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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.

Homeless Voting
Monday
Sep212015

Rep. Fudge Also Asks Justice to Investigate Ohio

Congresswoman Marcia Fudge has asked that the Department of Justice investigate voting practices in Ohio after another series of "corrections" in the law from earlier this year.  The new law will mean that fewer provisional ballots will count, and the agreements that NEOCH struck with the State are no longer valid.  Those who show up to vote in person without the proper ID will be able to vote by provisional ballot, but it is unlikely that those ballots will count in the end.  NEOCH has always worried that homeless people who show up in person on election day to vote will be given a worthless piece of paper to cast a ballot.  As one of the founders of the local ID Collaborative, I know that it can take 60 to 90 days sometimes to get a birth certificate from a number of states.  Birth certificates are the basis of all ID. 

These laws do not secure the ballot in Ohio, but act as a barrier for low income, homeless, minority and seniors from voting.  We all understand how easy it is to vote by mail, but there are many people who do not believe that vote by mail is secure and so they want to vote in person on election day.  These die-hards who love the civic nature of voting in person risk losing the right to vote if they do not have the correct identification.  They may have voted in the same place for the last 40 years, and no longer keep an updated state identification their ballot faces challenge.  Our agreement was that they could use their social security number on the provisional ballot to prove their identification.  This was thrown out by the legislature this year.  Why??   There is no proof of people showing up in person and voting duplicate ballots or foreigners pretending to be citizens and voting in large numbers. The other side always says, "If one ballot cast is corrupt it diminishes the vote for all of us."  Strange that this policy of one violation of the law impacts us all is only enforced when it comes to voting.  It does not apply to one vote purchased by lobbyists that is much easier in the Citizen's United era.  It does not apply to gun violence, corporate corruption that causes injury in the auto industry or predatory lending of our veterans.  Also strange that the people who have to bear the burden of additional scrutiny of the ballots seem to vote for one party which happens to not be in power in Ohio. 

Thank you so much Rep. Fudge for intervening and asking for a Voting Rights investigation of Ohio Election officials. We have placed Rep. Fudge's letter on the page we dedicated to this issue here.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Friday
Sep182015

HUD Puts Teeth into Effort to Stop Criminalizing Homeless People

                       

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has released a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for the Continuum of Care (CoC) Program for $1.89 billion for Fiscal Year 2015. The CoC Program distributes funding to homeless projects in communities throughout the nation. The deadline for applying for the FY 2015 CoC Program Competition is November 20.

"The National Coalition for the Homeless is pleased to see HUD continuing the federal proactive approach against the continued criminalization of people experiencing homelessness," state Megan Hustings, Interim Director, NCH.  "NCH is the leading homeless civil rights organization in the nation and have been advocating for this position for at least two decades and our advocacy has finally paid off.  If communities continue to enforce anti-homeless ordinances, now they risk losing valuable points in their CoC application, which means a potential loss of funding," continued Hustings.

Specifically, the NOFA states that up to 2 points to CoCs that demonstrate recipients have implemented specific strategies that prevent criminalization of homelessness, affirmatively further fair housing as detailed in 24 CFR 578.93(c), and ensure that outreach is conducted to homeless individuals and families who are least likely to request housing or services in the absence of special outreach.

This is especially critical given the recent Department of Justice [DOJ] statement of interest in the Bell v Boise, et.al. case where DOJ argued that for communities that lack housing alternatives of for homeless people, anti-camping ordinances violate the US Constitutions 8th Amendment as "cruel and unusual punishment" and as "misguided public policy."

"It is a new day for protecting the civil rights of homeless people.  Lets hope that this is a wakeup call for communities to now focus on creating affordable housing that will end and prevent homelessness," states John Parvensky, Board Chair, NCH and CEO of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.

Press Release from the National Coalition for the Homeless

The opinions reflect those of NCH and not necessarily NEOCH

Friday
Sep182015

Here is a Prime Example of Why Frontline is Not a Good Partner

This is the e-mail we received yesterday from Frontline Services:

Dear Colleagues-

Since our move to 1736 Superior, the Coordinated Intake program has operated 7 days a week from 8:00a to 8:00p.  Coordinated Intake, which is a collaboration of FrontLine Service and the Cleveland Mediation Center, has been working extremely hard with those we serve to effectively explore options to shelter and provide timely shelter placement.

This email is being sent to you because we are changing the days of on site operations.  Because of a recent funding gap, effective immediately, (NEOCH added underline for emphasis) our new hours of operation will be Monday through Friday, from 8:00a to 8:00p. We will no longer operate on site Saturdays and Sundays.

