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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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August 7 Teach In

We are planning an event to highlight the amazing work of the outreach teams.  We want to show off the amazing Permanent Supportive Housing Programs in Cleveland and the impact they have on people's lives.  We will hear from a couple of residents and then have the ability to go see where these guys came from by visiting their former campsites. We would welcome that you join us.  We just ask that you RSVP to attend.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.


Housing is Healthcare!

This morning on Morning Edition there was a discussion about New York state's effort to use federal health care dollars for housing.  They specifically are petitioning the federal government to be able to use Medicaid dollars for housing.  The State's argument is that they already pay for housing in mental health facilities and nursing homes or the inability to discharge people to the streets so why not pay for safe places for people to recover from a serious health condition? WCPN also weighed in with a story about the value of expanded Medicaid to a family. I have seen attempts in Colorado and Boston to do innovative housing using health care dollars.  So, to answer the question posed on NPR, yes, housing is healthcare!

Imagine breaking your leg and going to the hospital to have it set while sleeping in a shelter.  The hospital will release you with a cast and then try to get bed rest to recover from the broken bone.  It is not easy and it is unlikely that you will be able to keep the leg up while you recover.  You have to go get food and most shelters make you leave from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.  How do you recover from a fever in a shelter or even surgery?   Behavioral health issues are just as big of a problem for those without housing because they cannot find a place to recover.   There is the problem of repeated trips to the most expensive part of the health care continuum with emergency room care.  There is repeat visits because homelessness and bed rest are mutually exclusive.  There is the issue of sleep deprivation in the homeless community which then causes other health issues.  There is an inability to get consistent care for chronic health conditions because of an inability to secure quality health insurance (before 2014).  

Housing is a game changer for people with long term health issues.  If you have a solid bed to go back to and get a good night sleep it will change your life.  Housing takes a great deal of stress and pressure off a person.  Housing allows a person to take their medication on a consistent schedule without their pills being stolen.  You can take care of personal hygiene in housing that is difficult while living in a shelter, and you can make meetings with health care professionals.   Those in housing have regular sleep and can take care of their dietary needs.  Housing is critical to have effective health outcomes.  We know that those who spend a period of time living on the streets do reduce their lifespan.  It is obvious that Housing is a Health care issue. 

Brian Davis

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Behind the Yellow Door Profile

A couple of weeks ago there was an impressive series on the impact of severe mental illness on a family.  Lora wrote up a nice summary of the article and we link to it here.  It dedicates a lot of Washington Post ink to a detailed look at a well adjusted husband's decent into madness. 

A man lives alone behind a yellow door in suburban Maryland. He shuns his wife, refers to his sons as ‘’suns’, ignores phone calls from his father, shuts all the blinds, and never accepts visitors inside. Certainly, one would expect an intervention from the family, friends, neighbors, etc. who have been reaching out to him, but nothing happens. The man has stayed behind the yellow door for two years now and shows no signs of coming out.

Despite his alarming behavior, the man behind the yellow door is relatively healthy and clean. He still tends to the lawn and keeps house. Despite the fact that he shows symptoms of schizoaffective disorder, he cannot be declared dangerous. As a result, he cannot be involuntarily confined to a hospital. He is not desperate or dangerous enough to meet the high standards for involuntary commitment to a mental hospital, and as a result, his family and friends are forced to simply stand by as his erratic behavior worsens. And worsen is exactly what they hope will happen. A psychiatrist recommends that his parents cut him off financially so that he will be forced into desperation, his sister hopes he becomes homeless, and his wife even admits that she hopes he will attempt suicide and fail. In a twisted way, they are only hoping for the best … because unless this man worsens, he may never get better.

Half a century ago, there existed a state of constant fear of psychological diagnoses and mental treatment. Rebellious children, loud-mannered women, immigrants, homeless people, and the like faced incarceration in a psychiatric ward where they were subject to ‘treatments’ of various inhumane natures. Then, a 1975 Supreme Court case changed the system. The ruling established a higher threshold for involuntary commitment to mental institutions and effectively safeguarded the sane from involuntary imprisonment. Now, forty years later, the tables have turned, and instead of worrying about wrongful confinement, people are finding it harder and harder to get into these hospitals in order to seek medical treatment.

That is to say, untreated mentally ill persons are left unaided, homeless, or, in the worst case scenario, left to deteriorate until they reach a breaking point. Today, we hear about large-scale acts of violence in which the perpetrator was reported to have shown signs of mental illness and in which family and friends failed to effectively seek treatment for the shooter. The signs of mental illness were all there, but due to subtle wording of federal legislation, treatment was kept out of reach and violence followed. We no longer fear the witch hunt atmosphere fueled by 20th century psychiatric standards, but instead, we fear for the people who desperately need treatment will be ignored when they could have been helped. We fear the violent psychological breakdowns and imminent suffering that could have been prevented.

Advocates are pressing for a bill to change Maryland involuntary commitment law. They wish to alter the wording of the law so that, to be eligible for involuntary commitment, a person does not have to ‘present’ a danger to himself or others but is only ‘reasonably expected, if not hospitalized, to present’ a danger. [Ohio has stepped forward to pass changes in the involuntary commitment--we will post the changes in a future post.]  Some oppose these changes, arguing that the new language would enable a roundup of the homeless, economically unstable, and the like. We would return to the ‘darker days’ of hospitalization. Would it be worth the risk? Is hospitalization the solution?

As the debate for these legal changes continues, the man behind the yellow door completely cuts off contact with his family. After two years of being a recluse, he leaves the house and is now somewhere on his own. His family loves him and would do anything to help, and for better or for worse, they let him go.

by Lora Zuo

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Homeless People Need Supplies in the Summer

It is not just the winter that homeless people need help with donated items.   We have a new outreach consultant, Tyrone, who is out on the street everyday building trusting relationships, but we do not have hygiene kits, blankets or other items to distribute.  We see a big decline in donations during the summer.  There are not the religious groups, schools in sessions, or general public members who think about homelessness in the summer.  In actuality there are more people outside in need of help in July then there are in January when we are flooded with donations.  What do we need in the summer?

  • Tents
  • Bottled water (gallons are good as well)
  • Bus Tickets
  • Hygiene kits (trial size soap, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, brush, comb, deodorant, plus other personal care items in a bag)
  • Bug spray and sunscreen
  • Back packs or gym bags
  • Rain ponchos

We are open from 9 to 4:30 every day to drop stuff off over near Cleveland State University.  Many Saturdays we are open (call ahead 432-0540).   We can distribute the items to people living outside or in places that are not appropriate for humans, but we need your help collecting the items.  We hope that you can help.

Brian Davis

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NEOCH Comments on Open Internet Rules for FCC

There were nearly 1.2 million submissions to the FCC regarding net neutrality including NEOCH.   We felt it was important to comment on this issue on behalf of homeless people in Cleveland.  The proposed rules would create a fast lane for the Internet in which cable companies could charge certain web content providers more money to access these fast lanes.  The NEOCH website provides content including videos and access to our Street Card information card (being the most popular).  Most of our clients are accessing the internet with outdated equipment in computer labs and libraries.  We believe that our agency would be harmed because we could not afford to put our content on the fast lane, and our clients would be harmed because critical information would be delivered to them in the slower lanes. 

Nearly every job application, housing application and health care access is increasingly being done through electronic means. The last time the housing choice voucher program was opened it was done by web only applications and only for one week.  Access to legislators, bureaucrats and government is largely done by e-mail or by submitting information through a public website.  Unemployment compensation and the food stamp program are almost exclusively done online.  The life of a homeless person and their ability to find stability involves sending and receiving information electronically in an open and in the fastest means possible.  

NEOCH also is a partner in the website which features 32,000 apartments including pictures, maps and extensive details on each building.  We would not be able to pay for faster access to our constituents looking for housing through this website.  The 150,000 unique users per year would face a slower and more frustrating experience when searching for housing. 

NEOCH is concerned that...Internet Service Providers would be able to charge content providers extra for preferential treatment and faster access.  Nonprofits simply cannot compete with for-profit websites if paid priority is implemented. 

We believe that the Internet should be treated as a public utility that provides essential services in our community.  Because of the access to medical care, housing and income is largely done by accessing the Internet, any regulation of the Internet must foremost be in the public interest. 

This is a summary of the comments that we submitted on behalf of homeless people in Cleveland, Ohio.  Gino Scarselli, our interim executive director, put a great deal of work in putting together our comments.  We hope that the Commissioners will keep the Internet open to charitable organizations and religious groups in practice.  We will continue to track this issue.  For a complete look at our submission click on the link below

NEOCH Comments on Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry. 

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