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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
Nov202014

Articles in the News Around Homelessness

WEWS-TV 5 had a nice story on family homelessness and the overflow problems in Cleveland. We have had seven months of overflow shelter for families.  What month do we say this is no longer an overflow problem, but a lack of family bed problem.  We closed Continue Life earlier this year, and West Side Catholic reduced the number of transitional beds for family.  This is what happens when you cut back on beds available to families, you have to pay to transport and open up church basements for these emergencies.

The New York Times had a strange story about the feeding program.  I understand presenting a balanced story, but this is just strange.  The proponents of the law do not have any evidence or proof that feeding programs are "counterproductive."  It is one side saying that laws against feeding are morally bankrupt and lead to unnecessarily going to jail for purely innocent behavior while the other side is saying, "but we don't like to see poor people lining up to eat."

A positive story from Vox media about the decline in uninsured individuals in the Lesbian and Gay community.  Health insurance will also reduce homelessness in America when people aren't forced to decide between rent or medicine or food.  

The National Center on Family Homelessness has found that one in 30 children are homeless in America.  Since Ohio was right in the middle for the states around the national average, this would mean that 9,137 children were homeless in Cuyahoga County in 2013 and 88,323 were homeless in Ohio during the same time.   NCFH uses the Department of Education definition of homelessness which includes those sleeping in garages and friend's basements while they search for housing.  

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Tuesday
Nov182014

Jim Skerl at St. Ignatius Constructed a Program to Befriend the Forgotten

As we start the winter season when our focus switches to keeping people warm, we remember the founder of the Labre Project locally, Jim Skerl.  The Plain Dealer did a nice job in remembering this amazing teacher from St. Ignatius High School with a series of articles including a nice piece by Terry Pluto

West Side Catholic, which is right across the street from St. Ignatius, expressed their grief over the loss of Skerl:

Words cannot adequately express the community’s sadness over the loss of Jim Skerl , teacher at St. Ignatius.  Mr. Skerl impacted so many in the community through his work with L’Arche and as the founder of the Saint Benedict Joseph Labre Ministry to the Homeless and the St. Joseph of Arimathea Pallbearers Society.  His legacy lives on in the lives of those he touched – including mine.

We have to remember the revolutionary nature of the Labre Project.  In a time of fear of everything and lawsuits, Jim was able to figure out a way for young energetic students to go outside to meet with those resistant to shelter where they live.  He convinced concerned parents of the value of the program first as a way to deliver food to the streets, but the program quickly evolved into a way to build friends with those living outside.  These young people first at Ignatius now at John Carroll and CWRU go out and deliver food, clothing and winter items to those often forgotten by society.  With this extending a helping hand, they listen and hear from the population.  The build a bond that extends after a person gets into housing.  They provide the most powerful weapon against homelessness in listening and treating people with respect.

These students know what is happening on the streets of Cleveland.  They know who is staying outside and they are often the first people homeless people meet when they move out of their housing.  They can often link them to "professional" outreach workers at the agencies.   These students are talking to these guys and treating them with compassion no matter their mistakes or human faults.  The Labre Project helps move people to get off the streets.   It keeps people safe while they are living without housing. Finally, it gives the students a lifelong desire to incorporate community service into their daily life.  They graduate realizing that their volunteer efforts helped the community and they want to do more. 

We will miss this quiet revolutionary from the near West Side of Cleveland.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Tuesday
Nov182014

Equality Issues within the Homeless Community

Kansas City privately funded shelter discriminates against same sex couples.  This is unfortunate and every shelter in the United States is going to have to figure out a solution to these issues. 

We congratulate the City of Cleveland for clarifying the law and housing discrimination statutes to include gender identity issues.  We still need a state law to protect all tenants because only half of the rental housing in our community is within the Cleveland border.  Here is the information on the employment and housing equality bill that passed Council last night from an EqualityOhio press release

We have excellent news to share. Last night, Cleveland City Council unanimously passed Ordinance 1445-13, adding "gender identity or expression" to several places where it was missing in Cleveland's nondiscrimination code. 

Thank you for showing your support at both the Finance Committee meeting Monday afternoon and last night in Council Chambers! We stood together in support of increased protections for our transgender community.

Our future success depends on our willingness to continue to stand together. Ordinance 1446-13 would remove discriminatory language allowing business proprietors to dictate which restrooms are appropriate for transgender people. However, it has not yet been scheduled for a vote. We are committed to getting Cleveland City Council to vote yes. 