Saturdays and Sundays will follow our after-hour protocol. Single men and women seeking shelter will go to 2100 Lakeside Men’s Shelter or Norma Herr Women’s Center, respectively. Singles arriving at shelter during the weekend will be sent to Coordinated Intake on Monday for a complete intake and assessment.

Families seeking shelter will need to contact 2-1-1 who will link them with an on-call staff person. The on-call person will triage by phone and attempt to divert. If needed, they will meet at FrontLine Service to complete the intake and proceed to emergency shelter placement.

It is our hope that the need to discontinue on site weekend hours will not greatly impact service delivery. Please feel free to contact me.

-LaTonya-

Director, Emergency Housing Services

FrontLine Service, formerly MHS

No warning, no letting the outreach teams or churches who may be dropping off people over the weekend.  They did not let us know so we could update the Homeless Street Card.  They did not hold a discussion with all the partner agencies to talk about the pros and cons and alternatives.  We just had a County Homeless meeting last week and they could have warned us that this might be coming.  Funding does not change so dramatically that the largest homeless service provider in the community cannot take a few weeks to ease into this decision.  They are really bad partners to the rest of the small groups in the community who are providing referrals or trying to work on the issue of ending homelessness.  This will be fine in five years when Frontline Service takes over every charity in Cuyahoga County and we are all Frontline employees, but at this time the agency does not provide very good services to homeless people.

They do a really bad job overseeing the Women's Shelter and they are not really solid partner when they need multiple organizations working on the same page.  We have a bunch of questions about what we are supposed to do without Coordinated Intake on the weekend and no venue for getting answers.  Are they going to pay First Call for Help to take all these extra calls and spend all this extra time with homeless families?  How will we assure that we circle back to the men and women who became homeless on the weekend to make sure that they complete the Central Intake application?  Who will declare that we need to open an overflow site if many families show up this weekend needing help? Wish there was a partner who cared about the opinions of the rest of the Continuum or the County demanded that the shelters and services play nice with eachother.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Friday
Sep182015

NEOCH Board Endorses Issue 1 for Fair Redistricting

The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless Board of Trustees voted to endorse Issue #1 on the ballot in November 2015. 

NEOCH joins the Coalition on Homeless and Housing in Ohio, the Ohio League of Women Voters and the Ohio Voter Rights Coalition in supporting this state ballot issue. 

Bipartisan

  • Creates a new seven-member bipartisan panel called the “Ohio Redistricting Commission.”
  • The commission must have at least two members from the minority party.
  • Requires the commission to be co-chaired by two members, one chosen by each party.
  • Requires at least two votes from each party in order to approve a district plan, otherwise a temporary plan is put in place and the commission must reconvene to redraw it.

Transparent

  • Requires all commission meetings be open to the public and broadcast by electronic means of transmission using a medium readily accessible by the general public.
  • The commission must hold a minimum of three public hearings.
  • Before voting on a district plan, the commission is required to present the proposal to the public and to seek public input.
  • Requires the commission to submit a statement to the public explaining their process.

Fairness

  • Protects against gerrymandering by prohibiting any plan from primarily favoring one political party.
  • Requires districts to closely follow the statewide preferences of the voters.

Accountable

  • Creates a process for the Ohio Supreme court to order the commission to redraw the map if the plan favors one political party.

Protects Communities

  • Keeps our communities together by requiring a district plan to split as few counties, municipal corporations, and townships as possible.”
We believe in fair elections without gerrymandered districts to consolidate the power of any political party.  We believe that competative elections are healthy for our democracy and compromise leads to lasting solutions.  We urge a "yes" vote on Issue #1 in November of 2015.

Brian Davis
Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.
Wednesday
Sep162015

Homeless Congress Asks For Changes in the Shelter

From: Homeless Congress

                                        September 14, 2015

Councilwoman Yvonne Conwell

Cuyahoga County Council

2079 East 9th St.

Cleveland, Ohio 44114

Dear Councilwoman Conwell:

The residents of the local shelters met on September 10, 2015 at our regular Homeless Congress meeting and unanimously approved a resolution asking that the County include the following 12 items in any future contract with Frontline Services to administer the Community Women’s Shelter at 2227 Payne Ave.   As you heard when you attended the Congress meeting earlier this year, there are serious problems at the Women’s Shelter.  We have filed formal written complaints and held meetings with the CEO of Frontline Services, but have not seen many changes.  We still have out of control staff, little help in moving into housing and a broken grievance process.  The staff were not disciplined for misdirecting clients about public meetings regarding the conditions at the shelter in the last two weeks.  The bedrest problem still exists every night with many disabled and elderly individuals sleeping on the floor.   There are far too many people sleeping in this County funded building and the staff do not foster an environment to move people into healthier and more appropriate housing. 

