Find Help

Follow us on Twitter
Donate to 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.


"Fear The Walking Dead" Needs a Homeless Guy

 AMC's Walking Dead television series is set in Georgia and now Virginia.  The series is the aftermath of the downfall of organized society and after the fall of the government.  One of the key interesting figures of the series is one of the two stars, Norman Reedus.  He is a self described Georgian redneck named Daryl Dixon from a rural section of the state, petty thief and racist.  He is the guy who is an expert with the cross bow and seems to have the DNA necessary to survive the Zombie Apocalypse.  He was a wandering, hate filled couch surfer without a real job who could fix things and was a good hunter, but otherwise had no real skills for modern society.  After the world fell into chaos, he seemed perfectly suited for a place where you migrate for food and survival of the fittest is the law of the land. 

The series has a new spinoff that takes place in the City of Los Angeles.  The new series is pre-apocalypse and for anyone who has seen the Walking Dead, they cycle through a lot of characters.  Many many people die on the show including individuals who have leading roles.  So, at this point it is not clear who will be the main characters who survive.  I hope that they find a character like Daryl for Los Angeles.  I am nominating a character from Skid Row to provide some education to the general population of the amazing things that homeless people have to overcome in this society to survive.  Most people think of the "bums" on Skid Row as lazy non-conformists who don't want to get a job.  From hanging out with homeless people in Cleveland, I can say that they go through incredible hardships to survive and believe that they would do well in the Zombie apocalypse. 

Homeless people have to walk great distances for food.  They have to figure out who can be helpful and who is going to harm them or steal from them.  Homeless people stay largely to themselves and are able to find privacy in the public world that they live in.  They are really good at getting important information from the streets and who to lean on for what they need.  All these skills would be great at the end of orderly society.  Daryl brings a lot of character to the Walking Dead and homeless people from Skid Row could bring the new show Fear the Walking Dead some interest.  We also feel that it would dispel some of the myths about homelessness.  There are enough homeless people in Los Angeles to survive the Zombie apocalypse. There are just about the same size as the City of Toledo living in the shelters or on the streets of LA every night. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry



New Paper is Out for Sale on the Streets

New Street Chronicle is out and available at the West Side Market and in Downtown Cleveland.  It has a number of stories about the the Women's Shelter in Cleveland.  There are some really nice stories from our intern, Abby, about the North Star Center and the new West Side Catholic Jobs program.  There was a really powerful commentary from Dan about his experience as an intern in talking to the women staying at the Women's shelter.   We have a survey on the front page about "What led to Shelter?" for a number of people interviewed at two different shelters.  

Most of our vendors put something in the paper about their own life including one interesting piece asking why the Rock Hall does not embrace the vendors?   We have published a poem from a women daydreaming outside the Women's Shelter and a couple of first person accounts of women living inside the shelter.  There is a photo display of the destruction of Camelot and the new police station located on that site.  It is a really nice issue for content. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.


County Council Responds...Sort of

We got a letter back from Council person Yvonne Conwell.  (Actually, is it a letter if it is only two sentences?) Here is the link to our letter.  We wrote a long letter asking how she could host a meeting about the Women's Shelter and not have any residents from the shelter attend? 

  1. Did not get an answer.
  2. Did not get a follow up meeting scheduled.
  3. Did not get an apology for excluding residents of the shelter to a public meeting. 

I think I would have rather had nothing.  It came too late in the day to share with the Homeless Congress.  It might be just as well because they would not have been happy.  There was plenty of space at the bottom of the letter for more content.  Strange?

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.


Fair Housing in the Shelters?

County Office of Homeless Advisory is going to Decide this Week if Fair Housing Rules should be Displayed at the Shelters in Cleveland

It only came to our attention that residents of the shelter had rights under the historic civil rights era Fair Housing Law in 2012 with the HUD release of the HUD LGBT rule.  This marked the first time that HUD was clear that shelters had to respect the rights of transgender homeless people who were in need of a place to live.  We have been assured by County staff that the shelters are fully in compliance with the rule, but I am not sure.  NEOCH has asked to have the rules that the shelter are following with regard to LGBT individuals and displayed so that both homeless individuals and staff can follow?  If a homeless individual has LGBT rights under the Fair Housing rules, do they have other fair housing rights?

My questions are:

  1. Will a veteran or domestic violence victim with a doctor ordered comfort animal for their PTSD be accommodated in our shelters? 
  2. Will a lesbian couple with a child be served in our family shelters despite the religious objections of a couple of our social service providers? 
  3. Will a gay couple be able to live together in our shelters with private rooms?
  4. Is there a gender disparity within our shelters since there are more services available at the Big Men's Shelter when compared to Community Women's Shelter for the disabled individuals?
  5. Are we violating the Violence Against Women Act protections if there are repeated complaints of male sexual harassment at the women’s shelter that are not investigated and acted upon? 
  6. Are we providing a reasonable accommodation to those with a documented physical disability if the only bed available is on the top of a bunk and so they have to sleep on the floor?  These would be clear if we all agreed to the rules and they were displayed. 

There are so many circumstances that are encountered by our local shelters and we don't seem to have a protocol for how we deal with these issues.  We have a Coordinated Intake/Central Intake point that makes the referral to shelter, but we do not seem to have a County wide policy.  We have heard that it is too complicated to display because there are many interpretations.  It would make it easier for all of us if the County just oversaw a consistent fair housing rule that we would all follow.

Without the rules outlined it is up to each homeless person to have to go to court or go to the Ohio Civil Rights Commission or the Department of Housing and Urban Development in order to assert their rights.  Can or will the City’s Office of Fair Housing accept a claim on behalf of a homeless person?  This seems like a chaotic approach to establishing policy locally.  We need rules for everyone to follow.

We have heard from some that only the LGBT fair housing rule is in place for shelters all the other fair housing rules are not applicable.  Could we get some clarity on this with HUD then post those rules?  Even if this is the case, I am sure that LGBT individuals who become homeless would appreciate knowing that they have rights? 

CMHA has done a really nice job in implementing all the fair housing rules including the LGBT rules over the last three years, why can’t the shelters get together to come up with rules that we can all live with?  As it is right now, each shelter has to decide at what point they are willing to go to avoid lawsuit.  It would be nice to get the County to weigh in with some interpretations based on the real inventory of shelter beds locally. 

The Fair Housing Law has opened up housing to minority populations and families like no other law.  We believe that the fair housing laws can have a similar impact on the shelters.  It could be used to assure that homeless families do not have to split up or disabled individuals are able to recieve doctor ordered bedrest.  We believe that this will help people move more quickly to more appropriate locations.  It is not going to look good in the broader community if publicly funded shelters are determined to be violating the rights of families or disabled individuals.  We are urging the County to avoid the headache and put the rules in place for all to follow.

Ignorance of the law is no defense in court, and if LGBT Homeless have fair housing rights why don't disabled and women have similar rights?   We should not force each individual to assert their rights in the shelter and have each shelter have to defend against these “unclear” rules.

Brian Davis



Senator Brown Asks for DOJ Help on Voting

Ohio citizens have struggled to vote since 2005 when the ID requirements were added.  We fundamentally changed the role of the Secretary of State in Ohio from a position of figuring out ways to encourage voting to a place of restricting access.  We got "challengers" stationed at the precincts by the political parties to step forward and question the validity of voters.  We confused the role of the workers at the polling places from helpers to enforcers.  They were trained to be suspicious of all those who come in the door and ask them to prove who they were.  Workers got into the level of detail to try to figure out why an address on an identification does not match the address in the polling book. 

We did get the ability to ask for an absentee ballot without a reason.  We also got extended time to vote by absentee ballot and the wonderful Golden Week.  These were two improvements in the voting rights of Ohioans.  While we were safeguarding in person voting, we were actually making it easier for cheaters to tampering with the voting process in Ohio.  It is very difficult to vote multiple times in person.  There is travel and memorizing information from all these different people throughout the city.  It is unlikely that those who want to cast bogus ballots would pretend to be voters by traveling around the city.  It is much more likely that a criminal would send in bogus absentee ballots which Ohio ironically made a lot easier since 2005. 

We have also have made the federal and state judges the de-facto overseer of elections in Ohio.   We have had so many challenges to the voting process in Ohio it is staggering.  The legislature never goes back to work with both sides to fix the problems.  They just keeping digging deeper holes.  The State and Secretary of State has been challenged by students, older folks, homeless people, naturalized citizens, churches, minority groups, and good government groups.  All this from changing the role of the Secretary of State's role to be gatekeeper instead of facilitator.  They no longer work to encourage voting and get as many people as possible to vote to a new role as keeping people from voting and helping "the right" people to cast a ballot. 

NEOCH has sued the State regularly since 2006 to preserve the right of homeless people to vote.  We have largely been successful and have had regular consent decrees with the State of Ohio.  We have lost a number of times, but we have had to spend hundreds of hours in court to assure that low income people do not face the humiliation of showing up to vote, being challenged, and having their vote not count. 

Senator Sherrod Brown has asked the US Justice Department to intervene to protect Ohio voters.  He has asked the DOJ to investigate as authorized by the Voting Rights Law.

"Ohio has a long history of election problems...While these changes have helped to increase turnout, in recent years there have been numerous attempts to limit access to the ballot."

We agree with everything in the letter and hope that the Justice Department takes up this investigation.  We have created a page on our website to keep this letter.  With the decision by the Justice Department to intervene on the criminalization in Boise Idaho, we are hopeful that the Loretta Lynch Justice Department will take a serious look at Ohio's efforts to restrict access to voting.  We will keep you informed about the outcome. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinions of those who sign the entry.