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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
Thursday
Mar312016

Tuesday Night Meal Returns!!

I received a note from the Rescuing the Perishing group that they have a home again.  If you remember they were asked to move in December from behind Frontline Services main building on Payne Ave. out of an overly litigious concern by the agency.  (Lawyers ruin everything).  The City of Cleveland searched for a temporary location and found a lot next to the Women's Shelter for a couple of months.  This week Safety Director McGrath informed the group that they could use the old Third District headquarters at East 19th and Payne to feed people.  This is great news and a huge service to the population.  It provides a good meal to homeless people especially women and does not interfere with other business in the community.  There is not the access to restroom and running water like their was at Frontline, but it is better than one of the dark and abandoned parking lots in the area. 

Here is the note from Sue at Rescuing the Perishing:

We have a forever spot!  Safety Director Mike McGrath called my husband Jack last Tuesday and told us we can use the old Third District parking lot at E 19th and Payne Ave to feed our people on Tuesdays from 7:00-8:00.  What a relief! We were there last night and served 86 people. Not bad for a first time effort!  Thanks for your help!

Sue at Rescuing the Perishing

Brian Davis

Posts Reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

 

Tuesday
Mar292016

This is Why We Sued the State Over Voting 

There are two article in the Columbus Dispatch and Cleveland Plain Dealer here about the voting issues in Ohio.  Why is the Homeless Coalition involved in this lawsuit?

We feel this is a continuation of our lawsuit from 2006 in which there was a settlement in 2010.  We had an agreement with the state that legitimate provisional ballots would be counted.  This new law undermines that issue.  As the Columbus area Board of Elections official admitted legitimate ballots were discarded.

“It was not any fault of our people,” Anthony said. “They were backed into a corner. They could not approve them. And I think that’s a shame. … I just think the law needs to change.” William Anthony of the Franklin County Board of Elections (Columbus Dispatch article).

The Cuyahoga County officials in depositions said that they try not to discard ballots.  Upon closer examination there were many legitimate ballots thrown away and the defense was that the voters have to "take responsibility" for completing the ballot correctly.  We looked through every discarded ballot in Cuyahoga County and it was amazing seeing these voters trying to navigate the paperwork and failing.  There were many elderly who had an issue understanding the form or who made simple errors.  There were guys in jail who did not understand that a jail cannot be used as a residence.  There were people who made simple errors but it was clear that you could determine their identity.  They made a clerical error and their ballot was tossed.  Board of Elections staff who made errors faced no such punishment, and the response was just "Oh, Well..."

The State has said that the single biggest reason for discarding ballots is those who are not registered so these others thrown out are not that big of a deal?  This is a horrible argument. There were elderly women in nursing homes who tried to participate in the voting process as they had done for 40 years and had their ballot tossed in many of the urban centers of Ohio.  The State does not consider this a big issue.  There were those with a fourth grade reading level who had trouble with the envelope for vote by mail or early voting and had their ballot dropped in the trash.  The State seems to feel that this is not a big issue.  Just because only one half of one percent of the encounters between white police officers and African Americans goes badly does not mean that it is not a problem. 

The other argument that the State made was that this was actually an improvement in the law because when a voter uses the new Provisional ballot forms it can change their registration so that in the future they will have updated their address with the Board.  This is also silly since in 2012 and before there were always blank registration cards available to change a person's address at the precincts or at the Board of Elections for early voting.  This was a solution looking for a problem to solve.  The state is saying that we had to disenfranchise thousands of voters in order to help a few with a problem that never existed.  

This is a literary test and a barrier for the disabled to vote.  The state says that disabled and illiterate can admit to a stranger that they have this issue with reading or have a disability and need help.  It was also interesting that the rural communities (Meigs, Wyandot) were more forgiving compared to the urban centers (Cuyahoga, Franklin, Lorain and Summit Counties).  The more rural communities said things like "we knew who they are and could see that they just made an error so we counted their vote."  And by the way these were Republicans, while the Democrats in urban communities said, "That was the law, and sorry they lost their vote, but we were only following the law and directives from the State."   The results of the law are racist and depress low income voter turnout.  

I was surprised that the State was even willing to defend this law.  There was very little oversight and all 88 counties seem to have different interpretations of the law.  We saw some reject as few as 2% of votes questioned while others rejected nearly 24% of those subject to further review.   Who would defend throwing away legitimate ballots that everyone agreed we could determine their eligibility?  There was no fraud or conspiracy in the voting process.  There was no need for this law.  If there was no call for this legislation and no problem to solve, we are left with this has to be voter suppression of a certain group of voters.  What is the demographics of voters living in urban centers of Akron, Cleveland and Lorain, and who do these voters traditionally vote for?  Then you look at which party voted for these laws, and you see an answer for why these laws were passed. 

State Representative Kathleen Clyde did a wonderful job of documenting the reasons behind these changes in the law and how the majority party in Ohio ignored all the warnings that good government groups were giving in opposition to these changes.  She detailed how Democrats opposed these changes and warned that legitimate voters would be disenfranchised.  Former State Senator Nina Turner also testified about the impact of this law on the local community and the level of racism that existed in our communities during the 2012 election.  Thanks to both of these elected leaders for taking a stand against injustice especially when the issue is so fundamental to our democracy as our right to vote. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Tuesday
Mar292016

NEOCH Annual Meeting is Thursday

Peter Schindler standing next to Cavs Player Iman Shumpert

Michelle Russell receives an award from the Marcia Bufford (orange top) at a previous annual meetingNEOCH will have the opportunity to highlight some successes and accomplishments of the past year.  In so doing, we will recognize this year’s Most Valuable Partner, Peter Schindler, of the Community West Foundation for his talent, initiative, care, and support of homeless people.  We are forever indebted to Peter for his drive, advice, and his compassion for homeless people.  He has been particularly instrumental to the SocksPlus campaign and the Outreach Worker Training Program, two of this year’s highlights, and has facilitated NEOCH’s positive image in the media over the past year.  Here is the full press release.  There is still space to attend. Please call to reserve your spot.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Friday
Mar252016

SocksPlus Campaign Receives Huge Donation

Akram Boutros, CEO of MetroHealth Hospital wears colorful socks every day to work.  The employees decided that in lieu of a birthday gift or a facebook message they would donate Socks to a collection that would be then given to the SocksPlus campaign.   With the help of Dairy Mart, Alcoa employees, the MetroParks, and Geigers employees they collected 6,100 socks and delivered them in an ambulance to NEOCH this week.

 We had Cosgrove Center, St. Malachi, Metanoia, Care Alliance present to receive the donations.  All these socks will go to great use over the next few months.  There were some really nice wool socks that the CEO purchased himself to give to homeless people in Cleveland.  It was a nice event covered by Fox 8 and the Plain Dealer. 

 MetroHealth is going to do a collection for the fall to participate in the 2016-17 Socks Plus Campaign.  Thanks for all the help from everyone who donated.  It is a tremendous help to all of us.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Friday
Mar252016

March Homeless Congress Notes

Attendance was smaller than usual.  Upcoming events were first on the agenda. It was announced that Ruth Gillett, Office of Homeless Services, asked for some time to speak to the Congress going forward.  Council meetings, Committee meetings, NEOCH Annual meeting and the Ohio Primary dates and times were discussed.  NEOCH endorsed Issue 23, the Health and Human Services levy.

 Voting information was given and the Congress members were informed that if they vote early there is no ID required.  Attendees were asked if there was any announcements they would like to make. One member informed everyone about the memorial service for Melvin Nathan, which was on March 11th at 2:00pm.  He had moved into housing prior to passing away.  Also another member brought to everyone’s attention is the police department will be doing a survey or report on Crisis Information which they will be sharing with the men’s and women’s shelters. 

There was a complaint by a resident of the men’s shelter about not being able to stand in front of the building of 2100 Lakeside shelter.  The residents were told to go across the street or be arrested.  Brian Davis informed him that if he were to get arrested for loitering, to contact him and he will provide legal assistance and that the loitering laws are considered unconstitutional.  There must be a victim before there is a crime.  The Congress members asked if there was a way to get this solved without people getting arrested.  Davis agreed to put this in the notes for the resident council at 2100 Lakeside to get this question answered about smoking.

Some of the residents of the men’s shelter also made a request to invite Chief of Police, Calvin Williams, to a meeting to address overuse of the disorderly conduct and loitering laws and explain the complaint process for homeless people.

Ruth Gillett then shared information about the request for input from homeless people about solutions to homelessness.  A question came up about how the County could work on reducing the time people stay at the shelters.  Members discussed with her the problems in the system that prevents homeless people moving on.  One was, what if the staff does not assist them to get housing or access to needed resources?  Also it is very difficult to find housing and more difficult to secure it.  Another barrier is there are no housing vouchers available. 

Her response was that is the reason she would like to attend the meetings and get feedback on what is necessary or what problems are preventing residents from obtaining housing.  She also said she wants to keep the Congress informed about resource information especially housing vouchers.  It was suggested that the Congress advocate for affordable housing.

The final order of business was any problems at the women’s shelter as this has been an ongoing problem.  One of the residents from the women’s shelter said there are problems with the dryers (only one is working), the food is still terrible, and the rooms are too cold.  One resident said she got ill, went to the hospital, and was informed that she had pneumonia.  The basement has finally been renovated, but has not been re-opened yet.  Another resident said when she asked when it would be opened, she was told the next day (March 11th) or that following Monday.  Another problem was that the staff are not providing help to secure housing.  She said staff just gave her a list of housing, but no other information or assistance to secure it or any assistance to go to fill out an application like a buspass.

At the end of the meeting I informed the Congress about the Art Project of the CIA (Cleveland Institute of Art) artists are working on with some of the women at the shelter.  The current Project was a mock “Ground Breaking Ceremony” performance and “Ribbon Cutting” Performance that will be taped to practice for a time when a new shelter is opened.  In addition, they also have plans for a mural for the shelter and a statute to go in front of the shelter.  Everyone was then reminded when the next meeting will be held which is April 14th.

Ramona Turnbull

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