Find Help

Follow us on Twitter
Hope for the Homeless
Donate to NEOCH

About NEOCH

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.

The Cleveland Street Chronicle
Jim Schlecht Event
Wednesday
Jun282017

NEOCH No Longer Takes Complaints from Residents of the Big Shelters

The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless has struggled with what to do with grievances in Cleveland.    Here is a copy of the flyer to print out and distribute.  We discussed the reason behind this decision back in March and posted it here.  We also discussed these decisions with the residents of the shelter at the March Homeless Congress Meeting here. It was a painful decision and we have had a women desperately calling us for a week to ask for help.  She was pleading and begging me to try it one more time.  We found it only harmed homeless people and was not helpful to improving the shelters.  Until there is a legitimate third party complaint process with some teeth, NEOCH has no hope of helping these residents to equitably resolve their grievances.  We suggest calling or e-mailing your County Councilmember or the City Council member for the two largest shelters.  They probably will not be able to help, but at least they answer their phone.  Every other place that we could thing of does not even answer their phone so it is not worth using cell phone minutes.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Tuesday
Jun272017

New Request for Proposal Out for Women's Shelter

The new Request for Proposal to administer the Community Women's Shelter was published yesterday and is due July 28, 2017.  We know that West Side Catholic is not going to pursue the grant this time.  Obviously, based on the poor treatment that they received last time, who would want to go through that again?  NEOCH hopes that some other provider will come forward to challenge the current homeless service provider at least to improve the service.  This is the only shelter left in Cuyahoga County for single women so it is a critical service.  The County and taxpayers benefits when groups compete for contracts. 

There are some improvements over the last request, but there are still some troubling things in the submission.  The new RFP is more focused on effective emergency shelter operations, but there is still the requirement to use Frontline Services (the new owner of Cleveland Mediation Center) to resolve grievances. What agency would have some other homeless service provider resolve their grievances for them?  There is no plan for providing an off-site overflow if all the beds get filled.  There is no requirement to show that staff are well trained in non-violence and de-escalation or to even know the social service system. 

Two controversial items from the last round of funding were removed.  One said that you had to operate a shelter of at least 125 per night in the past and you had to operate a safe facility in the past.  The 125 bed requirement limited the number of agencies to five in Cuyahoga County who could possibly apply.  The operating a safe facility in the old RFP was criticized by advocates who showed that the police were called hundreds of times to both entry shelters in Cleveland.  Loh who regularly complains to County Council was regularly criticizing the County for giving a contract to an unsafe facility especially since she was repeatedly assaulted inside the shelter. There is nothing in the RFP to require that the shelter provider reduce the number of EMS/Police calls to the shelter. 

This one provides 10 points to Project Budget and Narrative, but then requires the vendor to negotiate a contract with the County.  They could bid low to get the 10 points and then negotiate a higher contract price once the County staff add items to the contract as additional expenses.  Wasn't that the plot of the movie War Dogs?  A provider gets no points for negotiating partnership agreements with other groups in the community, which seems strange.  This time no dollar amounts were disclosed while the last contract had dollar amounts attached to the request, which is also strange. 

You can find all the Requests for Proposals on the Cuyahoga County Website for more details or go to the pre-proposal conference on July 6, 2017 at 1 p.m. at 1641 Payne Ave conference room.  Here is a copy of the RFP.

Brian Davis

Post Script: The deadline was extended for this project until August 18 announced on July 24, 2017.  It was announced last week that neither Frontline Services nor Lutheran Metro Ministry would be pursuing this grant as the main social service provider for this program. 

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Tuesday
Jun272017

Updated Veteran's Street Card Published

Be on the Look Out! – Updated Vet Street Card

Ever wonder what services are available to homeless veterans?  Do you know a veteran who is facing homelessness?  There is help!  The new Veteran’s Edition of the Street Card is a publication of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and is updated every year.  This one page card has been published on the website and can be found here:  http://www.neoch.org/street-card/

The new edition lists every agency which helps veterans in the Greater Cleveland and surrounding areas. It’s a valuable document for those experiencing homelessness.  You are welcome to print copies and hand them out to veterans that you know.  It features the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans which has a toll free number, and the ability to use Live 24/7 chat to connect with them.

The new Veterans Street card is front and back and lists agencies in the Downtown, South, West and East sides of town.  It provides bus routes and important telephone numbers for veterans.  Every agency that a homeless veteran will need access to can be found on this card including finding Shelter and receiving benefits.  This is a great tool for Outreach Workers to use when they are out serving the homeless population.   All of the programs listed help veterans directly without a referral.  NEOCH is currently working to update the standard Street Card as well as the Family Street Card.  All of the Street Cards are available on the NEOCH website.  

by Denise Moore

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

 

Sunday
Jun252017

Goodbye to Brian Davis Event

The NEOCH Board celebrated 23 years of service to homeless people in Cleveland with a gathering to wish their long time director, Brian Davis, a goodbye.  The Breen Center at St. Ignatius was the site of the goodbye event on June 23.  Kathy Rothenberg James of the City of Cleveland Department of Public Health and a NEOCH Board member presented a resolution from the City of Cleveland. Kathy and Roy Love, Board President gave Brian an award from the full Board to recognize his work in navigating the organization through rough times and gave Brian’s wife and two daughters flowers.

Elegant Differences catered the event and the co-proprietor as well as Homeless Grapevine founder, Angelo Anderson spoke at the event.  Jim Schlect also talked about his work with NEOCH and the compassion exercised by Brian.  Toni Johnson who has worked at every aspect of homelessness spoke about all of the times she called the office looking for information from Brian.   There was a banner that people could sign to say thank you to the former Executive Director of NEOCH.  Roy Love was the Master of Ceremony and provided some history of the organization under Brian Davis.

Nicole Evans of Catholic Charities (pictured here) spoke about all the joint projects that she has worked on with NEOCH and Brian.  Buzzy, one of the Street Chronicle vendors spoke about the NEOCH picnics and how he appreciated meeting Brian's family.  He felt that Brian was not all talk.  Sabrina Otis spoke at the event about finding NEOCH and Brian after struggling to get along in the family shelters in Cleveland.  She complained to Commissioner Jane Campbell who was running for Mayor at the time, and Brian helped her.

Brian's family all attended the gathering and Rosamond Davis, Brian's mom, spoke about how proud she was of her son.  Staff member, Ramona, talked about her meeting Brian while she was trying to survive in the Women's Shelter.  There were around 100 people who attended the gathering.  Many old friends attended the goodbye event after retiring from their jobs including Bill Resseger from the City of Cleveland and Spencer Wells.  Spencer was the director of the Cleveland Tenants Organization who was the first to hire Brian when CTO was overseeing NEOCH's operations.  One special guest was Anita Cook the retiring executive director of West Side Catholic who fell and broke her arm in the last week.  She was only released from the hospital after surgery on the day of the party, but claimed she had to make the gathering. 

Board members Larry Davis and Kathy Loseto both spoke about their work with Brian.  Larry worked as a tenant leader, an AmeriCorps member and finally a Mature Service member.  Kathy recently joined the Board and commented about how serious and focused Brian was on helping to end homelessness.  A friend from Detroit, Clark Campbell tried to turn the event into a roast for Brian in discussing Clark's attempt to convince Brian to join him living on the streets.  Campbell was homeless living out of a bus in the late 1990s and was one of the plaintiffs who filed suit to save "Camelot," the old Ward Bakery facility in which he lived from the City's wrecking ball. 

New Director of Operations, Chris Knestrick was on hand and said a few words about his excitement for taking the helm of the organization.  He looked forward to reaching out to everyone in the room for help as he navigates the homeless social service system.  Two amazing things were that Loh, a friend of NEOCH, attended the event, but did not speak.  She is a fixture at the County Council meetings and takes every opportunity to speak.  The other was that the Cleveland Police had a representative attend to say goodbye to Brian.  NEOCH sued the City in the 1990s three times over police unfairly arresting and ticketing homeless people and had an often contentious relationship with the Police.  NEOCH now regularly meets with the Cleveland Police in an attempt to respond to homeless people living outside with social services instead of law enforcement.

We posted more pictures on the front of the NEOCH website with a slide show here.  We also posted other photos from the event on the ClevelandHomeless Facebook page. 

This post reflects the opinion of the NEOCH Board.

Wednesday
Jun212017

County Attempts to Reduce Number of Single Adults Using Shelter

We have documented the attempt to reduce the number of people who reside in the County shelters with a committee that the County created.  They had proposed an awful recommendation in March that we editorialized would add to the number of people sleeping outside. After Paul Sherlock and Jim Schlecht passionately decried the potential rules would harm homeless people, the rules were tabled for further study. 

The County committee met and our friend, Loh, attended and gave us a summary of the results. These are potential rules for the shelters.  This has to be voted on by the "Homeless Discussion Group" known as the Office of Homeless Services Advisory.   There are problems, but this is a huge victory for the advocates.  Cleveland will not shrink from its commitment to provide shelter to everyone in need. 

Recommendation from the Single Adults Committee Meeting

June 15, 2017

Exit Plan required of all shelter residents:

  • Within 1 week of arrival (at least a start)
  • Needs to include: income, safety, client choice
  • To be documented
  • 45 days

Review of Rights & Expectations

  • Within 24 hrs
  • To include Exit Plan, Follow-up expectations
  • To be documented

Exit Plan Follow-up by Shelter Staff

  • Frequency depending upon level of need
  • To be documented

 Resident Expectation:

  • Actively engage in Housing Plan

Staff Expectation:

  • Communicate with Outreach Partners
  • Continued effort with those who have yet to be successfully engaged
  • To Be documented

If shelter residents have not moved out of shelter after 3 appropriate housing offers the following would take place:

  • Cleveland Mediation Center (Editor's Note: which is now a program of the largest homeless service provider Frontline Services) will host a mediation between the resident and shelter staff
  • If the resident continued to reside at the shelter after the 3 housing offers and the mediation agreement, the resident’s shelter services would be curtailed to basic shelter accommodation.
  • Residents could appeal the shelter service limitation using the shelter grievance policy.

This is a victory for advocacy that no one will be kicked out to the streets and we have to thank Jim Schlecht and Paul Sherlock for the advocacy.  The reality is that the Women's shelter is only a basic shelter accommodations so there is really nothing to take away from the 200 women staying on Payne Ave at night.  There are couple of things to consider with this committee:

  1. There are such a small number of people who fall under this policy is it really worth all these meetings?  Very few people in our community turn down housing, and it will not free up much space.  There are so many waiting for every bed left in our community that this small population is hardly the problem. 
  2. There is nothing in these rules that puts pressure on the agencies to be better at managing the multiple barriers to housing for their clients.  Women with a mental illness, huge debt issues, and previous evictions are hard to house.  Guys with a sexually based offense or an arson conviction are extremely hard to house, but the agencies are not stressed to work with individuals on their individual needs in the same way the residents are pressured to get out of the shelter. 
  3. Case managers force people to bend to a small number of programs available in our community instead of trying to find the best path off the streets for those in need.  They do not set up hours that are conducive to the residents or make things clear to those seeking help.  No one takes the time to explain the homeless landscape and the services available to those struggling with housing. 
  4. None of these rules address all the barriers that we have created in our society.  The lack of acceptance that people make mistakes and need to be given a second chance or the unreasonable expectations built into our economy are not one of the bullet points.  The inability to prepare people to live independently or be able to afford to pay rent are not looked at by these committees.  The racism and discrimination that are on the rise in our society are never factored into these plans.  The shredded safety net and frustration in dealing with the health care industry are not discussed in any of these documents. 
  5. If you were the director of a shelter, would you want another shelter's program mediate for you?  Would one small landlord want another giant landlord conglomerate to come in and mediate between the small landlord and their tenant?
  6. The entire grievance process is broken in the shelters and so this needs to be corrected.
  7. Also, the reality is that most people don't ever want to sleep in a shelter.  They have no privacy and are extremely overcrowded with bunk beds everywhere.  When they get to be like the Renaissance Hotel in Downtown Cleveland then we can talk about people overstaying their welcome. 

If the committee wants to address the rise in Single Adult homeless people there are so many other areas they could focus instead they are focused on the small number of people who have given up.  We cannot expect as a society to have neglected affordable housing for 25 years and not see a sharp increase in homelessness.  We heard about a used car lot on the East Side of Cleveland that keeps its cars open at night so that people do not break the windows and every morning they have to wake up homeless people and ask them to exit the cars.  The lack of shelter beds, the lack of trained staff who can help people, and the many barriers that society puts in people's way would be a good place to start the discussion of why there are so many single adults asking for help.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry