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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.


Clevelanders Angry About the Police

The Cleveland City Council have promised a listening session around the City to talk about the Justice Department report issued two weeks ago regarding Cleveland Police Department.  If last night was any indication, they need to be prepared for a great deal of anger and a lot of pent up frustration.  I attended the Justice Department listening session led by US Attorney Steven Dettelbach at Mt. Olive Baptist Church in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood. 

Maybe it was not the best idea to have this discussion so close to Imperial Avenue where police neglect of a community became painfully clear.  Or that there were relatives of Tamir Rice  sitting in the audience and frustrated that this report does not address the injustice that happened at Cudell Recreation Center. Or maybe to hold a meeting so close to the time of the weekend March on Washington with many from Cleveland having attended and were empowered by hundreds of thousands marching.   It seemed to me that no one has given residents of Cleveland the chance to talk about the police for a very long time, and this report opened the flood gates.

There were so many people who wanted to ask questions that we never got to a discussion about remedies or solutions.  Dettelbach has promised to come back to talk about the components of the agreement.  There was a question that came up about why the 2002 agreement was not successful.  The last agreement was voluntary, had a limited time horizon (1 year) and did not have an outside monitor was the reason that it did not work according to the current US Attorney.  Some of the highlights or lowlights from the discussion was that the CPD were using force including striking people with their guns as a form of punishment.  There was a great deal of discussion about racial profiling by uniformed officers.  Many in the audience felt that police were guilty of crimes up to and including the murder of a number of citizens.  There was a large amount of criticism of the Fourth Police District especially the Vice Squad at the meeting. 

Dettelbach had a Justice Department employee discuss the agreements in other cities especially Seattle with their police as an example of what could happen here.  The Seattle agreement does not expire until the City can prove that it is free of all of these constitutional violations for two years, but in a larger sense there will have to be a permanent change.  The Justice Department is requiring changes in the law that will last longer than the agreement.  For example, an elected and appointed independent civilian review board must be created in law to oversee police policy and use of deadly force. 

NEOCH and homeless people are concerned since this entire Justice Department involvement started when Cleveland Police killed Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, two homeless people, over the Thanksgiving weekend in 2012.  The Homeless Congress talked about the report and has made some recommendations that we will be discussing more fully in the future.

  1. Appointing liaisons to the homeless/domestic violence community from each of the districts who will receive additional training.
  2. Asking that the officers working private security (esp. at the shelters) not be allowed to wear their badge and uniform from the City of Cleveland.  This creates confusion and mistrust of the officers.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.


Random Thoughts

Dallas spent years in court and had to pay the legal fees of a local church over feeding of homeless people. Dallas had to pay $225,000 settlement to the Big Hart Ministries and are not allowed to restrict access to food. Are you listening Ft. Lauderdale and the other cities in Florida?

I came across a sad documentary about an advertising executive named Brian Davis from London England.  Not a good ending, but a poignant story about the in ability to find help with mental illness and substance abuse. 

HUD discusses the "Limitations" of their point in time counts then they proceed to make conclusions based on this limited data. 

"The good news is that, nationally, we are continuing to see decreases in key areas like homelessness among veterans and chronic homelessness."  This is incorrect.  It should say that we are continuing to see decreases on one random day of the year.  The problem with this data is that it is so flawed, no one should make any broader point except that on one day in January homelessness decreased. 

Remember the Homeless Memorial day and Candlelight Vigil is Sunday at 7 p.m. at Metanoia.  If you want to make sure that we read the names of individuals who may have passed away over the last year give us a call (216/432-0540) and talk to Joyce.   Please join us for this important event.

Who is going to pay for Permanent Supportive housing?  California and some other cities in the United States want to use Health care dollars to pay for housing.   As we have said many times, there were no long term plans for how to fund these programs.  The tenants are disabled and will not be able to contribute much to their housing, and are unlikely that they will move out.  They need 24 hours of case management and that is expensive.  So where will the money come from to support these units?  It is a good idea that health care dollars go to support these units, because without this housing these people would be living on the streets and using the emergency room.  The problem is that government does not always do what make sense especially in a timely manner. 

