Find Help

Donate to NEOCH

Homeless Voting
Hand Up Gala
About NEOCH

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.

Follow us on Twitter
Sunday
Nov022014

Sunday Early Voting

 The only Sunday Voting took place yesterday and there were hundreds of people voting in Cuyahoga County.  They were only open from 1 to 5 p.m and the line was about an hour long.  We took over 7 homeless people and four did not want to wait the hour for the line to move.  There were lots of church groups, and many politicians who showed up.

Saturday was a miserable day, and the lines were a lot shorter.  The Board was open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m and there was only a short wait.  On Sunday, the street was closed and they were only letting vans in to drop people off.  There was a festive atmosphere with many groups holding rallies across from the Board of Elections.  There were sign holders and lots of "souls going to the polls." There were people dropping off their completed ballots and people in cars with amplifying equipment pitching their candidates as they were competing with car stereos amplifying the Brown's game yesterday. 

The market spoke in Cleveland that voters like voting on Sunday and they want more of it.  With all the people dressed in their Sunday best showing up and casting a ballot with their fellow congregants, this seemed like a popular activity that people appreciated. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

 

Tuesday
Oct282014

Last Week to Early Vote

Good Afternoon Voting Advocates

Election Day is five days from today on Tuesday, November 4. Polls open at 6:30 a.m. and close 7:30 p.m.

You can vote early this weekend on Saturday, November 1st from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and Sunday, November 2nd from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Early voting is also available Monday, November 3rd from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 pm.  NEOCH volunteers will be out driving people to the polling place for Early Voting.  As we say, the easiest and most convenient way for low income people who move frequently to vote (including homeless people) is to vote at the Board of Elections early. 

Contact your local Board of Elections for voting locations.  Here is the contact for the Cuyahoga Board of Elections.

If you have issues when voting, help is available at the Election Protection Hotline at 1.866.OUR-VOTE.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Tuesday
Oct282014

Housing NOW at 25 years

Thanks to the National Coalition for the Homeless for the photoThe National Coalition for the Homeless and the Center for Community Change hosted a 25th Anniversary celebration of the Housing NOW march in Washington DC.  Jerry Jones, Executive Director of the National Coalition for the Homeless moderated the event and gave some reflections about his experiences.  Panalists included Shelia Crowley of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Peter Edelman a professor at Georgetown Law School and previous staff in the Clinton administration, Mary Lassen of the Center for Community Change, and T. Sanders a Speakers' Bureau member for NCH.   Donna Brazile a political commentator set the tone for remembering the day at the beginning of the event and NCH Board President and ED of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, John Parvensky closed the ceremony with his reflections. 

There were between 75,000 to 150,000 people who came from all over the United States to protest the growing homeless population.  Michael Stoops of NCH and Mitch Snyder of CCNV in DC organized the march which featured celebrities such as Coretta Scott King, labor leaders, and religious leaders on hand to protest the growing number of families falling into homelessness and the lack of a federal response.  The panelists on Monday October 27, talked about the development of HOPE VI legislation to rebuild public housing as well as the affordable housing HOME program that were expanded after the March in 1989. There were local attention toward homelessness and federal dollars going into addressing the problem in the nation's capital.  Ms. Sanders put a face on the problem by showing how a family deals with homelessness 25 years later.Peter Edelman talked about one-third of the population are living near poverty and the impact that has on our society.  He went through the laundry list of problems associated with mass incarceration, the lack of funding for education system in America, and the changes in family structure. Edelman wanted to make it clear that we are doing better in addressing poverty since the War on Poverty started during the Johnson administration (22% were living in poverty in 1961 and 11.3% living in poverty today).   But over the last 25 years, we really had not made much progress because we have not had the political will to address the problem. 

It made me reflect on how things had changed over the last twenty-five years.  I was volunteering for the Homeless Grapevine 20 years ago, and things are much different.  I looked at the stats from back then and there were between 3,500 to 5,000 homeless people in Cleveland.  The Coalition was started back in 1987 after advocates started seeing more and more families showing up asking for help.  There was not the infrastructure to serve families and no one in the community wanted to see a bunch of kids who had become homeless.  The school district had around 100 to 200 families that had become homeless and church leaders were worried.  The Mayor's office did not have a response, but were concerned about the growing number of homeless people.  There was discussion of opening the basements of government buildings (including the lobby of the Justice Center) for the winter.  Today, we have 9,000 unique individuals using the shelters and the school district had nearly 4,000 families during the last school year.  We have overflowing shelters nearly every night.  We estimate around 22,000 homeless people last year and there were over 500 families who asked for shelter last year. There are substantially more homeless people in Cleveland and in most cities in the United States since the march in 1989.