We'll continue important public dialogue on transgender public accommodations. Look for more information in the coming days about other actions you can take to ensure the entire LGBT community is protected by Cleveland's code.

Together, let's celebrate the passage of Ordinance 1445-13 and commit to passing 1446-13 as soon as possible. 

Cleveland does a pretty good job in serving transgender individuals seeking shelter.  They respect the HUD policy of serving people in the gender specific shelter in which they present.  This only came about since 2012 when HUD clarified the rules.  We also can provide private facilities if the individual faces discrimination or harassment in the shelter.  This is one of the benefits of having a coordinated intake site locally.  There are individual problems, but we are light years in front of other communities. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Sunday
Nov162014

NOBLE Budget Meeting Well Attended

Every two years advocates get together in Cleveland to strategise about the upcoming budget for the State of Ohio.  The group has largely failed over the last two budget cycles, but they do eek out a few victories.  On a cold snow filled Saturday at the NEOCH/Community Shares offices, advocates met to discuss areas that they felt were important.   There was a good crowd who gave up their Saturday afternoon to plow through the details of the Ohio budget.

They gave a status report for the their successes/failures over the last budget.  The only successes were that the Ohio Housing Trust Fund was not cut and there was a state earned income tax credit was created. The Homestead exemptions was targeted to those over 65 making less than $30,000.  Medicaid was expanded, but over the objections of the legislature. Every other recommendation failed with one incompletion.  Some of the fails from the previous year:

  • Education funding is still below 2010 levels.
  • Childcare still has a cap on family income below federal guidelines.
  • Recommended changes in Kinship care were not addressed.
  • Adult Protective Services to protect seniors is still woefully underfunded.
  • Alzheimer's respite care is half of the level from 2011.
  • They did not expand Medicaid to all of those eligible and reimbursable by the federal government.
  • No relief for those receiving cash assistance to provide flexibility over massive elimination of benefits.
  • Sought additional money for hunger programs.  They received some additional funding, but not enough to meet demands.
  • No additional funding for transportation.
  • Huge losses to local government funding for trash collection, fire, safety forces and other local government services.

Some of the big issues that those gathered are looking for in the next budget for 2015 include:

  • Re-establishment of the tax on rich people who die called the estate tax.
  • Re-establishment of the local government fund to the levels from 2010.
  • Expansion of a housing search website in the state of Ohio
  • A complete overhaul of the tax loopholes in the state of Ohio.
  • A lifting of the cap off the Earned Income Tax Credit.  If you are poor and don't pay enough in taxes, you should still get all the tax credit back. 
  • Re-establishment of a foreclosure assistance fund since those federal dollars are drying up.
  • A reduction in the welfare case loads.
  • An elimination of the work requirements for Food stamps throughout the state and not just the nine rural communities. 
  • Maintain and expand Medicaid expansion.
  • Align the state cash assistance rules with the federal requirements.  With higher than average unemployment in Ohio, we should provide assistance to families struggling in Ohio.
  • Restore funding to the PASSPORT and the hunger programs in Ohio. 
  • Force ODOT to spend 3-5% of their budget on public transportation to serve the 9% of the public without driver's licenses.

The progressives, advocates and concerned citizens will probably not be heard down in Columbus, but it is good to have a positive agenda put forth to help low income, homeless and struggling Ohioans. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Friday
Nov142014

News on Homelessness in America

Mother Jones has a nice take on the Food Ban in Ft. Lauderdale here.

More arrests in support of the anti-feeding ban in Ft. Lauderdale. This article includes the Orwellian response from the City indicating that this law helps homeless and hungry people?

More arrests and tickets after a demonstration in front of the Mayor's House.  An individual can give out food, but a religious group cannot give out food outside.

We detailed a lack of beds for Domestic Violence beds in Cleveland, and the New York Times looks at the  problem in one of America's largest cities

Alabama looks at homeless children in the Huntsville School District.  These are frequent features in high poverty areas, but elected officials in the deep South rarely take on solutions to these issues.

NEOCH recently hired a female veteran who has struggled with homelessness. There is a national story about the rise in female veterans facing homelessness in the United States.

The Veterans Administration is on a one year deadline to end homelessness among vets.  They are really going to have to bring every partner together to reach the hardest to serve individuals who have been exiled from the system for years if this goal will be real.

We have no idea where Manteca California is located, but they are banning people living outside.  This would be great if they guaranteed safe decent housing inside, but that never happens. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinon of those who sign the entry