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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.

Homeless Voting
Friday
May272016

Are Homeless Going to Be Displaced During RNC?

From Republican National Convention Official Event Zone Permit Regulations

Released May 25, 2016 by the City of Cleveland and the Cleveland Police  (pdf here)

Section_III. Prohibited Items
(a) Definitions. As used in this section:
(1) The terms “Convention Period,” ”Event Zone,” “Public Grounds,” “Secure Zone,” “Sidewalk,” and “Street” shall have the same meaning as Section II of these Regulations; and
(2) ”Public Access Areas” shall mean any space in the Event Zone, excluding spaces designated as the Secure Zone, that is open to access by the general public, including Streets, Sidewalks and Public Grounds.
(b) Within all Public Access Areas, the following items are prohibited during the Convention Period:

(18) Tents and other shelters, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, mattresses, cots, hammocks, bivy sacks, or stoves;
(19) Coolers or ice chests;
(20) Backpacks and bags exceeding the size of 18” x 13” x 7”;

The map released as part of the press release shows a huge area of the Downtown, Ohio City and the Campus District.  It extends from the Lake back to St. Vincent Hospital then from West 25th to the I-90 or East 27th on the East Side of Cleveland.  This area has four of the five largest shelters in Cleveland.  There are probably 90 to 110 homeless people living in this area.  There is a drop in center and a health care for homeless facility. 

There is language about employees or residents who work in this area are exempt from these rules.  Yet no exemption for homeless people.  Will they consider homeless people who live outside as residents of the neighborhood?  I don't understand why the area has to be so huge?  How could a protestor, Donald Trump supporter or homeless person living over by the Muny Lot or on the West Bank of the Flats have any impact on the convention?   This is going to be an issue with all the out of state police who may not have a full understanding of the relationship between homeless people and the Cleveland Police Department.  We do not want to go back to the days when we were regularly in federal court over sweeps.  We have a good agreement that has survived 16 years. 

We have sent a letter to the Police outlying our concerns. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Tuesday
May242016

Poverty Discussion at Organize Ohio

A group of people  from the Poverty Initiative from New York City, many whom are low-income leaders from the Midwest, East and South are coming to Cleveland today.  As part of that we will be panel discussion from 4:00-5:30 and 6:00-7:30 on issues of poverty in Cleveland.  There will be dinner served in between the panels.  You are all invited to attend and participate in those panel discussions and join in the dinner.  It will be held in the large conference room here at 3500 Lorain Avenue.  Our own Ramona will be presenting at this forum.  

Larry Bresler

Organize! Ohio

3500 Lorain Avenue Suite 501A

Cleveland, Ohio  44113

216-651-2606

Monday
May232016

New Fair Housing Guidelines

By Abby Bova

In light of the frequent discrimination against homeless people with a criminal background, specifically those of color, the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has established a new set of guidelines for those who are providing housing.  “The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, or financing of dwellings and in other housing-related activities on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status or national origin” (HUD).  This new movement for HUD will continue the fight for civil rights, begun in the 1960s, as they work for equal opportunity in housing for all Americans.  As much as one third of the U.S. population has some history with the criminal justice system, with the largest population of incarcerated individuals in the world. 

It is no surprise that a large portion of this prison population, and those who have been accused and arrested, is made up of black and Hispanic individuals, some of whom are serving unjust and unequal sentencing due to racial profiling (HUD).  Over nighty-five percent of this population will be released back to their communities at some point and will need to find some type of housing if they wish to be reintegrated into society.  “While having a criminal record is not a protected characteristic under the Fair Housing Act, criminal history-based restrictions on housing opportunities violate the Act if, without justification, their burden falls more often on renters or other housing market participants of one race or national origin over another (i.e., discriminatory effects liability)”, according to the HUD guidance to housing providers release. 

“In the first step of the analysis, a plaintiff (or HUD in an administrative adjudication) must prove that the criminal history policy has a discriminatory effect, that is, that the policy results in a disparate impact on a group of persons because of their race or national origin.  This burden is satisfied by presenting evidence proving that the challenged practice actually or predictably results in a disparate impact”(HUD).  This step has been put into place in order to protect those who have been accused or arrested, but never convicted of a crime.  Additionally, this step protects those who have been convicted of non-violent crimes, which pose no threat to property and other residents.  This guidance requests that arrest records should not be relied upon alone and may be discriminatory along with a policy that fails to consider other factors such as the age at the time of the offense, how long ago it took place, the nature of the offense, and what the person has been doing in the meantime – is there evidence of rehabilitation, were there any prior or subsequent convictions, etc.  This step will be especially beneficial to young black and Latino men who are commonly falsely arrested due to racial profiling, as well as the rest of the Latino and African American communities who experience racial profiling (HUD).

Accusations and arrests due to racial profiling have become a major topic of discussion over the past several years, and HUD has finally had enough.  These false accusations and arrests are reported to landlords and frequently keep men and women of color out of housing.  HUD asks housing providers to speak more in depth with housing applicants with a criminal record to further investigate the incident.  The housing provider should find out when and why this crime was committed, as well as talk to the applicant about what they have been up to since the arrest and how they have overcome the past.  The HUD lead staff states that those with major charges such as arson, production of meth, and homicide can be denied without much investigation.  However, they ask that charges such as use and possession be further investigated.

“In the second step of the discriminatory effects analysis, the burden shifts to the housing provider to prove that the challenged policy or practice is justified- that is, that it is necessary to achieve a substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory interest of the provider” (HUD).   The majority of housing providers claim that their policies are in place in order to protect their residents and their property.  Most courts will accept this as a legitimate reason for the rule.  Therefore, HUD has further implemented a process by which the housing provider must provide sufficient evidence as to how the rule in question protects the residents and their property.  “A housing provider with a policy or practice of excluding individuals because of one or more prior arrests (without conviction) cannot satisfy its burden of showing that such policy or practice is necessary to achieve a substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory interest” (HUD).  Meaning a housing provider cannot claim that he or she will not accept a candidate simply because they were arrested, in the interest of protecting their property and other tenants, because the individual was never charged with a crime.  The majority of these arrests without conviction are a result of racial profiling against innocent citizens (HUD).

“The third step of the discriminatory effects analysis is applicable only if a housing provider successfully proves that its criminal history policy or practice is necessary to achieve its substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory interests.  In the third step, the burden shifts back to the plaintiff or HUD to prove that such interest could be served by another practice that has a less discriminatory effect” (HUD).  “A housing provider violates the Fair Housing Act when the provider’s policy or practice has an unjustified discriminatory effect, even when the provider had no intent to discriminate” (HUD).  For example, if a land lord says that they will only house people with a high school diploma, GED’s don’t count, this could be considered unintentional discrimination because the majority of the population who has a GED in lieu of a high school diploma are African American or Hispanic peoples who grew up in poverty.  With HUD’s new guidelines the accuser must show significant proof that the rule is discriminatory and then they may provide an alternative method that is less discriminatory, but still achieves the main goal the housing provider was attempting to reach through the rule in question.

The first step in creating true equality is granting everyone their basic rights to food, clothing and shelter.  HUD has taken a dramatic step forward towards racial equality in housing through these new guidelines.  As a result of HUD’s fight against racial profiling in housing, they will dramatically decrease the population of homeless black and Latino individuals, slowing the cycle of poverty.  By giving individuals a second chance and a means of escaping poverty the nation will be able to take great strides in eradicating homelessness.  Additionally, by providing housing HUD will decrease the nation’s prison population by removing individuals from desperate situations on the streets, in turn saving these individuals from becoming repeat offenders. 

These new guidelines cover everything from the private sector to HUD subsidized housing.  If found in a situation, which one feels as though they have been discriminated against in housing in North East Ohio one may to contact The Legal Aid Society of Greater Cleveland  or Housing Research & Advocacy Center at 216-361-9240, and they will guide the client through filling a complaint.  This is a big step forward for housing in America as we continue the fight against discrimination. 

Information found in HUD’s Document : Office of General Counsel Guidance on Application of Fair Housing Standards to the Use of Criminal Records by Providers of Housing and Real Estate- Related Transactions.

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Saturday
May212016

Congrats to Our Top Sellers

The new paper came out last month and as soon as the new paper comes out we have a sales contest for the vendors.  The high sales person for the month gets a gift card worth around $100 and the second place vendor in sales gets a gift card around $50 usually for a food place/restaurant or grocery store.  Then we have a third place gift card for Subway or Pizza shop for the third place sales contest winner.  This time we had:

  • Dolores was the winner

  • Darlene came in second place and

  • Raymond in third place

You can pick up your issue at the West Side Market or downtown.  We have stories about the LGBT Center and questions that should be asked during an upcoming presidential debate of the candidates.   We have many articles from the vendors about their life and their experiences.  There are a couple of articles from women staying at the Women's Shelter in Cleveland.  We have a nice center spread of the faces of people who attended the Homeless Stand Down in Cleveland, and a story about homelessness in Canada. 

Dolores came rolling back with sales after a period of time sitting out a suspension.  She is working to restore trust and regain her customers. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Saturday
May142016

Cleveland Police Meet to Discuss RNC and Homeless People

The homeless social service providers had a really good meeting with the Cleveland Police Department in early May to talk about the upcoming Republican National Convention. There is a lot of concern that homeless people especially those who do not use the shelters will be targeted by angry demonstrators.  There is concern from homeless social service providers that this fragile population will be swept up in the anger of the current political environment in America.  Police also have a concern that demonstrators who are only in Cleveland for disorder and chaos will attempt to blend into the homeless community.

Thanks to Commander Stephens and Officer Petkac for hosting the meeting at their brand new Station on Chester.  We also need to thank new Council member Kerry McCormack and all the homeless service providers who attended. 

Some of the things we need to work on include:

  1. Security planners are trying for the smallest footprint to minimize disruptions to as close as possible to the Quicken Loan Arena as possible. Key working strategy is "minimally invasive."
  2. We need to solidify plans for the near West Side of Cleveland including an overnight drop in center.  We need to have a safe place two weeks before and during the convention for homeless people. We hope Metanoia will be open for one or two weeks.
  3. We need to make sure that the shelters keep people during the day so that they do not have to be out during the day.
  4. We also need a day time drop in center on the East Side of Cleveland.  This came into question because a number of facilities are having issues with not having security available.  Cleveland Police cannot be deployed to private facilities during the Convention.  They have to be ready to work all of the hours of the convention if necessary.
  5. We are going to offer training advice with police from out of town with a "Dos and Don'ts in working with homeless people in Cleveland flyer.  These flyers can be distributed and will be a part of the orientation.
  6. NEOCH staff will be the liaison between the police and the outreach teams.  Any issues contact Brian at NEOCH and he will get with our contacts at the Police Department.
  7.  Jim Schlecht talked about securing rental assistance for a group of homeless people during the convention.  He mentioned how New York City had helped 85 people get into housing when they hosted the convention in the past.
  8. There was also discussion of some tickets to special events or creating a "Stand Down" type event so there are alternatives to homeless people to being downtown during the convention. 
  9.  We did learn that there should not be major road closures despite the rumors to the contrary.  At this point the Lorain Carnegie Bridge will not be closed, but it could be packed full of travel buses so may want to be avoided.
  10.  It looks like East 9th St. will be dedicated to transporting media and delegates with a lane for these buses and livery vehicles.  This means that cross traffic will only be allowed at Lakeside, Superior, Euclid and Carnegie.  Best to walk Downtown and avoid using a vehicle during the convention. 
  11. Payne Ave. will have a parking lane for police cars, but should be available for auto traffic.
  12. We will have one final discussion with the Cleveland Police in late June to get all of our ducks in a row.

On a personal note, the homeless community is going to miss Commander Stephens who will retire after the convention.  He was very forthcoming and transparent in his dealings with homeless people over the last five or six years.  He came to the Homeless Congress after the shooting death of two homeless people in 2012 and asked for calm.  He guaranteed that there would be an investigation and admitted the police had made extreme errors in judgement that contributed to the death of these unarmed citizens.  He was committed to a fair process for investigating and seeking justice in the death of Williams and Russell.  He agreed to return to explain the results after the judicial system had completed their work.  This was before the trials, the justice department intervention and all that has transpired since that fateful night in the East Cleveland school yard.   Commander Stephens has tried to foster a level of respect for those without housing living in the Third District in Cleveland and continue the work of Commander Gonzalez.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.