Find Help

Follow us on Twitter
Donate to NEOCH

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.

Homeless Voting
Tuesday
Aug092016

Call for Donations!

We are currently running extremely low on hygiene kits and are reaching out to ask for donations in order to make new ones. A good hygiene kit includes soap, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, a toothbrush, a razor, hand sanitizer and women's sanitary products. Also very much needed in the summer are water bottles, which we just ran out of, and bugspray. 

All donations are deeply appreciated by NEOCH and the homeless members of our community who receive them. You can bring your donations to our office located at 3631 Perkins Ave. between 9 and 4:30 p.m.  Feel free to call us with any questions about donating at (216) 432-0540 for Saturday hours. 

Our donations drop off pretty significantly in the summer compared to the winter, but there are even more people sleeping outside today then there were in December.  We really could use your help today with water and hygiene kits. We don't take clothing, but could use everything else.  Here is a list of possible items.

Megan the intern

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Tuesday
Aug092016

Many Updates in Our Research/Statistics Section

As the graphs suggest, the total percentage of population living in poverty did decrease in 2014 in both the state of Ohio and in Cuyahoga County. There is also a consistent decrease in the number of estimated homeless people at a state and a county level-from 23,512 individuals to 21,512 in the county (a percent change of -7%). At a state level, a decrease from 148,250 individuals in 2013 to approximately 109,649 individuals in 2014 (a percent change of -26%).

It’s not surprising that the number of homeless individuals has decreased, as we based our calculations off of both the total population and the % of that total population living in poverty, and both numbers have decreased (reflecting overall trends in census data in the Northeast Ohio region). What remains an interesting finding in the state level data in regards to % of those living in poverty and estimated homeless individuals in 2008 and 2009, is that it does not reflect the trends we saw in Cuyahoga County. This could be explained by many factors, most significantly perhaps, the housing crisis that hit Cuyahoga County especially hard: see this link here for more information on foreclosures compared to other counties in the state of Ohio.

Although the data suggests that things are getting better, it’s important to recognize that the percentage of individuals living in poverty remains consistently higher in Cuyahoga County compared to the rest of the state. It is imperative that we identify how we can best break the cycle of poverty before it continues to cause homelessness in our community. Prevention is key, and we must continue to work together with advocates, business owners, nonprofits and community stakeholders to address homelessness in Cuyahoga County. 21,512 is far too many individuals to be without stable and decent shelter in our community. You can see the 2014 data that this analysis is based off of here.

Links to Overall Poverty/Homelessness Data for all Previous Years is Below:

Project Act in CMSD School’s: Measuring Progress

Project Act is a program for homeless children through CMSD to address children who are experiencing homelessness, staying in emergency shelters, staying with friends or family because of the loss of housing or due to economic hardship (Project Act). This program offers direct instructional support as well as access to support programs-this year alone, 2,646 children are experiencing homelessness.

A large part of this initiative is measuring just how many children are experiencing these unstable housing situations or homelessness in the district, and what those children who are experiencing homelessness look like. This year the program found that over 2,646 children in our community are experiencing these conditions. Although, a significant reduction from 4,048 the approximate number of children experiencing the same conditions during the 2014-2015 year (1402 less individuals experiencing homelessness or similar unstable situations). This is a percent change of -34.63%, which is an encouraging statistic, although all is well when you really analyze the data and find the disparities of those who are experiencing childhood homelessness or other strained housing situations.

What we found in this year’s data:

It is concerning that 13.8% of the population experiencing these conditions are five or under. Even more horrifying is the disparity that exists among racial lines within the district. With 83.4% of the population experiencing these conditions being African American-while just 6.5% are white children, which happens to be the second largest group represented in the total 2,646 number. If you look at the numbers by Homeless Codes, you will see that by far the largest group represented are children who are doubled-up with friends or family-representing approximately 67.6% of living situations that these children are experiencing. The second largest represented category are children living in homeless shelters, or 20.6% of the measured total population.

Last year’s data:

As mentioned previously, the total population of children experiencing some form of homelessness during last year was 4,048. Children under the age of five, represented 13.4% of the total population of children experiencing homelessness. African American children still represented the largest population represented, at 81.4% of the measured population, white children still comprised the second largest part of the population at 8.8%. When we analyze the data by homeless codes, we see that 70% of the children experiencing homelessness were doubled up followed by 16% of the population in homeless shelters.

Measuring Progress or lack thereof?

Although, there was an overall reduction in the number of youth and children experiencing homelessness reported in the 2015-2016 year, it is important to note that disparities continued to grow within the youth population experiencing homelessness. Younger children still continue to experience the highest levels of homelessness, and African American youth are still disproportionately impacted by housing instability. To see the numbers for yourself, you can follow this link for this year’s numbers and learn more about the Project Act Program here. Just as it is important to not recognize changes and decreases in the data as actual progress, it is paramount that we keep a critical eye on the above figures, and continue to work towards an overall reduction in homelessness.

by Katy Carpenter

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Tuesday
Aug092016

Project DAWN Policy for Distribution of Naloxone

Cuyahoga County MetroHealth Project DAWN

Organizational Naloxone Distribution Policy

MetroHealth Project DAWN will no longer be able to provide free kits to organizations and their staff members. 

Because of limited funding and resources, MetroHealth Project DAWN must prioritize kit distribution to those at personal risk of opioid overdose whether actively using or abusing opioids or whether in recovery for opioid use disorder. Kits will also be prioritized for those who know someone at personal risk of opioid overdose including family members or friends of individuals who use or abuse opioids or who are in recovery for opioid use disorder. Organizations that serve individuals at risk of opioid overdose should continue to refer and connect their clients or patients with MetroHealth Project DAWN.
Organizations that serve or come into contact with individuals who may experience an overdose should acquire naloxone for their staff members by other means including:

  1. Participating Pharmacies Discount Drug Mart, Walgreens, and MetroHealth Outpatient pharmacies are equipped with naloxone for customers. Simply visit any local Discount Drug Mart, Walgreens, or MetroHealth Outpatient pharmacy and request naloxone. No prescription is required. Naloxone in the pharmacy setting is not free, but is covered by most insurance plans including Medicaid, Medicare, and private insurers. Individuals at personal risk of overdose or who may be likely to witness an overdose may acquire naloxone in the pharmacy setting and receive coverage from their insurance plan. If the customer does not have insurance, he or she must pay the out of pocket cost. Organizations should offer to reimburse employees for the out-pocket expense of their employee’s naloxone.
  2. Maintenance of a Stock of Naloxone under a TDDDL Those organizations, which have a Terminal Distributor for Dangerous Drugs License (TDDDL), may order a stock of naloxone to keep on site in case of an overdose emergency. All necessary staff members must be trained on how to administer naloxone and authorized to use the medicine under a physician protocol.

For specific details please visit the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy:

If your organization does not have a TDDDL but has a Medical Director, you may apply for a TDDDL here:

Exceptions will be considered on a case by case basis.

From the staff over at Project DAWN

Saturday
Aug062016

Project Envision Brightens Women's Shelter

Project Envision was initiated by graduating senior in Painting and Drawing at Cleveland Institute of Art, Anastasia Soboleva, and Sculpture and Expanded Media major MJ Tigert as a way to improve the Community Women's Shelter. 

Through Project Envision the artists build a relationship with the residents of Community Women's Shelter with the goal of representing the women's voices through art. The artists held twelve workshops during which the residents of the shelter could paint, draw, and sculpt, as well as discuss ideas and concepts of how art can improve the interior space of the facility.  Anastasia captured in the painting what the women envisioned as Strength, Resilience, Hope and Community. The painting is in process of being installed at the Community Women's Shelter on Payne Ave.

Project Envision was created through project:FIND, a year-long Engaged Practice course at the Cleveland Institute of Art. Project:Find focuses on engaging - through art or design - with displaced communities in Cleveland. It is generously funded by the Murphy Foundation and was directed by Professor Sai Sinbondit. Organizations with which project:FIND collaborated in relation to Project Envision include Norma Herr Women's Center, the Cleveland/Cuyahoga County Office of Homeless Services, FrontLine Services, Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH) and EDEN, Inc.

Friday
Aug052016

Dying to Get Into Treatment

The Plain Dealer reported today that there were 47 Heroin overdoses in July, 280 this year in Cuyahoga County and 15 in August already.  Anyone who works on the streets with the homeless population can testify to the fact that the heroin epidemic is out of control in Northeast Ohio.  The number of heroin addicts is staggering!  We need to radically change our approach to solve this problem.  One thing I hear from a lot of addicts is that they want help and are ready now.  They are afraid to go one more day using these dangerous drugs, but the addiction and craving for the drugs takes them places they don’t want to go.  They never thought they would be so hopelessly addicted that every moment of every day is filled with wondering where they are going to get the money for their next “fix”. 

Their body craves the drug and gets physically sick when deprived of it for just a few hours.  The addict will steal and do other immoral things when the sickness and desperation for the drug kicks in. Most addicts need to use heroin 3-4 times a day.  Once the sickness sets in, they begin the ritual of finding the means to pay for their next bag, or bags of heroin.  They may start out with a one bag  for around a $10.00 habit, but it quickly grows to several bags per use, some up to 5 bags or more at a time.   Some resort to spending the night removing catalytic converters from cars, or collecting scrap metal to redeem at the scrap yard.  Others brazenly go into stores and steal several times a day.  They have a route and are able to steal enough to keep their habit going.  Once a person gets addicted they cannot function well enough to hold down a job.  The sickness keeps them from being able to work an 8 hour shift and the money that they make from a normal job is not enough to cover the expenses of their habit.  The one thing that all addicts have in common is that none of them ever thought it would end up like this.  With all the knowledge of what happens to a heroin addict, up to and including death, people never think it could happen to them.  They always think they have the control to stop, until the sickness starts and the cycle continues to keep the sickness away.

