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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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Sunday
Jul202014

Los Angeles Really?

NPR did a story and interview with the Los Angeles Mayor accepting children fleeing violence in Central America.  This is something that we have to do as a society.  We must step up to help these children fleeing violence and exploitation, but Los Angeles seems like the last place to offer help.  This is a country of immigrants and just as we proclaim on the Statue of Liberty, we need to comfort the huddled masses yearning to break free.  We have an obligation to assist these citizens of countries we have destabilized and sent our gangsters and drug dealers back to their birth country to wreak havoc.  But Los Angeles? 

Los Angeles has an out of control homeless population with a section of the city called "Skid Row" with thousands of people living outside. LA has the highest concentration of homeless people on any square mile in America.   They operate the largest mental health facility in the Country that is known as their County Jail.  They do not have guaranteed access to shelter for their own citizens so they know nothing about serving homeless people.   Why Los Angeles?  Why not Denver or St. Paul or even Cleveland who are doing a way better job in serving homeless people? Even Iowa, Seattle or Charlotte would be better than the city with the largest homeless population in the United States. 

Los Angeles is also the city of origin for many of these gang leaders who were deported back to their country of birth.  These gang leaders long to get back to LA and they learned all their skills at running a criminal enterprise on the mean streets of LA.   The city of Los Angeles has too many people in need of help right now; they do not have the capacity to care for all the people in need currently in the city.  Any visitor to Los Angeles will come away with the impression that homelessness is out of control in America.  There have to be other places that have a deeply held religious beliefs that we all must help children in need.   The Mayor of LA gave a good spin about working on veteran's homelessness and then he said his city will focus on long term homelesss.  But when will he get around to helping homeless children living in his city, and then why bring in more homeless kids when they have no plan to serve their exisiting population? Here is what the Mayor told NPR:

The challenge is to end veterans' homelessness by the end of 2015. And next after that, I'll be looking at the chronic homeless population, which we've already made some dents in. I'm looking to the state and federal government, which have cut our housing dollars in recent years, to re-up those as well as for us to locally generate a consistent source of funding to build permanent, supportive housing that won't just get people off the street, but give them the services that they need to stay in those apartments and to stay permanently in housing and to get employed. So we're looking at this in a holistic way so we don't throw money at a problem and people wind up back on the street.

There are passionate caring people in Nebraska, Michigan and Maine who would be willing to help.  Don't send kids to a city that already has decades of bad public policy that has led to a crisis in affordable housing and homelessness. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Monday
Jul142014

Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services Effective?

Are we light years behind Europe in how we treat people with addiction? The Diane Rehm Show on Monday featured one hour on the changes in treating alcohol addiction services.  This comes after the release of the The Sober Truth: Debunking the Bad Science Behind 12-Step Programs and the Rehab Industry (co-written by Lance and Zachary Dodes).  All Things Considered did an interview with Dodes back in March 2014 available here.  

There is a huge split within the homeless community about this issue.  There are those Housing First folks who are winning the argument who admit people to housing even when they are not sober.  Then there are those who feel that a person must be sober to get housing.  They feel that if a sober person is "rewarded" with housing while not taking care of their addiction, they will just mess up and become homeless again.  They also worry that an out of control addiction will contaminate others who will fall off the wagon. 

The problem is that the current treatment method especially for those without health insurance is awful and fails more than it is successful.  Those with insurance can go to inpatient treatment where they are away from the drugs and alcohol that is everywhere around them.  Dodes' book shows that Alcoholics Anonymous is successful between 5 and 10%.  This is disgracefully low success rate that would not allow a prescription drug trial to go forward or behavioral health experiment move to the next trial with a success rate of 7%.   What else do we have for the low income addict living at 2100 Lakeside?   As the book Hooked by Lonny Shavelson from a 2001 details the treatment system is completely broken. 

If we have designed a completely failed system for treating alcohol and drug what other choice is there, but to put people into housing and work on their addiction?   The State of Ohio has suddenly come to the realization that we have a serious prescription painkiller and heroin problem because our kids are dying in large numbers.   So they announce this Public Service Campaign to get people help, and then when your child needs professional assistance, you find that there is a three week wait for treatment.  They tell you to go to meetings and try to maintain your sobriety while you wait for help.   This is an insane approach to the problem of addiction.  Imagine if there were no emergency room health care and instead they just told you to go watch a video about coughing up blood and work through your own problem while you wait three weeks for a medical bed or a doctor visit.  This is the system for behavioral health at this point.  It is no wonder the shelters are bypassing the Alcohol and Drug system by putting people right into housing and hoping that they can find help for the person if they have a room to return to every night. 

Diane Rehm also had a nice show this last Tuesday on income inequality. The guest was Nick Hanauer who is a proponent of increasing the minimum wage.  He has made millions and talked about giving workers more income to be able to be able to live without government support.   It was a good discussion.  Check it out.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Friday
Jul112014

Obligatory LeBron James Post

This is a Getty imageThere is nothing else those of us living in Cleveland are talking about right now except the return of LeBron James to Cleveland.  We welcome him back and forgive the betrayal.  We will leave behind the talk about turning his back on his hometown and the burning of the #23 jersey.  All is forgiven and we look forward to a long and successful career in Cleveland.   How does LeBron James relate to homelessness for the purpose of this blog?   I was thinking how many LeBron James's are there sleeping in our shelters in Cleveland?  How many talented individuals never met their Coach Frankie Walker type mentor and got him on the straight and narrow?

For those who don't know the James family struggled with poverty and homelessness throughout his childhood in Akron.  His biological Dad was never in the picture and LeBron missed many months of elementary school.  One father figure who dated his Mom was sent to jail on fraud and drug charges.  He was picked up by his pee wee football coach in the fourth grade after Coach Walker found he was missing most of his fourth grade.   Walker and Gloria James, LeBron's mother, agreed that little LeBron would go stay with the coach. 

Gloria could not afford her housing and nearly lost it, but Walker stepped in to help with the rent and LeBron went back to living at home.  LeBron got a quality education at a Catholic School in Akron that stabilized his high school education even though his family was moving frequently in bad neighborhoods in Akron.   Walker introduced James to basketball and encouraged him to go to St. Vincent St. Mary's high school while keeping up his grades. How many guys at the shelter did not have a Coach Walker?  How many women at Norma Herr did not have an inspirational art or math teacher that redirected their life? How many Jim Carroll's, Bill Clintons or Tupac Shakur's are we missing--all grew up in poverty and did great things.

Imagine the scientists and scholars that we are losing as a society because talented people are languishing in the shelters or in dead in jobs?  Our society would have so many more LeBrons if we could stabilize people's housing situation.  If there was a right to live in an affordable, safe, private place we could take huge weights off our population to focus on discoveries, starting businesses, and programming computers.  LeBron made it out of the underside of Akron, but 2100 Lakeside is full of talented athletes, artists or archeologists who never found their Coach Walker.  They turn to alcohol, drugs or get in trouble with the law before finding a stable life.  Poverty and homelessness is sucking our society of great minds. 

Go Cavs, and Go LeBron!

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Monday
Jul072014

Columbus Street Newspaper Video

The Columbus Coalition for the Homeless publishes a monthly social justice paper called Street Speech. Low-income individuals buy and sell the newspaper and collect donations from Columbus citizens. These low-income individuals get a sense of pride knowing they are making an honest living and feeling better about themselves. If you want to find out more about Street Speech or the Columbus Coalition for the Homeless check out their website here: http://www.columbushomeless.org/.   This was put together by the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio to educate pedestrians in Downtown Columbus about the value of the street paper. 

The Columbus paper has grown substantially over the last eight years.  It is much bigger than the Cleveland Street Paper which has published for 21 years.  The paper has a newer editor who has been with the paper for the last year.  It is a really good paper for the capital city.  Check out the video interviews with Columbus Street Speech vendors. 

by Sarah and Brian

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Saturday
Jul052014

Cosgrove Renovations and Celebration

You don't realize how valuable the day shelters are in the community until they are closed for renovations.  This week the Bishop Cosgrove Center is closed until July 18 to put in some much needed renovations of the kitchen area in place for the 20th anniversary.  Cosgrove Center was opened in 1994, and they have a series of events this year culminating in the fifth Hand Up Gala in October.

On Friday August 22, they are having a Mass and reception at 3 p.m at St. Peter's Church celebrated by Bishop Richard Lennon to mark 20 years.  The Cosgrove is asking those who plan to attend to RSVP to Kimberly Miller by calling 216/781-8262.  The program has served millions of meal and hundreds of thousands of individuals over the last 20 years.  There are thousands of volunteers (both corporate and religious) who have served a meal at the Bishop Cosgrove Center over the last few decades. They give out identification and assist people to find affordable housing.  They help with pantry food to the neighbors who are struggling to pay the bills.  They are always available with a shoulder to cry or some sound advice on where to find help.  At one time, the women's shelter was at Cosgrove and for a little over a year they were offering a dinner a the Cosgrove.  They serve a vital function within the landscape of Cleveland. 

We had the Homeless Congress meeting today with a light crowd because the Cosgrove was closed and we were stood up again by City Councilwoman Phyllis Cleveland.  The Community Centers, Libraries and Hands On NEO volunteers have been helping to provide food and a space for people normally at Cosgrove Center.  They have also seen a large number of families using the day shelter services this summer, and staff have been trying negotiate peace among all the different guests using the facility. Sharon, the chef at Cosgrove, serves around 85 breakfasts and around 180 lunches everyday.   The provide a cooling center in the summer and a place out of the snow every weekday during the winter.   Cosgrove staff host really nice meals for some of the major holidays, and we look forward to them reopening after the renovation.  They don't get enough credit or appreciation, but I know that homeless and low income people care deeply about the Cosgrove Center. 

by Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

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