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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
Tuesday
Mar152016

Why Your Ballot May Not Count

When a voter goes to the polls to vote and there are questions about their eligibility, like their name doesn’t exactly match what’s on their registration, or there is a problem with their ID or their name does not appear on the registration list, or they have moved and not updated their address on file at the Board of Elections, that person has the right to cast a provisional ballot after which their eligibility is determined by the County staff.  Provisional ballots will be included in the final results of the election if the local election board determines that the individual was eligible to vote and they voted in the proper precinct.  If the board of elections determines that individual was not entitled to vote, the provisional ballot is rejected and does not count in the final election results. 

We at NEOCH believe every individual, homeless or not should be encouraged to register and then get out and vote.  Over the years we have fought for that very right and to make the process as easy and seamless as possible.   Since the founding of the Coalition voting has been critical to our mission.  In fact, we worked with the County to making voter registration a part of the intake process that shelters are measured on. 

To be eligible to vote in an election you should be a citizen of the US who is above 18 years of age and not currently incarcerated on a felony.  In 2014, the law was changed adding additional items to both the provisional and absentee ballots.  They also mandated that ballots be tossed for minor errors.  Making a typo on your form or leaving off one piece of information even if there is enough information to determine who you are results in your ballot being tossed.  If you are an elderly person or have literacy issues or have a hard time with a confusing form, should not be a reason to have your vote rejected.  On the provisional ballot form there is a heading to the left of the page that says Former address, but on the right side of the form across from it, it says, "Have you moved without updating your voter registration?"  If you mark yes, below it says street address:  You would have to look back to the left, separated by a thick black line on the form to see it was the former address that they were looking for.  Many elderly people did not get it.  They put their current address in the box and left their actual address box empty and their ballot was disregarded.  These people had a signature and name to compare; they had a date of birth; they had the last 4 digits of their social security number or their driver’s license number BUT their current address was in the wrong place and their vote was discarded.

Many provisional ballots are being thrown out by our local Board of Elections. We have looked at these ballots and some of the reasons are below.  The following is a list of reasons we have found that provisional ballots have been rejected and the person’s vote was not counted.  Some of the ballots did not have an actual reason and the below reasons are what we could figure out:

  • A person had last 4 digits of their social and last 4 digits of their driver’s license.  The instructions said: For ID – last 4 digits of your social or Ohio Driver’s license number.  Person put last 4 of social and ONLY last 4 of Ohio Driver’s License.  It was not accepted.
  • A person made a mistake on the first digit of the last four digits of social and clearly wrote the correct number over top of it.  It was bold and dark, it was obvious it was the correct number but it was thrown out.
  • Another person put the 4 numbers of their address in the wrong boxes and went back and corrected over top.  There was a SS#, date of birth and a signature to verify, and their vote was still thrown out.
  • A person put their SS in the OH DL box and put an arrow pointing down to the SS# boxes where it should have been and it was thrown out.  It was clear what they meant.
  • A person left their printed name off of the line that said NAME: __________________and the rest of the form was fine.  She signed her name and the signature was very legible, but they did not count the vote because the name was not printed in the appropriate box. The written signature was very clear as to the person’s name.  There was no doubt!
  • A person went to the wrong polling location and the poll worker did not provide help to the voter and gave the man a provisional ballot to vote at the wrong precinct and then his ballot was rejected.
  • A person had a good signature, date of birth, last 4 digits of social security, street address and driver’s license number but left off their city – Cleveland and State – Ohio, their address consisted of the numbers of the address and street name, so their ballot was thrown out.  The rest of the address was on this person’s registration.
  • A person’s vote was thrown out by a typo on their zip code.  A zip code was put on the eligibility form as 44109 when it was actually 44119. All other parts of the address were correct, the DOB matched, the driver’s license was present, the last 4 of the social were present and the person showed their ID to the election official but the typo on the zip seems to be the reason her vote was thrown out.
  • Another person born in the 1930’s printed their zip 1 digit off and made a mistake on their last 4 of their social security number and corrected the social by writing darker over top of the incorrect numeral.  Even though there was a date of birth, signature to match and the last 4 of their ss#, their vote was thrown out.
  • There was a woman accidently put her city in the box for her last name.  Her signature was clear; all the other information was correct and the information was printed on the absentee ballot correctly. 
  • There were individuals in jail on misdemeanor charges (so they were eligible to vote), and could not figure out if the jail address should be listed on the current address box or could not remember the address that they had used for their registration. They were a couple of digits off, but had no way to open their wallet to check their address from a jail cell. 

Many provisional ballots were thrown out with Dates of Birth, Driver’s License numbers, last 4 digits of SS# and addresses on the form.  It seemed like there was plenty of information to verify the person’s identity.  Many of the votes that were thrown out were elderly people, 60 -80+ years old who took the time to go to the polls and vote or took the time to mail in their ballot.  There has to be a better way to make sure that people who take the time to go to the polls or send in their ballot by mail have their vote counted!

by Denise Toth

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Saturday
Mar122016

End Homelessness Rally in July in Cleveland

Mark your calendar for the End Poverty Now March.  With the sucker punches and violence at Donald Trump rallies over these last few weeks and the candidate egging on the crowd, inciting or even encouraging violence, I am worried for the Cleveland RNC convention.   Will these supporters of the presumptive nominee, confront the thousands of protesters expected in Cleveland with attacks?   Will they take their anger out on the most visible sign of the problems facing America with the fragile and vulnerable  homeless people who sleep outside?   Getting worried about July in Cleveland and a tsunami of hate headed our way.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Friday
Mar112016

Primary is Tuesday in Ohio

Whatever you do be careful with that envelope that your ballot goes in for early voting.  They are being sticklers and discarding good ballots for minor errors.  Be very, very careful.  You also might want to avoid commercial tv this weekend because it is wall to wall political ads.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Wednesday
Mar022016

City of Cleveland Public Meeting on Community Development Funding

The Department of Community Development will hold two Citizen Participation meetings this month to explain how it will spend approximately $25,747,000 in federal funds  for the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG), Home Investment Partnerships Program (HOME), Emergency Solutions Grant Program (ESG) and the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS Program (HOPWA).

