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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.

The Cleveland Street Chronicle
Jim Schlecht Event
Thursday
Dec222016

How You Can Help During the Holidays

Giving to an Agency is Still Helping And They Can Multiply Your Donations to Serve Hundreds

Each year as the holidays approach NEOCH receives many calls from well-meaning individuals wanting to personally help the homeless by taking them gifts, blankets and food.  We are asked where the homeless gather and where they can find the tent cities, the homes that unsheltered people live in.  The following is NEOCH’s response to those requests.

It is not the best public policy to encourage people to stay outside with the hope that a Good Samaritan will come by to help a guy struggling with mental illness, anger issues, addiction or PTSD.  We encourage homeless people to go inside to libraries, drop in centers and meal programs during these cold weather days. 

We do not provide home addresses of homeless people because no one wants a stranger showing up at their home offering gifts.  No one would want the Coalition to give out the home address of the readers of this blog so that some well-meaning religious person could show up at theirdoor to offer you something that you did not ask for.  It is dangerous to be wandering around the streets of Cleveland with presents to give out to random people who look homeless.  You may be hurt by an addict looking for a score.  If you really want to give directly to an individual then give to a panhandler who is visible typically in a well lit area, but understand that most panhandlers are not homeless and whatever they say on their signs are most likely hype similar to advertisements for free phones by cell phone companies.

There are many agencies who spend the whole year developing relationships with homeless people.  Give to them if you want to help or you can volunteer with them.  These agencies and outreach workers know the needs of each one of the unsheltered homeless and can best meet those needs if they are the ones handing out the donated items.  These agencies have professionally trained staff to help and they are aware of the dangers and mental issues of their clients.   Here are a few agencies who employ staff to go out and help those living rough outside: Care Alliance, Metanoia, 2100 Lakeside, Frontline Services, CWRU Labre, St Ignatius Labre, Salvation Army,  JCU Labre, Sub Zero Mission and the VA.

There was a really good episode of the TruTV series Adam Ruins Everything called Adam Ruins Giving who busts many of the myths about canned food drives, donating and clothing drives.  He publishes the facts referenced in the episode here.  The show pointed out an agency like NEOCH, the Foodbank, Salvation Army, or West Side Catholic can take your cold hard cash and turn it into serving hundreds of people.  We can have staff search around for businesses who will give us a deep discount or even free stuff because they have a relationship with us.  We got a donation a couple of weeks ago and the donor was wanting to spend a thousand dollars at an Army Navy store for homeless people, but the owner had to charge retail prices for the items.  Instead the donor gave to NEOCH and we got 35% more for our money at the same store, because the store can donate to a non-profit but could not donate to an individual.   I know it is not as personal as giving directly to a person, but it is way better for society. Yes, all the non-profits have overhead and administration costs, but that just means paying a person to call around for the best price and then going over to pick up the items and prepare them for distribution. 

We have a number of places on our website that you can volunteer and directly serve homeless people. As mentioned in the Plain Dealer story there are plenty of places to donate who provide items directly to homeless people.  They include:

I know you have seen it on TV or on the movies that you want to brighten the day of the less fortunate during the holidays.  But homeless people need help year around and are overwhelmed with food, presents, and good will during the holidays.  They are often burnt out from all the good will and may not be appreciative of the help.  Donors may be disappointed that the homeless person does not seem appreciative of the help.  Many are dealing with overwhelming life issues and are carrying heavy burdens or struggle with a mental illness which may make them lash out.   We cannot give out the "home" addresses of those struggling with housing.   If you want to help the homeless community there are plenty of better ways to do that.  Even with the best intentions,  just popping into a homeless gathering place with a few presents could cause more problems than not.  You may not have enough for everyone, causing resentment and calls of favoritism or hurt feelings.  Finding someone who already works with this population and knows the people personally is the best way.  Check out the website for good ideas for helping.

Happy Holidays!

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Thursday
Dec222016

Homeless Memorial Day 2016

 

Aggie Hoskins and Chip Joseph

Peter Schindler, Tim Walters, and David Dombrowiak

The Homeless Memorial Day in Cleveland took place on December 21, 2016 at West Side Catholic Center and we had around 120 people attend.  We read the names of 103 people who passed away over the last year and spent time homeless.  We had Senator Sherrod Brown as our main speaker who brought warm wishes to homeless people and talked about the release of the federal Continuum of Care funding from the federal government.  Senator Brown sat and talked with the guests and had to be pulled away to start the program.  We heard prayers from Doug Horner of St Pauls Community Church who made the front page of the Plain Dealer as well as Rabbi Joshua Carruso of Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple.  Drew Genzsler the CEO of Lutheran Metro Ministry and a Chaplin in the Navy gave a Central American Prayer for the dead. 

 

 

 

There was some good coverage of the story in the Plain Dealer including a great slide show of the participants. WKSU had a nice story as one of the local NPR affiliates talked to a resident of the Women's shelter who lost her room mate who drowned. 

Jennifer Kocan, NEOCH Board Treasurer read the names of those who passed away at the Memorial.  Sue DiNardo, former staff at West Side Catholic, was memorialized as well as those who died while spending some time homeless in 2016.  We read the names of 103 people which was the largest number in the 30 year history of the Memorial in Cleveland.  From reading 7 names on Public Square in 1986 to the church memorials and now taking place at various meal programs.  This event attempts to make people aware of the homeless population in Cleveland and to remember our friends who died who in life are largely forgotten. 

We have posted the list at our In Memoriam page with all the names with the misspelling and duplicates removed.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Monday
Dec192016

NEOCH Membership Campaign Kicks Off for 2017

I read somewhere that Paul Newman and A. E. Hotchner would sit around a fire during the holidays with a fine scotch to decide on which charitable groups receive the profits from their Newman’s Own food line.  I am not sure that this is true, but it is a great image.  I hope that in these tough times when you gather with family or friends this holiday season that you will invest your hard earned dollars with NEOCH to continue our valuable work on providing Hope to the Homeless.

Social Justice Took a Real Hit This Year--We Need Your Help More Than Ever!

  • It was a rough year for social justice, with hundreds of families showing up seeking shelter and not able to find beds in Cleveland.   Those families are staying in a gymnasium after the City Mission stepped forward to help, but because of changes in national policy priorities, Cleveland lost 444 shelter beds in the last dozen years. 
  • It is going to be a rough year ahead with little opportunity for advocacy at the national level with all the changes in Washington. It is going to be tough to maintain the local guaranteed access to shelter in Cleveland with the huge loss in housing and homeless services expected in 2017.
  • There are only a few public policy homeless organizations left in the United States and we need groups who will get information out to the community about the rapid changes taking place in the social safety net. 

To meet all these challenges, we need a strong public policy group in Cleveland.  We need a group that will tell the public about the extent of the problem and possible solutions.   The community needs a group that has the trust of the media and elected officials to alert them of potential “canaries in the coal mine.”  Cleveland needs a strong resource of where to find shelter and homeless services locally. 

Would your family consider becoming a member of NEOCH to help support the advocacy, HousingCleveland.org, the Street Card and outreach coordination?

 Much of the work that NEOCH does directly benefits your community, such as

  • Working to limit laws that specifically target homeless people.
  • Updating and circulating the Street Card (a regular one, a veteran’s edition and a family edition).
  • Marketing and expanding the affordable housing website, HousingCleveland.org to assist those individuals looking for housing a place to go to find the housing.
  • Meeting with Congressional staff in the district offices and in Washington twice a year to assure that the problems faced by Clevelanders are heard in Congress. 
  • We have convened meetings with homeless people and regularly meet with County Council members and Cleveland City Council members to raise awareness of the issue of homelessness.
  • We gave away a quarter million in winter items as part of our “SocksPlus” campaign in the last year. 

The Coalition began in the mid 1980s, the last time there was such a sharp increase in family homelessness.  We need your support while as we work through this current crisis in family homelessness.    

Please consider joining NEOCH as an individual member and providing financial support, so that we can continue to work to amplify the opinions and recommendations of homeless people, and so that we can continue to bring additional resources to Cleveland and Cuyahoga County.  It is easy to donate:

This next year is going to be critical, and we need your support.  We need a strong local advocacy organization working on homelessness to assure that the interests of homeless families are heard.  Our goal, like yours, is to continue to make a difference in our community and in the lives of those experiencing homelessness in Cuyahoga County.  As partners with schools, shelters, politicians, and food programs, we can continue to work toward the much needed improvements in our community.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Monday
Dec192016

Fake News: The Homeless Numbers Are Made Up 

New report once again misleads lawmakers and the public about the supposed ‘decline’ in numbers of people experiencing homelessness in the United States.

Washington, December 19, 2016 –
As we rapidly approach the end of another year, cities around the country are preparing vigils recognizing those who have lived and died without adequate housing in 2016. November’s release of the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress by the Department of Housing and Urban Development may give those attending some small cause for hope, describing a 3% decrease in the number of men, women, and children experiencing homelessness, counted on a single winter night, over last year’s number.

Unfortunately the report leaves out some important information. For instance, the count in question tallies those staying in emergency and transitional shelters, as well as those who can be located outside. HUD’s recent decreases in funding for such shelters means fewer members of the homeless population are easily accounted for. HUD provides bonuses to communities that decrease their count, creating a disincentive for those conducting counts to locate every unsheltered person in their neighborhoods.

Furthermore, HUD only asks communities to report those who it considers “literally homeless.” This doesn’t include the large numbers of individuals and families who are doubled up or “couch surfing” with friends and relatives. This unrealistic definition of homelessness explains why HUD reported just over 120,000 children experiencing homelessness on a given night, while the Department of Education has reported well over ten times as many children youths registered as homeless in recent years, a number that has more than doubled over the last decade.

The reports of HUD and other governmental and non-governmental organizations purporting to chart a decline in the numbers of those experiencing homelessness are doing a disservice to those men and women who we have lost this year without the basic dignities afforded by secure housing. While so many of those who are tasked with ending homelessness in America won’t admit to the actual scope of the problem, they cannot be relied upon to enact meaningful solutions to it.

The National Coalition for the Homeless calls upon the Department of Housing and Urban Development to face up to the reality that homelessness is not diminishing in America. We call on HUD and its allies to work with us and other organizations to put into place housing policies and investments that will ensure an end to the memorial vigils that have become a disgraceful necessity every December 21st, the longest night of the year.

# # #

Full Disclosure: NEOCH Executive Director is a Board Vice President for NCH.

The National Coalition for the Homeless is a national network of people who are currently experiencing or who have experienced homelessness, activists and advocates, community-based and faith-based service providers, and others committed to a single mission: To prevent and end homelessness while ensuring the immediate needs of those experiencing homelessness are met and their civil rights protected. www.nationalhomeless.org 

 

Friday
Dec162016

Candlelight Vigil to Remember Those Homeless Individuals Who Died in 2016

                  Senator Sherrod Brown will be our honored speaker at the 2016 Homeless Memorial Day in Cleveland and the event will feature famed guitarist Brian Henke.  The 30th Annual Homeless Memorial Day will take place on Wednesday December 21, 2016 at West Side Catholic Center at 3135 Lorain Ave. at 1 p.m.  US Senator Sherrod Brown is a friend to homeless people most recently helping City Mission with an issue regarding homeless families’ access to tax payer services. 

Brown is the ranking Democrat on the Banking Housing and Urban Affairs Committee in the Senate which is critical to proposing national housing and homeless policies in the United States.  This year we will read the names of those who passed away over the last year and spent some time homeless, and unfortunately this will be the longest list in our 30 year history of the vigil.  We will have a number of religious leaders who offer a prayer for those who passed away, along with music from Brian Henke.  We will light a candle as we remember those who passed away over the last year.   Media are welcome to attend and photograph the memorial/vigil. 

                 We have seen another increase in women who need shelter and families at the same time seeing a decrease in the number of available shelter beds.  We have actually noticed an unfortunate decline in donations of blankets and winter items possibly because it was so warm until late in the year.  We hope this turns around during this holiday season.  We are also all worried about future funding for the shelters and social services in light of no discussions during the Presidential elections of the crisis in affordable housing facing our country. 

               Joining with other cities throughout the state and country, the Cleveland vigil will include a look back at homelessness in Cleveland.  In 2009, Ohio legislators designated December 21 as Ohio Homeless Memorial Day. Every big city in Ohio has a similar vigil to remember those who have passed away over the previous year.   We will read the names of those who passed away and had some experience with homelessness on Wednesday after the meal at West Side Catholic.  We typically have around 100 people who attend the memorial and this year we will also remember West Side Catholic long term staff member Sue DiNardo who suddenly passed away in the last few weeks. 

by Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry