordable housing or at least to use the resources that they have in a more strategic manner in Seattle.  We have called for a similar plan in Cleveland

Akron has gotten into the Permanent Supportive Housing Market. Congrats. Cleveland has about 560 units with plans for one more next year.   We just completed our Teach In to showcase how beautiful these places are locally.  We will post more on this in the next week.  There was community opposition, but one local developer in Akron really pushed the proposal forward.

Washington Post highlighted the number of states with lower minimum wage laws when compared to the Federal minimum wage.  This is part of the income inequality debate that is increasing at this time. 

This is a sad commentary that I have seen before.  The reality is that time spent homeless does decrease the lifespan of the individual. 

Dr. Kelly Doran, an emergency room physician, sums it up pointedly: "chronically ill, chronically homeless patients who we see so frequently...are likely to be dead within a few years if we do not do something to change their situations."

It is for this reason on none other that we need to overcome community opposition to affordable housing.  We need to save someone's life, and recognize that homelessness is a health care issue.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Wednesday
Aug062014

Another Nice Note to NEOCH

I believe that this woman read the names from our memorial page, but she could have watched the video that Brent did last year as part of the Homeless Memorial Day as well.  You can view it here.  We have our own channel on Youtube just search NEOCH.  We also have the complete list of people's names on our website here from the last decade.

August 1, 2014

Dear Mr. Davis:

Last Christmas I was searching for help for my homeless son (addicted to heroin). I ran across your website and was brought to tears [with] the number of homeless men and women who had passed away on the streets of Cleveland without even a hint of a whisper in our traditional newspapers.  You listed each and every person by name.  I read each name out loud and wept for them all--knowing they could be my son at any time. 

Thank you for your tireless work on behalf of the homeless and by giving them their dignity back by mentioning their names.  Continue to fight on for them. You give the homeless a voice and I thank you form the bottom of my heart for fighting for the rights of the homeless population.  Ware are all God's children. 

God Bless You

Maribeth (last name withheld for privacy reasons).

We thank Maribeth for her kind words. She included a funeral notice from her son who had passed away in June of 2014 at the age of 32.  We will include his name in the next Homeless Memorial Day vigil, and we extend our heartfelt condolences to Maribeth for the loss of her child.  I would add that some of the people we read last year were only children when they died.  I can think of two from last year's list who were only toddlers at their death.  Also, everyone on the list were children of someone, and we work everyday to protect someone's child and to eliminate the need for a December 21 memorial.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Tuesday
Aug052014

NEOCH Opposes Attack on Fair Housing

NEOCH and The Fight 349 Coalition invite you to participate in a campaign to stop Senate Bill 349 which would undermine Ohio's Fair Housing laws by creating an exemption for owners of 3 or fewer dwelling units; permitting landlords to recover attorney fees from tenants in the case of a finding of "no probable cause" and capping damages for fair housing organizations seeking to recover their expenses when prosecuting a discrimination case.  The legislation would make it difficult for fair housing groups to use "testers" to go to the property to assure that landlords are not violating the law.  It does not make any sense to make it impossible to test these violations and give all the power to the landlord in these disputes. 

If passed in Ohio, it would likely cost the state to lose $1 million which comes to the state to investigate Fair Housing cases because the federal government would not consider the State of Ohio an effective partner in battling fair housing violations.  That would likely stop veterans and active military from bringing discrimination claims as is their right under state law as for example when a landlord refuses to rent to a military family that is at risk of being called to active duty.

Learn more about SB 349 at or a more detailed explanation here. The bill specifically:

  • Sets up conflict between state and federal fair housing law, thereby stripping Ohio of the approximately $1 million that HUD annually provides to the OCRC to investigate discrimination cases. The housing law conflict would prohibit the OCRC from accessing Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP) dollars that support complaint processing, enforcement activities, training and other projects.
  • Diminishes the consequences of discrimination by lowering and capping the punitive damages that landlords found guilty of flagrant discrimination would have to pay. 
  • Discourages victims of housing discrimination from filing a complaint to protect their rights by making them liable for the attorney’s fees of the party they accuse of discrimination if there is not enough evidence to prove their case.
  • Reduces legal challenges to discrimination by prohibiting state or local fair housing agencies from collecting actual or punitive damages.
  • Renders the OCRC unable to punish housing discrimination and forces cases into the more expensive and complex courts process.
  • Superficially mirrors some portions of federal law while gutting Ohio’s current protections from housing discrimination.

We have yet to fulfill the goals of the Fair Housing Act.  We still have discrimination based on gender, gender identity, familial status and of course race or national origin.  Why would the state want to weaken our fair housing laws when we see the large number of protected groups becoming homeless because they cannot find housing.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.