 

 

 

SUMMARY OF PROPOSED USE OF FUNDS

CDBG Program

AMOUNT

Homeowners Rehabilitation Assistance (includes an estimated $500,000 in program income)

$   1,726,566

Housing Trust Fund (includes an estimated $800,000 in program income)

$      800,000

Code Enforcement

$      419,000

Anti Predatory Lending

$        97,416

Demolition/Board Up (includes an estimated  $500,000 in program income)

$   1,500,000

Public Services: AIDS Prevention

$      309,393

Public Services: Third Party Not for Profit Organizations

$   1,260,128

Public Services: Homeless Assistance

$      623,454

Land Reutilization Activities

$   1,536,908

Community Gardening

$      126,057

Commercial Development: Storefront Renovation

$      452,241

CDC Operating Support Grants (administrative support)

$   1,135,739

Citywide Development Assistance Grants (administrative support)

$      246,221

Neighborhood Development Activities

$   7,600,000

Fair Housing

$        85,950

Administration (Direct and Indirect)

$   3,445,764

TOTAL CDBG  (Includes $1,800,000 estimated program income)

$ 21,364,837

HOME Program  (Housing Programs)

 

Homeowners Rehabilitation Assistance (includes an estimated $400,000 in program income)

$   700,900

Housing Trust Fund

$   2,165,852

CHDO Affordable Housing

$      612,000

HOME Program Administration

$      343,427

TOTAL HOME (includes an estimated $400,000 in program income)

$   3,822,179

ESG Program  Emergency Solutions Grant--rental assistance and shelters.

 

TOTAL ESG

$   1,808,259

HOPWA Program Programs for people with AIDS

 

TOTAL HOPWA  

$      952,331

TOTAL, Estimated HUD FUNDING (2016-2017)

$ 27,947,606

The Citizen Participation meetings will give residents an opportunity to ask questions and provide comments on the Department’s plans and funding priorities.    

Meeting Dates and Locations:

Thursday March 10, 2016

Trinity Commons at East 22nd and Euclid Ave. Meeting Room A-B (enter off Prospect).

10 to Noon

& Thursday March 24, 2016

Lutheran Hosptial Castele Learning Center 1730 West 25th St.

5:30-7:30 p.m.

NEOCH is a recipient of CDBG funding and the City of Cleveland supports the Coordination of outreach teams so that the health care groups are talking to the mental health groups and all the volunteers serving people who are resistant to shelter in Cleveland.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Wednesday
Mar022016

Solutions: How To Reduce Panhandling in Cleveland

For more information contact Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless www.neoch.org

In almost every survey of pedestrians and those who work downtown, one of the biggest concerns is panhandling. From small cities such as Bloomington Indiana to mega cities like Atlanta, eradicating panhandling is always on the top of the list for Mayors.  Often panhandlers are confused with homeless people, and while there may be some overlap they are separate and distinct populations. For hundreds of years, poor people, those with addictions and the mentally ill have begged for money on the streets of urban communities.  Cities have tried law enforcement, anti-panhandling publicity, and shaming the population, but nothing has worked.  We have not tried meeting with the panhandlers to find alternatives for these out of work sales people.  What would it take to convince people not to beg for money?  

NEOCH coordinates all the outreach teams in Cleveland, and we can respond to issues if there are people sleeping outside.  We respond to City Council and City officials who call regarding homeless people.  This is separate from panhandlers who many times are not in fact homeless.  Some stay in the shelter, but others pay for housing with their income and therefore the homeless groups have no contact with these individuals.  Most panhandlers do not have access to the wealth of resources available to homeless people because they rarely access shelter.  We work closely with Downtown Cleveland Alliance, and all the teams meet regularly to coordinate services.  We also have regular contact with Cleveland Police Department and can quickly respond to calls about people facing a housing crisis. 

NEOCH believes that Cleveland should take the lead ahead of the Republican Convention to fund a panhandler outreach staff to interact and interview panhandlers then work to engage them in alternatives to begging.  We could begin to develop solid information, and figure out the challenges we need to overcome to reintroduce these individuals into the workforce.  We would be interested in hiring someone to meet with the panhandlers and encourage them to find alternative employment, assist with disability, or address health care issues that are forcing these individuals to beg.  Those who refuse, we would ask to sign a code of conduct and wear a vest declaring that they will abide by the rules of downtown.  We would be responsive to local businesses and law enforcement to engage these individuals and work to dramatically reduce the level of panhandling locally.

We believe that we could market the “Cleveland model” for dealing with panhandling and sell this idea to neighborhoods such as Ohio City or Gordon Square or even other cities such as Baltimore or Detroit struggling with panhandling.  We believe that a social service response will be much more effective than a law enforcement strategy.  We believe that local business owners and pedestrians will view this as progress and a solution to a problem that is perceived as out of control in most cities. 

We also want to continue to fund alternatives to panhandling such as the Street Newspaper program or sponsor a competition among area employment non-profits to serve these hardest to serve individuals.   We believe that competition can foster innovation.  We also believe that talking to these people as tax payers who are currently struggling will get us further then the sticks we have tried in the past.  We can expand on all these ideas with a bottom line of reducing panhandling and implementing a “friendly” population working to find stability. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry