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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.

Wednesday
Dec302015

Time is Running Out to Donate for Auction

Time is running out to donate to NEOCH and Participate in the Auction!!

Thanks to those who have already donated.  We appreciate your kindness.

As we close out 2015, there is still time to donate to NEOCH as part of our 2016 Annual Appeal in order to participate in our auction.  We have under “Member Deal of the Month” announced an auction for anyone donating $50 to the membership campaign.  We just received 4 tickets to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo added as an additional auction item.  Your donations have been hard at work over the holidays as NEOCH staff are busy with our advocacy, public policy work, collecting SocksPlus donations and giving them out to homeless people.  http://www.neoch.org/member-deal-of-the-month/  We are doing regular updates of our website and we coordinated the most heart-wrenching part of our job the Homeless Memorial Day.  We read the names of 68 people who passed away over the last year who were homeless in Cleveland. 

In November and December, we collected $48,000 in socks, hygiene kits, backpacks, sleeping bags and other winter items that we are distributing right now.  We have purchased another $15,000 in boots, hand warmers, hoodies, and housing assistance.  If you have not donated, we are collecting donations throughout the winter here is a page on the items we collect:  http://www.neoch.org/blankets-and-donations/

Our core operation is our advocacy and forwarding solutions to homelessness.  We are working on providing an improved shelter system in Cleveland and assuring that families do not fall through the cracks.  We are working to stop municipal targeting of homeless people and assure that homeless people will have their vote count in 2016.  We regularly update our public policy work in the Cleveland Homeless Blog here: http://www.neoch.org/cleveland-homeless-blog/ We regularly update our Twitter feed at clevhomeless on a daily basis. 

We are only as strong as our membership.  We need your support to show bureaucrats and elected officials that we have a healthy base of individuals, homeless and formerly homeless people backing our advocacy.  Please donate today to take advantage of the 2015 tax benefits.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Tuesday
Dec292015

Joyce is Back in Action!!!

Here are a few interesting stories Joyce found while surfing the net about homelessness.

Food insecurity and homelessness continue to plague many of the nation's largest cities, according to a new report released by the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Across 22 of the cities surveyed — including Chicago; Washington, D.C.; Baltimore; Philadelphia; and San Francisco — the amount of emergency food assistance increased by 3 percent between Sept. 1, 2014, and Aug. 31, 2015. In addition, homelessness increased across all of the cities by an average 1.6 percent over the same period. 

Many community college students, who often balance jobs, families and studies, struggle with paying for food and housing, according to a new study. A survey of more than 4,000 undergraduates at 10 community colleges determined that half of all community college students are struggling with food and/or housing insecurity, said researchers at the Wisconsin HOPE Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Hidden behind the government district in downtown Phoenix sits a cluster of homeless shelters, food banks and clinics. Of the services offered, few help those participate in one of the most basic civil rights of American citizens — the right to vote. Both local and national election processes present the difficult tasks of finding a ballot, getting to a voting place, accessing election information and acquiring the necessary identification to register and cast a vote. 

A 24-year-old homeless woman who cops said had been living in her car with her 3-year-old daughter in Las Vegas for about a week was charged Monday in the automobile rampage that killed one and wounded at least 35 others Sunday night.  (For members we have a short piece about could this happen in Cleveland in the Member Hub by logging into the website.)

Students in the College of Health and Human Development often find careers in fields that serve the homeless. Whether they are administrators of health care facilities, managers of social services, physicians, counselors, or any number of other service-related careers, students will likely, at some point in their career, work with people wrestling with homelessness.  For this reason, the college is committed to helping students prepare to serve those who are homeless with care and compassion.  

Front Street Community Health Center in Juneau has a new permanent nurse practitioner after a year of temporary medical providers. The health clinic, which caters primarily to people who are homeless, has gone through a lot of growing pains since it separated from Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium two years ago.  

Homelessness in Hawaii has grown in recent years, leaving the state with 487 homeless per 100,000 people, the nation's highest rate per capita, ahead of New York and Nevada, according to federal statistics. The increase, driven by years of rising costs in the island chain, low wages and limited land, thrust the image of people sleeping on beaches alongside the state's famed one of a relaxing tropical paradise.

Though it has made much progress, the Department of Veterans Affairs is likely to miss its target on two ambitious goals: ending veteran homelessness in 2015 and ending the backlog in disability claims.  The latest count available showed about 50,000 homeless veterans on a single night in January 2014.

To address the crisis of homeless families in Central Florida — where one of every 17 children spent at least part of last year living in a motel, shelter, the family car or someone else's home — leaders called Tuesday for a major increase in affordable housing and support from politicians in Tallahassee. "While some of those kids do have a roof over their heads, the fact that they may be doubled up with family members or living in a one-room hotel with their entire family — that's not sufficient to create the kind of self-esteem and security they need," Jacobs said.

November was National Youth Runaway Prevention Month, and one local man was going to do all that he can to raise awareness. Kyle Wales was approached by Youth Services and Chiselbox to help spread the word for the upcoming Wheeling Sleep Out, an annual event to raise community support and funds for Homeless Youth in the Ohio Valley. 

More than 500,000 people  a quarter of them children  were homeless in the United States this year amid scarce affordable housing across much of the nation, according to a study released on Thursday. Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, Oregon and Hawaii have all recently declared emergencies over the rise of homelessness, and on Thursday Seattle's mayor toured a new encampment for his city's dispossessed.

The Incarcerated Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 732 has created care packages for the local homeless population and those who have lost their homes, complete with a sleeping bag, garment bag, mittens, toiletries and a mat woven from nonbiodegradable plastic shopping bags to keep them from sleeping on wet ground.  

By Joyce Robinson

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Monday
Dec282015

Posted the Names of Those Who Passed Away

We have posted the 69 names of people we read at the Memorial and the woman who passed away at the shelter last Monday night.  Here is a list of the names for 2015.  We also have a page dedicated to all the lists of names separated by year here

We had over 120 people attend the service.  We thank Dee Perry for hosting the event and lending her golden voice to reading the names.  We had Councilman Zack Reed attend the event to say a few words as one of the elected representatives who has the responsibility of preserving and expanding affordable housing in Cleveland.  The volunteers over at St. Malachi were busy preparing their Christmas meal at 6 p.m. on December 21 as part of one of the oldest meal programs in the City.

There were two individuals who offered a prayer for those who passed. Fr. Tony from St. Malachi as the host congregation and Deacon Larry Davis of the NEOCH Board offered a few words of from their own faith traditions.  I gave a few thoughts on the previous year in homelessness and seeing more people on the streets, more women at the Community Women's shelter and fewer beds available in Cleveland.  I talked about the Pope's visit to America and his call to serve the least among us. 

Finally, we gave a small token of appreciation to Chip Joseph who is retiring this year as director of Y-Haven.  Chip was also one of the first directors of the Cosgrove Center 20 years ago.  We will miss his advocacy for transitional programs and services for those with an addiction.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Tuesday
Dec222015

Homeless Memorial Day 2015

 

For the 29th time in Cleveland, we read the names of the people who passed away in 2015.  The same night we were reading the names of 68 people who passed away over at St. Malachi, Vickie Fann was quietly slipping away in her sleep over at the Community Women's Shelter.  Vickie had a long history of health issues and probably never should have been living at a women's shelter with her breathing machine.  When the other residents who regularly checked on her went to awake her in the morning she was gone.  Staff of the shelter did all they could, but she had passed away in her sleep sometime during the night of December 21. 

The Homeless Memorial is one of the more sombre and painful events of the Coalition.  We spend five weeks calling the shelters and social service providers looking for names.  We keep a list of those we hear about on the streets over the year, and we want to make sure that people are not forgotten in death as they are largely forgotten in life.  This year we brought in professional help to host the event with Cleveland's most experienced master of nearly every ceremony, Dee Perry of WCPN.  She has hosted Fourth of July with the Orchestra and MLK services at Severance.  She has done New Year's Eve and the lighting of the chandelier at Playhouse Square along with her work as the host of the Sound of Applause on WCPN and WVIZ TV.  Dee was gracious enough to lend her beautiful voice to reading the names of those who died over the last year. 

Councilman Zack Reed was our keynote for the event and we recognized Chip Joseph for his long service to homeless people upon his retirement this year.  Councilman Reed has had a great deal of contact with homeless people this year.  A couple of his constituents have called regularly to complain about having to sleep in the Women's shelter and his office has asked for help with people sleeping outside in his ward.  Reed served at the Cosgrove's Feast and Fellowship dinner for homeless people.  He also attended the Homeless Congress in November and vowed to at least get a response from the shelter and/or the County to all the problems over at the Women's shelter.  He agreed to come back in 2016 to talk about the ideas brought up by homeless people in 2015.   At the Memorial, he talked about all the people struggling in his neighborhood in the shadow of the prosperity being developed downtown.  Reed wanted a reorganization of the priorities in Cleveland to close the gap in the "two Clevelands" that he has become painfully aware of in his 15 years of elected service. 

