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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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Thursday
Apr022015

NEOCH Annual Meeting for 2014

NEOCH hosted our regular gathering of advocates as part of the agencies Annual Meeting for 2014 on April 1, 2015.  We gave out three awards this year to Beau Hill as the Social Service Advocate of the Year for 2014.  We have not given out this particular award since 2010.  We gave Demetrius Barnes, the Volunteer of the Year for 2014 and Norman Wolfe was awarded the Advocate of the Year.  We will have details of each in three separate posts.  We released our Annual Report or Community Benefit report and posted it on our website here.  Notice our attempt to stay relevant with modern Cleveland by utilizing "New Brown's Orange" as our color for this year.

Jennifer, the Board Treasurer provided an overview of some of our accomplishments from 2014 which are detailed in the Annual Report. We talked about the fantastic outreach coordination and the hiring of Denise and Tyrone, which has been a huge improvement in our outreach coordination for the agency.  We talked about the Socks Plus campaign and the huge number of donations that we gave out and continue to give out this winter/spring. I gave information about some of the projects we are working on for the next year. Larry did a really nice job in acting as the Master of Ceremony for the Annual Meeting. 

The highlight of the evening for the members who attended was the talk by Julian Rogers of Cleveland State University.  Rogers is a former County Council member and gave us a good summary of how we could improve our advocacy to be more effective.  He talked about:

  • Keep the campaigns simple (one to three items).  Everytime an elected official sees someone from NEOCH they should think about the advocacy campaign.
  • Get to know staff who might be willing to help.  Staff do so much of the work behind the scenes. 
  • Always look for opportunity to compromise.
  • Try partnering with diverse groups who might have similar interests but can strengthen your advocacy.
  • Make sure that the people affected by the issue take the lead in the advocacy.
  • Have a Plan B if your position is not getting much traction.
  • Have a good story about the dream that you want to see fulfilled and in the end this is what you want to see accomplished.
  • Open up the conversation to as many people as possible--don't focus on only one office or one elected office holder.
  • Try to move those who are reluctant to support your position.  How can we better position you for this particular issue or cause.
  • You must have data to support your position.
  • Highlight a specific issue that can be the focus of your campaign referenced turning the shelters into job centers.

The NEOCH Board elected new officers for the next year and thanked everyone for supporting the Coalition over the year. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Friday
Mar272015

Teach In Last Week on the Importance of Outreach

We had a really nice open house at Winton on Lorain last week to see how wonderful these units are for the community.  We had presentations by EDEN and Frontline Services and many of the outreach workers in the community.  The highlight of the evening was with Roy and Mike talked about moving from the streets into housing.  They both talked about the importance of Jim Schlecht for helping to find their way into housing. 

County Council persons Dale Miller and Yvonne Conwell both attended to hear about this critical resource in the community.  Both Roy and Mike spent years on the streets, both turned to alcohol or drugs to cope and both were able to make it through a year of recovery. Winton on Lorain is right next to the VA transitional housing program, and that corner near the freeway has dramatically approved over the last 10 years. 

It was quite an education provided by Toni Johnson and Denise Toth who spoke about how valuable outreach is in the community.  They talked about building trusting relationships and not giving up on the people outside.  All the outreach teams talked about the difficult times many of these guys have in finding help.  The guys talked about the huge hills they had to climb to get back into housing.  We will have the next Teach In during the lunch hour and hopefully others will be able to attend. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Friday
Mar272015

How Do You Apply Broken Windows to a Tent???

NPR did a long piece (14 minutes) last Sunday on Skid Row and walking around with police and "residents" of the largest homeless encampment in North America.  The story just glossed over the flaws in the Broken Window Theory of law enforcement and stepped right into the relationship with the police.  The San Francisco Examiner did a better job showing the fallout of this policy of strict enforcement of even minor infractions of the law

The report starts with some defining of the terms which includes the "Safer Cities" initiative.  Police Chief William Bratton is the Johnnie Appleseed of this project and leading proponent of the theory.  He brought both the New York and Los Angeles police forces into this zero tolerance theory of policing after Bratton was chief of both departments.  Kelly McEvers is the author of this story and Tom Dreisbach was a correspondent for NPR working on this story.

DREISBACH: The idea is to cite or arrest people for the little stuff - jaywalking, drinking in public, blocking sidewalks.

MCEVERS: You know, that whole broken windows approach that was made famous by ex-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

DREISBACH: If you stop people from committing the little crimes...

MCEVERS: ...They'll be less likely to commit the big crimes.

No one saw the irony of talking about "broken windows" in the context of hundreds of tents. There are no windows to break in a tent.   Skid Row is the break down of society, and community policing in a chaotic society has to be different than in the suburbs.  A neighborhood falling down may need a strong police presence to keep it from tipping over the edge.  A neighborhood without order, basic sanitation, and safety needs about 1,000 things before a they need a strong police show of force.  Ticketing and jailing residents of Skid Row only prolongs their stay on the streets.  Low barriers housing is the key, but it is not cheap. 

What if jail were better than living on the streets?  What if the debt cycle from all the broken window tickets mean the person will never be able to find stability?  What if the police begin to see the city as a lost cause and become fatalistic about the residents?  Where do homeless people with alcohol problems consume alcohol if they have an addiction--everywhere is an open container?  Where do people go to the bathroom if no business will allow them to use their precious facilities?  What if the rest of society decides that the Skid Row community is not worth the trouble?  What if a desperate population begins to confront the police with every ticket written?   Why wouldn't NPR cover the absurdity of punishing people for broken windows on a tent?

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who signt he entry. 

Sunday
Mar222015

CAHA Featuring Bill Faith of COHHIO

Every other year, we like to hear from the leading lobbyist for an end to poverty in Ohio, Bill Faith executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing.  The Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance meeting is a once a month look at the state of housing locally.  We review troubled properties and check in on various programs that meet the housing needs to those struggling in the community.  The April CAHA meeting will feature Bill Faith who leads the state housing coalition. 

The meeting is April 6, 2015 at 1:30 p.m. at the HUD offices at 1350 Euclid Ave. in the lower level. The meeting is open to the public.  Bill will talk about the Ohio State budget proposals being discussed down in Columbus.  Faith will give some highlights of the potential budget and its impact on housing and homelessness in Ohio.  He will talk about the State Housing Trust fund and the national budget.  The National Housing Trust finally has money and what will that mean for Ohio.  Join us to hear Bill Faith provide his take on state and national issues.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinions of those who sign the entry.

Sunday
Mar222015

SocksPlus Update

R.A Washington, poet

There was a really nice fundraiser last week at 78th Street Studio a facility that I had no idea existed in Cleveland.  Spending most of my existence on the East Side, I cannot understand how I missed this place.  It is a giant warehouse full of artists from all different media.  It is definitely worth a walk through.  Thanks to RA Washington, Katie Daily, and Russell Vidrick for performing poetry at the #SocksPlus benefit last week.   I recorded Vidrick years ago when I did a poetry show on WRUW-FM 91.1 so it was nice to see him again. 

Community West Foundation also held a #SocksPlus campaign this weekend in the Gordon Square area.  We are nearing the end of the second round of boots and backpacks that we are distributing on the streets of Cleveland.  We are purchasing new items for the upcoming month. We are focusing on keeping people dry over the next few months.  We will have a backpack and boots but also rain ponchos, sleeping bags and tents available. We are still working on building relationships with people to get them inside.

Katie Daily, poet

We received a large number of hygiene items from Fairview Hospital this last week.  People have been dropping off socks at the Community West Foundation and sending it to both us from Amazon.com.  We received blankets from Pat Catans and some additional panels to be made into additional blankets.  People have dropped off comforters, and winter items.  We have delivered boxes of clothing to the Cosgrove Center for their weekly giveaways.  We have also involved a couple of additional partners to giveaway the items.  Last weekend, we had a family drop off backpacks full of small gifts and hygiene items for homeless people.   And we are still getting blankets for our blanket drive.  We gave a little over 100 blankets to 2100 Lakeside this week. 

One item that we have not gotten as many as we had hoped through our blanket drive is towels or wash cloths.  Many of the outreach workers have been calling asking for towels, but we really have not seen many donated this week.  We are still doing the blanket drive for another month. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.