We still are interested in the County Council hosting a hearing with actual residents of the shelter and not just staff of the shelter to hear about these issues.  We have waited for three weeks since the residents met with the CEO, two months since ADAMHS CEO heard these concerns, four months since they met with you, and twelve years since Frontline took over the shelter to see a change.  All of us are concerned about the conditions at the shelter deteriorating further with extremely volatile residents living in these extremely crowded conditions.   These are taxpayer dollars that are funding this shelter with very little oversight.  The taxpayers who fall on hard times are not served when they show up at the Community Women’s Shelter. We have already seen women so distraught at the shelter that they attempted suicide in the middle of the night.  If Council does not step in here there is going to be a horrible tragedy that explode in the media. 

Here are our approved list of demands that we ask you include in any further contract with Frontline Services:

  1. All Frontline Staff who currently work at the shelter would be laid off over the next three months (one third at a time), and would have to reapply for their jobs or accept a transfer to another position within Frontline that never would involve contact with the Community Women’s Shelter at Norma Herr.  An elected group of current or recent residents of the shelter would interview the potential employees and would have a meaningful input regarding potential staff. 
  2. An independent resident council would be started to comment on staffing, maintenance, facility issues, food, grievances, and the daily operation of the agency.  These notes would be collected by a third party (not an existing subcontractor of Frontline) and presented to senior staff at Frontline.  The staff would respond in writing and those notes would be available to other residents by being displayed.  Frontline could hire an independent third party group for the exclusive purpose of overseeing a resident council.
  3. There are a number of residents who are creating a hostile living environment and are not being sanctioned or punished for all the problems they create. The resident council would be allowed to recommend for transfer or discharge residents who are regularly violating the rules or fighting and not being disciplined by the staff.  Frontline staff/client rights officer would have the final say on the population living in the shelter, but at least would have to respond in writing to the concerns. 
  4. The shelter must re-write their grievance procedure with the input and approval of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless.  Grievances must be done in a more timely manner and must have a written response.  At the end of the process there must be an independent third party (non-Frontline staff) who can make the final decision.  This could be a volunteer attorney who has no relationship with the shelter, staff or the agency.  This cannot be a subcontractor of the agency such as Cleveland Mediation Center, to make final decisions on grievances submitted to the agency. The main topics of the grievances need to be displayed on a weekly basis with some non-identifying information released about the results.  This is to assure that people trust the grievance process and will be willing to complete a grievance. There also must be some consequence for the staff if they are regularly the subject of complaints or are found to be violating the rights of residents.
  5. The shelter has to do a better job of accepting help from the outside to improve the conditions.  They need to have one staff dedicated to accepting church groups who want to donate items or volunteer or serve a dinner.  Residents should be encouraged to assist and volunteer to help at the shelter in order to improve the conditions. 
  6. The Shelter Rules and Regulations will be rewritten with the input of an independent resident committee by January 2016.  The shelter needs to offer more incentives to those who live at the shelter to participate in programming and quickly move on to housing.  They need to divide up the shelter into smaller communities with staff who specialize in assisting special populations and offer specialized care with programs for people in need of help such as addiction, mental health, students, job seekers, or those seeking housing.  This does not mean dividing up the shelter by different populations in different bedrooms, but building the concept of community among like-minded individuals within the shelter.  They need to offer more medical assistance to those who are on bedrest or movement to more appropriate facilities. 
  7. Resident input should be sought as part of employee performance evaluations and those comments should be taken into account when deciding on promotion or salary increases.  If the employee does not get at least 10 resident comments either positive or negative, the senior staff need to gather additional input.
  8. The director of Frontline needs to meet with the residents at least quarterly to hear concerns and ways to improve the shelter.  No staff working at the shelter are allowed to attend this meeting.
  9. Since the shelter has had repeated violations of fair housing rules by not offering bed rest ordered by doctors and not respecting the rights of the disabled or the LGBT HUD rules, the shelter must display the fair housing rules that they are following. 
  10. The Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center will have a female staff person on site everyday who can respond independently to sexual harassment and related issues by the women.
  11. Frontline will accept that there is a need for a separate shelter for severely mentally ill women and will begin to work on finding and funding a separate facility.
  12. If changes are not implemented by September 2016, the Homeless Congress will revisit the idea of changing the service provider who oversees the Community Women’s Shelter.    

Sent on behalf of the Homeless Congress.  Please feel free to contact Brian Davis of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless if you want to reach any member of the Congress.  

NEOCH

Copies to:        Susan Neth, Ruth Gillett, Matt Carroll, and Valeria Harper

All County Council Members