Thanks to Brian Henke for helping organize the 12th Woodchopper's Ball this weekend at the Kent Stage.  We made over $3,000 for the organization.  Brian is a fantastic guitarist and he has a number of CDs available for sale. 

Atlanta caught an alleged serial killer of homeless people.  The man killed four homeless individuals, two while they were sleeping.  The suspect was arrested for jumping a transit fare, and then identified as a suspect in two murders of homeless people.   After interviews, he was charged with the murder of two other individuals in Atlanta. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry


Donations Are Starting to Coming In

Thanks to my sister for sending a blanket from Kohls.  Thanks to Jennifer for the 19 back packs.  A homeless guy called me and wanted to thank her for the donation and said that he was surprised there was money in the back pack.  I told him that we had not looked in the backpacks so I had no idea what was in the bags.  We gave them out at the Homeless Congress, Metanoia (weekend overnight drop in) and to Tyrone who travels the streets at night for Care Alliance helping those resistant to shelter.   The people who received them were very thankful.

We got blankets from Berkshire School District and a few boxes from of essentials from a family on Friday.  We received a couple of bags full of items from another woman last week.  We appreciate anything that you can donate.  Any winter items are helpful.  Here are the suggested items.  You can drop them off at our office from 9 to 4:30 p.m. any day.  While you are doing your online Christmas shopping you can send us a donation at 3631 Perkins Ave. Suite 3A-3, Cleveland Ohio 44114.  You could bring them to the Metanoia Project on Sunday December 21, 2014 at the Homeless Memorial Day at 7 p.m. when we conduct our Homeless Memorial Day. 

We give the items directly to people newly homeless or those who do not want to go into a shelter.  We have an outreach worker, Denise, who spend 25 hours a week on the streets building a trusting relationship with homeless people.  She and the other outreach workers use the donated items to help with what people needed immediately, but as the opening conversation into their long term needs.  We also coordinate local outreach so many of the outreach workers show up at our office regularly to pick up items to give out on the streets.  The stuff you give goes to the people in need in our city.  In January, Community West Foundation is going to donate to the blanket drive with a Socks+ Campaign focusing on the hardest to collect items such as boots and winter socks.  We will have more details on this in the near future. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.


How Long Do We Keep Overflow for Families?

It is now eight months of family overflow in Cleveland.  Every night we send around 20 families to a church because we do not have enough shelter beds.  How long do we continue to send families to mats on the floor or cots before we resolve to create additional shelter spaces in our community?  Is one year solid of overflow the point when we resolve that we need more beds?   Is it two years? Every night around 20 to 30 kids have to board a bus and are sent to a church to sleep in the evening and then are deposited back downtown in the morning to wander around looking for a safe place to rest. 

The problem is that we keep losing shelter beds especially beds for families.  In August, Continue Life closed down, but before that Family Transitional reduced its size. Triumph House closed, and East Side Catholic shelter closed.  None of these were replaced in the community.   Along with the family shelters,  THI and the Upstairs program for single adult women closed and were not replaced.  These squeezed the existing programs.  We got through the downturn, because we had huge rental assistance dollars available to families to keep them out of shelter, but that has all dried up.  So, now we are stuck with no where to place families.  Continue Life specialized in serving pregnant or new moms with shelter, and now we have no where to turn for these young Moms.  

The other issue is that for the County to suggest more emergency beds they will have to admit that we are not solving homelessness as has been championed recently. County officials will have to figure out how to pay for these beds in a time of reductions from the federal government.  These two obstacles are going to be huge to overcome.  The propaganda value at the local and national level as one of the cities making huge progress in "solving homelessness" is valuable.  Community planners and social service who have dedicated their life to reducing the pain and stress of living without housing and helps people deal with the depressing job of seeing people when they are the lowest point in their life.  We all want to point to victories in our jobs to justify the late night grant reports and the mountains of paper work. 

