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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.


News Stories for this Week

There was an explosive report issued out of the University of Berkeley and proof that cities are making it illegal to be homeless.   The report shows that 58 cities are passing laws that are unequally enforced on homeless people.  They cited anti-camping laws among others as unfairly targeting homeless people for criminal citations. 

Channel 3 has been looking at people who live outside in this extreme cold. They talked to Rick and before that Christine.  They have been talking to people who stay outside.

Channel 19 put aside their tabloid news and did a nice story about the Salvation Army Canteen (not a Cantina).  The Salvation Army feeds hundreds in East Cleveland and Cleveland. 

St. Louis takes steps to make it easier to participate in the voucher program and makes it difficult for landlords to refuse to take a voucher.  We need similar laws that would not allow landlords to discriminate against voucher holders. 

We love the libraries and in Cleveland they are really helpful to homeless people.  This is a story about how libraries are trying to adapt to the number of people who are homeless and using the facility.  This is a Huffington Post article about libraries attempts to help homeless people with jobs and health care. 

How about a public restroom in Cleveland?  New Mexico was looking at introducing a shower bus that goes around the community to help people maintain their hygiene. 

Mother Jones did a long story about Housing First.  I am always dubious about quoting statisitcs (72% drop) when we know how unreliable counting homeless people can be.  They do a good job of outlining all the good items about homelessness.  It does not mention some of the draw backs of the programs or how the programs that are saving money can spend that savings on other homeless people.  It is a good overview of the issues and the program characteristics.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.


Medicaid Verification Letters

The State of Ohio has requested income verification from all those who signed up for Medicaid expansion under Obamacare.  So far 107,000 people have not responded to the letters.  They are given until the end of the February to respond or they will be terminated from the program.  This could mean that the medicine that they are on will not be covered if they show up to fill a prescription.  They will have to re-sign up if they attempt to get medical assistance. 

Low income people including homeless people move frequently and often have a hard time getting mail.  It seems like there should be a better way to maintain eligibility with health insurance than the US mail.  All the work health care groups did last year to get people to sign up may be overturned.  The shelters are not seeing a huge number of unclaimed letters, but I am still checking on this.  We hope the lack of submission of paperwork will not reduce the number of insured in Ohio. This increase in the number who have health insurance has been one of the few bright spots for lower income people according to an analysis by the Plain Dealer today:

The impact was most significant for the bottom 20 percent (incomes of less than $20,000), where the portion of income directed toward state taxes was expected to increase by 0.9 percent, or $116 a year.

We also have to wonder how much this has to do with an overwhelmed workforce at Ohio Jobs and Family Services which has some incredible case load.  Try getting a person to answer the phone or respond to your voice mail.  My experience is that the voice mail boxes are full for most of the workers. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry


Signs of Hypothermia

This is from the National Institute of Health Website:

Warning signs of hypothermia

Sometimes it is hard to tell if a person has hypothermia. Look for clues. Is the house very cold? Is the person not dressed for cold weather? Is the person speaking slower than normal and having trouble keeping his or her balance?

Watch for the signs of hypothermia in yourself, too. You might become confused if your body temperature gets very low. Talk to your family and friends about the warning signs so they can look out for you.

Early signs of hypothermia:

  • cold feet and hands
  • puffy or swollen face
  • pale skin
  • shivering (in some cases the person with hypothermia does not shiver)
  • slower than normal speech or slurring words
  • acting sleepy
  • being angry or confused

Later signs of hypothermia:

  • moving slowly, trouble walking, or being clumsy
  • stiff and jerky arm or leg movements
  • slow heartbeat
  • slow, shallow breathing
  • blacking out or losing consciousness

What are we doing to meet the needs of homeless people in the extreme cold?

  1. Shelters are not supposed to close during the day during extreme weather.  People are allowed to stay inside during the day so they do not have to brave the cold to get to the drop in centers.  (Most days many have to leave from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. )
  2. Cleveland shelters never turn people away who ask for shelter.  This means that we have to run an overflow system with transportation many nights of the year, but it keeps people safe.  It is expensive, and we thank Cuyahoga County taxpayers for this support.
  3. We have a night time drop in center open on extremely cold nights and every weekend winter night for those who do not like to go to shelter.  It is called the Metanoia project and is over at St. Malachi.  This is where the outreach teams can drop people when they find people outside after 7 p.m. at night.  There is a similar facility on the East Side of Cleveland for single women called Seasons of Hope. 
  4. The City of Cleveland and a few of the suburbs have opened warming centers for anyone (including homeless people) who need to stay outside. 
  5. We have teams of outreach staff outside driving around in vans looking to pick up homeless people and take them inside. Many of these workers have backpacks full of boots, long underwear, gloves and winter socks to give out.  These are the donations provided from Community West Foundation Socks Plus Campaign.  
  6. In addition, to the socks and boots, we have used some of the funds to put people up for the last few nights to keep them safe.  We have 8 people who need additional help and will not go to shelter that we have taken inside to keep them warm during this extreme weather.  

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry


Super 8 Motel in Columbus Hates Homeless People

In a story that appeared on Think Progress, a couple was driving on Saturday through Columbus to Dayton and met a homeless couple in a fast food joint.  The couple saw them crying in their milkshakes about not being able to get in the shelter for the night.   George and Joyce Gruss paid for three nights in a motel for the two who did not have ID to check in.  The Super 8 Motel in Columbus kicked the homeless couple out after the Gruss family left to get to Dayton.  This was over the weekend when it was so horrible in Ohio with temperatures falling below 0 degrees and a sizable wind chill.  Here is a little from the Think Progress story:

George got a call that ruined their good deed. It was a security guard at the Super 8. He said the hotel had checked on the room and when the couple couldn’t produce ID, it kicked them out. “We argued with them,” he recalled. “I told him we paid for the room.” Even though he said they were willing to risk any potential damage to the room, the guard insisted that because guests have to be 21 to stay in rooms and the couple had no identification to prove they were over that age, they couldn’t stay.

“He ended the conversation by saying, ‘Oh by the way, your repayment is not refundable,'” George said. He hadn’t cared about the money until that point. “I felt like I was robbed.”

It shows how valuable identification is for homeless people.  Cleveland has a program to fund identification which is rare.  It also shows how stupid Columbus is with their coordinated intake.  If you cannot make it to the shelter by a certain time, you lose your bed.  If the bus is late or not running because of the cold, you sleep outside.  Finally, this story shows how horrible businesses are to homeless people.  They get mistreated and abused by small businesses and corporations who can only see hassles with homeless people and not the humanity of kicking someone into the snow and cold. One hotel in New York City refused to house homeless families with vouchers paid by the state.  They do realize that homelessness is a temporary situation, and the people offered a break will become customers the next year.  Single adults in Cleveland average 15 days of homelesnsess and 50 days for families.  They are not homeless for life, and should be viewed as future customers.  We hope that the Super 8 chain gets a black eye from this lack of humanity.  I will avoid them in my travels over the next few years. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry


New Street Chronicle Came Out Today

The Street Chronicle Volume 22 Number 1 are now out.  It has tons of pictures from the Stand Down, the Homeless Memorial Day and the Hand Up Gala (4 colorful pages).  There are articles by most of the vendors and a page of New Years Resolutions by those who attended the Homeless Stand Down. 

We have an article about the guys who were swept in Akron and are suing the City.  There is an article about living in Public Housing and one about the services offered for veterans locally.  Sarah wrote an article about Labre at John Carroll and we have a few photos from our distribution of boots and socks from the SocksPlus Campaign.  Support your local vendor by purchasing a copy of the paper.  Thanks Brent for all your work in laying out this issue.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.