Families are trying to find a space during the day for their kids in Cleveland.  Politicians at the state, federal and local level rarely talk about homelessness even when asked at debates.  There is no plan for how to end homelessness for everyone.  We have focused resources on veterans and those who were homeless a long period of time, while single women and family homelessness has grown.  We have certain populations pitted against each other for limited funding.  We have 60,000 people locally in need of some assistance with their rent, and a shredding of the social safety net in the United States.  We don't have the kind of help we had in the past for those facing eviction and homelessness.  Cleveland still has a commitment to providing shelter to everyone who comes to the door, but that now involves mats on the floors of churches even for families.  Most other cities in the United States turn people away when the shelters are full.  Advocates marched on Washington 25 years ago to demand action on a national housing plan and homelessness has only grown across America.  Presidential candidates no longer talk about homelessness and Mayors do not campaign on how they will solve the problem.  They have to deal with all the issues that come because we have a segment of the population living on the streets or in shelter.  No one is talking about solving the problem.  No one is demanding immediate action.  Even with all these vacant homes, we are not looking at a five or ten or twenty year end to homelessness.  It seems that it is time for another march on Washington to revive the push to end homelessness in America. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Monday
Oct272014

Interesting News Stories Around Homelessness

NPR story on Skid Row.  It all started so well describing the disaster area that we call Skid Row.  They talked about this concentration of poverty and the number of years that the area has been neglected. 

"What I describe Skid Row as is the biggest man-made disaster in the United States," says the Rev. Andy Bales, who runs the shelter and has worked on Skid Row for almost 10 years.

Bales says things had been improving on Skid Row, but they've taken a bad turn since the recession. He says hospitals from the region, and even other states, have been dumping homeless patients on Skid Row illegally, and that jails are releasing inmates without enough preparation. Resources have also been reduced for shelters in favor of other approaches.

It then went all downhill when the discussion shifted to permanent supportive housing.  As we have said repeatedly on these pages, PSH projects are fine and needed, but they do not solve homelessness.  If 20% of the population are long term and eligible for the PSH projects, then housing all of those individuals will leave 80% of the population still homeless. No matter how you spin it, the money saved in the community by removing the 20% will not go to address the other 80% of the population.  Finally, we never solve the problem for the 20%, because we cannot build enough housing at one time to end long term homelessness.  So, we help a few people, but even the problem with the long term homeless is not "solved."  It is only reduced in the community. There are plenty of other homeless people who replace those placed in PSH buildings.

This is similar to a hurricane hitting Ft. Lauderdale and destroying 50,000 homes, and the HUD Secretary steps out to say, "Don't worry, we got this. We plan to build 3,000 homes to solve this problem by 2020."  People would laugh him out of the room.  They would say that the population would move or be dead by 2020.  They would demand immediate action to solve the problem of homelessness for the 50,000 who lost their housing.  This is why there is this disconnect at the local level.  HUD officials are prescribing a cure for an illness that has nothing to do with what is going on in the community that we live in. 

Officials Want DC Family Shelter to Close.  We talked about the horrible family shelter in Washington DC.  Human Service workers in DC are trying to close the former DC General Hospital and replace it with a better facility.  The article does not mention any timeline or source of funding to replace all these units.  There is a goal of one-to-one replacement of the beds of DC General, but it is going to cost millions to provide for all these families.

On October 22, Vice media took a look at the inability to speak about homelessness in the United States. Peter Brown Hoffmeister looked at how we talk about homelessness.  He does a really good job talking about all the hardships faced by homeless people.  I spent some time living outside with a few homeless people and was unaware of all the things that were a threat to a person without a place to go home to.  The dangers of getting wet, learning how to sleep with one eye open were big issues.  The Vice media has a really nice in depth article on all the things people facing a homeless person and all the things the general population does not understand.

The National Coalition for the Homeless Board Members look at the need for expanded housing voucher program.  In most cities there are years long wait.  In Cleveland, there were 64,000 people who tried to get a voucher when it was opened and only 10,000 people had their numbers drawn.  We will wait for seven years before the voucher list will re-open.  There are so many who cannot afford housing and need a little help.  They make minimum wage and cannot afford the rents even in a rather inexpensive housing market like Cleveland.

Tokyo has a record low number of homeless people despite being one of the most populous cities in the world.  They are actually solving homelessness, while we are only paper solving homelessness in the States.   We talk about slight reductions in homelessness, but when you look behind the numbers there are so many who are not counted but living in basements or garages.  There are families who never get counted because they are not visible.  There are so many kids who couch surf and don't counted.  We need to look at how Japan is dealing with affordable housing compared to the United States.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Monday
Oct272014

Still Time to Support the Hand Up Gala

The Gala was on October 17, but the auction drawing is not until the end of this week.  You still have time to participate.  Every $50 donated will get you a chance at a drawing of some wonderful prize packages.  There are signed footballs from the Cleveland Browns, tickets to the orchestra, gift certificates for Sherwin Williams paint, and movies, plays, concerts and sporting events.  We have designed some nice packages as part of the 20th Anniversary of Cosgrove Center.  You can donate online or if you drop your check at the office right now

This unique fundraiser does not require you to show up at special event.  It does not require you to get dressed up.  It does not require you to eat the same chicken dinner that everyone serves at fund raisers or listen to a boring speaker championing the virtues of the agency.  This fundraiser allows the population we serve to enjoy a fine dining meal in an environment that provides dignity and respect. It is a wonderful event for families, couples and single individuals to listen to some music, put a cloth napkin on their lap and dig into a Apple Cranberry Glazed Chicken Breast and wild rice.  All of this with City Councilmembers, County Councilmembers and Board members seating and serving these honored guests.  Your donation supports NEOCH and Catholic Charities's Bishop Cosgrove Center.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry