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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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Wednesday
Aug202014

Interesting National Stories

It was not even a month ago that social service providers from Cleveland and around the United States were in New Orleans for the National Alliance to End Homelessness conference and now the City undermines its effort to build a trusting relationship with a raid on a large campsite. I guess City officials did not learn anything from the conference.  They did not give sufficient notice (2 days) and they did not have sufficient housing available to the 160 people sleeping outside.  In addition, they came with garbage trucks to throw away all the belongings.  The City officials called it a public health hazard ignoring the health concerns of the individuals with no where else to go.  Many suspect that this has more to do with the upcoming New Orleans Saints football season than it had to do with public safety.   Even the article from the Associated Press gave very little information about housing assistance offered to those sleeping under this bridge.  There are so many reasons why these guys are under a bridge including mental illness, sexually based offenses, debt issues or other reasons that prevent the individuals from signing a lease. 

There were two stories on NPR about the advancements made in San Antonio in how to better serve Mentally Ill individuals.  These three articles talk about the savings to the healthcare and law enforcement community by keeping mentally ill out of jails and emergency rooms.  They claim a $50 million dollar saving over the last five years through their efforts.  Jenny Gold talks about police officers trained to better deal with those with a mental illness.  We saw the negative outcomes in St. Louis this week with police firing on a knife wielding mentally ill man.  San Antonio seems to be taking a different approach.  There was also a story on the data gathered and used to provide better services to the mentally ill in San Antonio.  We do some training in Cleveland, but we are a long way from diverting mentally ill people from jail.  Cleveland police waste a ton of resources on arresting and processing and incarcerating mentally ill individuals.  Look at the long arrest record of Malissa Williams before her killing in November 2012 after that fateful police chase. 

The statistics offered by HUD on homelessness are flawed to the point of being useless. 

The Washington Post looked at levels of homelessness in the United States with this graphic.  Since it is nearly impossible to count homeless people living outside who are constantly moving around. This graphic can be better understand by showing the extent of shelters in the United States. We have advanced to the point that we do a good job counting homeless people living in shelter, and those numbers are solid statistics.  The problem is that if a City does not build or increase shelters or locks the door when they are full then they have no relationship to the number of homeless people.  So, California and New York put a great deal of money into housing and homelessness, while Louisiana and most of the Southern states contribute very little.  There are large numbers of homeless people sleeping outside in Florida because of the weather that do not get counted in this study.  Take this survey and graphic with a grain of salt and realize it is more a picture of the concentration of shelters in the United States.

Harriet McDonald of the Doe Fund wrote a commentary for the Huffington Post striking back against the National Alliance to End Homelessness push for more Permanent Supportive Housing. This is a battle that advocates lost about six years ago, and there are still a few out there who want to turn back the clock.  Cleveland has developed 570 units of housing under the "Housing First" model, and they are beautiful new housing for a fragile population.  Unfortunately, this is the only housing being developed in most communities so it is hard to criticize.  Ms. McDonald makes some very good points that there are losers in this race that are not being served because we have turned 80% of our resources toward long term, disabled homeless people.  We see family populations exploding and single unemployed people who cannot find any help.  We see that young people who stay with family and friends are not eligible for help. 

We have written often questioning the long term funding for these projects, the real savings realized by the community, and the fact that these buildings are being over-sold in the community.   But in the face of federal cuts to other mainstream housing programs and the prioritizing of HUD funds exclusively for PSH/Housing First projects, what choice do we have.  In the end, we tried exclusively emergency shelters that served a limited number of people and that did not work.  We tried transitional programs that screened out more people than they served and quickly evicted residents for falling off the wagon.  That did not work very well.  We did not fund supportive services at Public Housing, which caused huge issues for neighbors.  So, we are left with Permanent Supportive Housing as the latest trend.  It would be much better to have all these types of housing services available to the population, because everyone is different and everyone responds to different intervention techniques.  But we don't have enough money or political will to give multiple approaches a chance to work.  The NAEH types and the Housing First people won.  They had great publicity and pushed one sided research on the community.  They made big boasts that they could shut down shelters if Mayor's jumped on the band wagon with Housing First.  We get some nice buildings in our community that will demand 24 hours of supportive services for the next 30 years, and unless we build millions of units we are still going to need shelters. The next administration may feel that these PSH buildings are fads and will be onto something else, but right now Housing First is the only game in town.

One tough story from the Friday StoryCorps series on NPR about a family living in their car in the Seattle area.  This is an interview between a Mom and her teenage daughter struggling to survive after the collapse of housing market in the United States.  The father had been a part of the corrupt Countrywide group who contributed a great deal to destabilizing the housing market in America.  I wonder how families who were victims of the predatory lending of Countrywide heard this story?  It would have led to a lot of healing in our community if Angelo Mozilo and David Loeb of Countrywide were sentenced to one year of living in an automobile on the streets of any major city in America.  I think that many of these "Masters of the Universe" who's corrupt business practices led to the financial downturn, should have been made to experience the results of their banking procedures.  They should have been sentenced to having to live in abandoned properties or forced to try to sell houses squeezed between two abandoned properties.  They should have had to sleep on the streets or in shelters to talk to some of the victims of their greed. 

The interview was tough to hear about this teenager having to go to school everyday and return to a vehicle at night.  She tried to study and apply for college while consolidating her life into a tiny space.  The sleep deprivation, the inability to have a place for her stuff, and the stress on the family must be overwhelming.  It was a powerful story worth a listen.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Tuesday
Aug192014

Hate Crimes in Ohio

The National Coalition for the Homeless issued a report in June on hate crimes against homeless people in America.  The report is entitled "Vulnerable to Hate" and is available on the front of their website.  We pulled out the specific incidents in Ohio below, but first a few facts from the report:

  • 23% increase in the number of hate crimes in the report in 2013 when compared to 1999.
  • There were 109 attacks in 2013 documented in the report.
  • 18 of the 2013 attacks resulted in the death of the homeless victim.
  • 85% of the perpetrators were under 30 years old.
  • 93% of the perpetrators were male.
  • 65% of the victims were over 40 years old
  • 90% of the victims were male.
  • Ohio has seen 80 attacks since 1999 putting the state in the top 5 in the United States.
  • There were seven attacks documented in Ohio with four detailed below

Dayton, Ohio

Dayton homeless man stabbed to death

Oct. 10 – Daniel Mooty, a 51-year-old homeless man, was found dead behind a vacant house after being stabbed by 27-year-old Curtis R. Gray. Police responded to a call they received about a man screaming when they arrived on the scene, they witnessed the suspect standing over Mooty’s body. The murder weapon, a knife, was found at the scene. Gray was charged with give felony counts and $500,000 bail.

Cincinnati, Ohio

Homeless man assaulted after talking with suspects

Robert Warden, a 48-year-old homeless man living at a homeless camp in Cincinnati was approached by two young men. They sat and talked with him before striking him in the head with a calf prod “He hit me eight more times. I was blocking with my arms and kicking him and stuff.” A fellow homeless man took out his phone, which caused the two students from the University of Cincinnati to flee. The homeless man did not seek treatment at the hospital or file a report with police.

Canton, Ohio

Homeless man assaulted

January 13 – Jason P. Doty, 34, was found lying in the roadway with a visual wound on his head by Canton city police officers. The local hospital caught video surveillance footage of the attack and of the assailants running away. Doty had been punched several times and hit his head on the ground. He was transported to the nearest medical center. Officers believe he may have been assaulted by two males. Investigators have no further leads.

Newark, Ohio

Gang members beat up homeless man

April 6, 16, 26 – A 47-year-old homeless man was beaten multiple times by gang members under the Route 16 overpass. Members of the Ohio Boyz gang planned these attacks. The victim suffered severe injuries including several broken bones. Dustin Nelson, 25, one of the perpetrators faces 8 years in prison for assault and participation in a gang that commits criminal activities.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

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.