Someone would have to go before City Council or County Council to tell them that "All is not right in Cleveland and a large number of families are struggling."  That opens up some uncomfortable questions someone is going to have to answer:

  1. Are we using existing tax payer dollars wisely?
  2. Have we evaluated the existing system to assure that we are doing what is best for the community? 
  3. Why are we paying for shelter for some people who seem to not be worthy?
  4. Why don't we have time limits or life time limits on shelter?

Or any of the other inappropriate or misinformed questions that come up when someone has their hand out for money. 

At the end of the day if we want to maintain our commitment to keeping families together, we must open more shelter beds.  If we want to keep Moms from freezing to death in a car this winter, we have to have more shelter beds.  If we want to make sure that when a child asks for a bed, we will have one available for them then we have to build more shelter spaces.  We all know that it is only a band aid that does not end homelessness, but it is impossible to provide assistance after a family has dissolved and each sent in a different direction.  It costs our community much more when the children enter foster care or the Mom gives up her children due to poverty.  Cleveland needs to suck it up and provide more shelter beds to families waiting for an affordable place to live. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.


How Can I Volunteer for the Homeless Stand Down?

Our partners over at HandsOn NEO are looking for help with volunteering over at the Homeless Stand Down.  Here are the Volunteer Needs:

Homeless Stand Down 2015 Donation Sorting:

  • Various days/evenings/weekends Mid -December-January 22nd (Sign up to follow)
  • Veteran's supplies donation sorting - various dates, late December/Early January (location tbd)
  • Great for youth and families
  • Great for groups of 5-10 individuals

Homeless Stand Down Setup:

  • Friday, January 23rd 10am-5pm (multiple volunteer shifts) @ Cleveland Public Auditorium 
  • Help setup donations, decorate, and organize supplies
  • Great for groups of 10+ individuals
  • Drivers with large capacity vehicles are needed for donation transporting to Stand Down site

Homeless Stand Down 2015:

  • Saturday, January 24th, 7am-3pm @ Cleveland Public Auditorium 
  • Positions include- 
  1. Personal Shoppers to help guest find basic need items
  2. Distribution Managers helping organize donations
  3. Volunteer Guardians/Security 
  4. Kids area volunteers
  • Great for groups of 5-20 individuals  
  • Limited opportunities for teen volunteers. 16 and up only. No other youth volunteers are allowed. 

Homeless Stand Down 2015 CareVan Setup:

  • The week of January 25, 5:30pm-8:00pm (location tbd)
  • Help sort and organize donations 
  • Great for groups of 5-10 individuals

Homeless Stand Down 2015 CareVan Days:

  • Saturday, January 31st and Sunday, February 1st 9am-2pm 
  • Drive a van, serve a meal, hand out donations, etc.
  • Great for groups of 4-7 individuals 
  • Drivers with large capacity vehicles  are needed for donation transporting to CareVan sites

Click here to register for HSD volunteer positions. Go to the January calendar on the HandsOn NEO website.

***Volunteer registration is a first come, first served opportunity

***All volunteers MUST be signed up through the HandsOn website. There will be NO walk up volunteers allowed

***There will be Stand Down Pre-Event Overviews for 2015 volunteers. These Pre-Event Overviews are optional. You will receive email confirmations and appropriate instructions prior to the event. Stand Down volunteers DO NOT have to attend a HandsOn NEO volunteer orientation to participate. 

Call for entertainment volunteers! We are looking for entertainment for the 2015 Homeless Stand Down. This includes main stage performers, roving entertainment (caricatures, jugglers, drum circles, etc.) and kids area entertainment (face painting, puppets, etc.) Click here to express interest via a survey monkey questionnaire.

 Other specialized positions: We are looking for spiritual leaders from different faiths to be onsite to support those at the event. We are also looking for Spanish speakers to serve as translators. Finally, we are looking for licensed massage therapists to be onsite for back or hand massages. Interested parties should email HSD (at) handsonneo (dot) org.

Are you part of a group who wants to volunteer? Can 216-432-9390 or email HSD(at) handsonneo(dot)org for group registration.

You must use the HandsOn NEO website to volunteer, and it is an extremely rewarding experience. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.