Addicts have issues in their lives that compel them to try the drug in the first place.  This drug takes away emotional and physical pain, it becomes their best friend, their crutch, it’s easily accessed (many would be surprised to know that heroin dealers sit in McDonald’s waiting for their clients to come in), it takes away the burdens, it makes life tolerable, they don’t have to wait for a doctor’s appointment to get it, no prescription is needed and it works immediately!  Once it wears off, they want more, and more and more…..It only takes using it for 3 days to become addicted, and what seems to be the perfect answer to their lives problems, becomes a monkey on their back.  They may come to the addiction from not being able to get pain prescriptions or they may venture into prescription drugs because the heroin is not working like it did when they started.   The pain they were trying to get away from is replaced by the pain of the addiction. 

Once they find themselves in the throes of addiction, most want and seek help.  The addicts know they can’t continue to live like this.  The chance of death is thought about often by those playing Russian roulette by abusing themselves with this drug.  They can’t go through the sickness on their own.  It takes an inpatient detox unit and usually 3-5 days of medicated detoxification to get the heroin out of their systems and be free from the sickness.  Cleveland has three and sometimes a fourth affordable inpatient detox units that are attainable for an addict that can’t afford their own treatment.  Harbor Light of the Salvation Army has 21 beds, Stella Maris has 16 beds, at times Lutheran Hospital has around 16 beds that can help for specific individuals with multiple addictions and Rosary Hall at St. Vincent Hospital has 27 beds.  That is a total of 80 beds which are occupied by each individual for about five days just to get a person through the sickness of withdrawal.  We could fill these beds with three people waiting if we had more spaces. 

After the withdrawal (detoxification) is over, more treatment is needed to change the behavior of the addict.  There are several programs, and houses, throughout the city where people can stay to continue their treatment and live with others who are going through the process.  This can take months or a year for each individual.  It takes a lot of determination and concentration to continue to stay off of opiates.  There are 12 step programs, there are behavioral modification programs and there are programs where the patient relies on medication (Suboxone and Methadone) to keep off of heroin.  There is a lot of debate which programs work the best, it really is up to each individual person.  Bottom line, it’s a long process where the person has to modify their thinking and behavior to keep off the drug.  The cravings for heroin continue for a long time and unexpected triggers can bring on a sudden desire to use.  Many of them have been addicted for years.

I believe one of the main problems is actually a shortage of affordable inpatient detox beds for people in Cleveland.  When an addict wants to detox, the waiting list is detrimental to getting free from the drug. Today, the waiting list is up to 4-6 weeks long.   People have died of an overdose while waiting to get into treatment.  They have made the decision and are ready now, but may have to wait weeks to get a detox bed.  The problem is there aren’t enough affordable detox beds at any given time. When a bed opens up the individual may not be ready anymore or may not be able to be found.  The drug courts fill a lot of those beds with court ordered treatments purchased by the court.   A lot of the programs after detoxification that help maintain sobriety are easier to find than a detox bed.  Many are outpatient. When an addict is ready for detox, they have to wait. 

The detox facilities are usually always full and the thought of waiting is very disappointing and they feel hopeless.  When a heroin addict is ready, they are ready.  One day is too long to wait, they risk their lives every time they use. Having to wait weeks for treatment when an addict is ready to put down the drug is so dangerous.  Addiction has been classified as a disease, but it is treated as more of a criminal activity or recreational activity by health care professionals.   Would you make a stage 4 cancer patient wait weeks for life saving treatment?   On top of that, many fail at their first attempt to detox.  The pain and physical illness they experience is severe.  The medication they receive to help them through their detox may not take away the symptoms of the withdrawal.  Many walk out of detox and go right back to the thing they know will take it all away.  When they do fail, they feel defeated and a vicious cycle of self-loathing begins.  I have seen many addicts in this position and they are angry at themselves for failing not only themselves, but the people who encouraged them to go through detox.  It may take several attempts before a person can successfully get through the detox.  The addict’s desire to get off the drug is huge, but their relationship with the heroin is also complicated.  There is a mental dependence on the drug that needs to be treated as well, which is why going immediately to an inpatient program for continued treatment is so important.

The shortage of available inpatient detox beds prevents people who are ready to kick heroin from getting the real help they need.  In my opinion, more beds for detoxification are needed.  When a heroin addict is ready to kick the habit, there should be a bed available for him or her to start the withdrawal process as quickly as possible, even if he or she has failed before. 

I hope with the new focus on this issue will lead to more beds.  I hope that the new funding coming to combat the heroin crisis will improve our detox system.  Those in charge of these decisions locally need to take into consideration the fact that the first and most important step in treating an addict is a detox bed as a safe place to withdrawal.  Once this process is over, they need a sober place to go to continue getting the treatment to learn how to live a sober lifestyle.  Unfortunately, right now there are not enough detox beds available and people are literally dying before they can get the treatment they need.  The bottleneck of the system at detox level keeps many people who have addictions from receiving treatment when they are ready.

Denise Toth

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.