Father Tony from St. Malachi and I talked about the message from the Pope about serving the least among us after Pope Francis's visit to the United States in 2016.  Deacon Larry Davis from the NEOCH Board gave a prayer for the dead and then we lit candles for the 68 names read at the service.  Before the service started we gave a small token of our appreciation for Chip Joseph, the current director of Y-Haven.  He was the former director of the Cosgrove Center and a huge advocate for homeless people, transitional shelters and services to addicts in our community.   The photo above is Fr. Tony standing next to Chip as the names are read joining 100 other Coalitions in marking this first day of winter.

Everyone gathered hoped that this was the last service, but we know that there will be more Vickie Fanns in 2016.   Any period of homelessness is really hard on a person's body.   The sleep deprivation, stress and inability to get a good meal on a regular basis is horrible on a person's health.  Bouncing around from one bed to another and the self medicating that so frequently goes on during homelessness reduce the lifespan of a typical human.   We will most likely be back on December 21, 2016 to read another list of names on Ohio Homeless Memorial Day.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Monday
Dec212015

History of NEOCH Civil Rights

For the entire history of the Coalition, staff have worked on protecting against municipal actions that target homeless people and the hate crimes that result when government singles out one group in our society.  We believe that there is a correlation between high numbers of hate crimes against homeless people and the cities in the United States that routinely pass laws directed at homeless people.  It is for this reason that we regularly oppose “quality of life” laws and targeted enforcement against homeless people for purely innocent behavior of attempting to live without housing.  Here is a summary of the NEOCH Civil Rights work:

Clements vs. Cleveland

The first attempt in the mid 1990s to stop police arresting and threatening arrest of homeless people for purely innocent behavior of sitting or sleeping on the sidewalk.  Police accused of driving homeless people to the outskirts of Cuyahoga County and dropping them off the bus line.  The City of Cleveland eventually settled with the four plaintiffs and basically blamed “rogue cops” for misinterpreting the directives issued from the administration.  Richard Clements passed away in New York this year.

Homeless Grapevine vs. City of Cleveland

The City felt that vendors of the street newspaper must buy a license before they could sell a paper on the sidewalks of Cleveland.  NEOCH won in the district court, but was reversed on appeal.  City tried to pass legislation to force vendors buy a license, but could not get the legislation through the City Council.  Vendors are currently free to sell the paper within the City of Cleveland with only an agency issued license, but City maintains right to regulate the sidewalk if the City Council can agree. 

Key vs. City of Cleveland

This was the second attempt to stop the sweeps of homeless people in Cleveland.  Police began ticketing homeless people around the holidays to encourage people to come Downtown to shop.  Police were willing to testify that this was City policy at the time because they did not want to be labelled as “going rogue.”  Cleveland settled the lawsuit in 2000 and we have posed the settlement on our website.  It basically states that the police will not arrest or threaten arrest anyone for purely innocent behavior of sitting, sleeping, standing or eating on the sidewalk as long as they are not blocking access.  NEOCH tests this agreement every November to assure that it is still being followed (Appendix A). 

Stun Gun Attacks

In the early 2000s, there were young people who came to Cleveland from Youngstown and recorded themselves using a Taser stun gun to shock homeless people and film their reaction.  NEOCH pushed for harsh punishments for these three young people, and held a community meeting to talk about protection for vulnerable populations.

Homeless Exploitation Videos

There were major retailers in the United States online and in stores that were selling videos of homeless people fighting in exchange for change or alcohol.  NEOCH worked with the National Coalition for the Homeless to convince major retailers such as Best Buy and Target to stop selling these exploitation videos in their stores.  These were recorded by young people and collected together and then sold in many stores and online retailers.

Covenant to Serve Food

The City was concerned over the mess being created on Public Square by church groups feeding homeless people.  We worked with the new administration to avoid the City passing legislation that we would have had to challenge in court.  NEOCH worked out a “covenant” where the church groups would move off public square to a parking lot with trash and bathroom facilities and the City agreed to not introduce legislation.

The Right to Shelter

Since the founding of the Coalition, NEOCH has fought to assure that the shelters are accessible to everyone in need and at no time will the shelters turn people away over a lack of space.  For over 20 years we have had guaranteed access to shelter in Cleveland, and we have worked to improve the conditions at the shelters.  When the shelters are full, providers will transport people to a church or recreation center as an overflow site if the building capacity is reached.  We also support the development of an overnight drop in center similar to Metanoia for the entire year.

Voting Lawsuit Against the State of Ohio

NEOCH has filed suit against the State of Ohio and three Secretaries of State from 2005 through the present over voting procedures in the state.  Our concern was regarding the identification requirements and their impact on reducing turnout by low income, homeless and minority voters.  I have provided a series of depositions in this case.  In years 2006, 2008 and 2012, we had a settlement with the state to allow homeless people to use a social security number to have their ballot count if they voted in person.  This agreement was binding until 2014 when the state changed the law regarding the use of identification for provisional ballots.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

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