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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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Entries in central intake (12)

Friday
Sep182015

Here is a Prime Example of Why Frontline is Not a Good Partner

This is the e-mail we received yesterday from Frontline Services:

Dear Colleagues-

Since our move to 1736 Superior, the Coordinated Intake program has operated 7 days a week from 8:00a to 8:00p.  Coordinated Intake, which is a collaboration of FrontLine Service and the Cleveland Mediation Center, has been working extremely hard with those we serve to effectively explore options to shelter and provide timely shelter placement.

This email is being sent to you because we are changing the days of on site operations.  Because of a recent funding gap, effective immediately, (NEOCH added underline for emphasis) our new hours of operation will be Monday through Friday, from 8:00a to 8:00p. We will no longer operate on site Saturdays and Sundays.

Saturdays and Sundays will follow our after-hour protocol. Single men and women seeking shelter will go to 2100 Lakeside Men’s Shelter or Norma Herr Women’s Center, respectively. Singles arriving at shelter during the weekend will be sent to Coordinated Intake on Monday for a complete intake and assessment.

Families seeking shelter will need to contact 2-1-1 who will link them with an on-call staff person. The on-call person will triage by phone and attempt to divert. If needed, they will meet at FrontLine Service to complete the intake and proceed to emergency shelter placement.

It is our hope that the need to discontinue on site weekend hours will not greatly impact service delivery. Please feel free to contact me.

-LaTonya-

Director, Emergency Housing Services

FrontLine Service, formerly MHS

No warning, no letting the outreach teams or churches who may be dropping off people over the weekend.  They did not let us know so we could update the Homeless Street Card.  They did not hold a discussion with all the partner agencies to talk about the pros and cons and alternatives.  We just had a County Homeless meeting last week and they could have warned us that this might be coming.  Funding does not change so dramatically that the largest homeless service provider in the community cannot take a few weeks to ease into this decision.  They are really bad partners to the rest of the small groups in the community who are providing referrals or trying to work on the issue of ending homelessness.  This will be fine in five years when Frontline Service takes over every charity in Cuyahoga County and we are all Frontline employees, but at this time the agency does not provide very good services to homeless people.

They do a really bad job overseeing the Women's Shelter and they are not really solid partner when they need multiple organizations working on the same page.  We have a bunch of questions about what we are supposed to do without Coordinated Intake on the weekend and no venue for getting answers.  Are they going to pay First Call for Help to take all these extra calls and spend all this extra time with homeless families?  How will we assure that we circle back to the men and women who became homeless on the weekend to make sure that they complete the Central Intake application?  Who will declare that we need to open an overflow site if many families show up this weekend needing help? Wish there was a partner who cared about the opinions of the rest of the Continuum or the County demanded that the shelters and services play nice with eachother.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Thursday
Feb052015

Coordinated Intake Moving on February 24

From Frontline Services in Cleveland:

From NEOCH: For those who live outside or are resistant to go to shelter this is a big step forward.  This also should help with all the staff in one place so that when there are a lot of men the staff who traditionally serve women can step in to offer assistance.  We will be promoting this move over the next month and staff will be educating the public about this move at many upcoming meetings.  

Here is a copy of the flyer that you can print out and display

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Friday
May092014

Updates on Laura's Home and Homeless Congress

We had new County Council Anthony Hairston as our guest at the Homeless Congress meeting this week.  As with most meetings of the Homeless Congress, there is a lot of anger within the homeless community over discharges and the treatment that they receive by the shelter system.  Hairston was good about patiently listening to his constituents and pledging to follow up on many of these issues. 

We did learn that there has been movement in the Laura's Home situation after the article appeared in the Plain Dealer.   Ruth Gillett of the Office of Homeless Services attended the meeting and indicated that there was a meeting last week between the County and the agency for which an agreement was drafted.  We are not sure if the agency, City Mission, is going to accept the agreement and we will post the results next week.  The agreement as described by the County was that they would allow homeless individuals to go to Laura's Home first, but they must report to Coordinated Intake within a week.  All current residents would be allow to go over to Coordinated Intake to complete the application for help and maintain their homeless status.  This is exactly what the Homeless Congress had requested way back in October before they were shut down by County Council member Yvonne Conwell (we posted the letter in our member HUB section).  Conwell blamed HUD policy for turning down their request.  I guess if a member of the big time Congress gets involved then HUD rules go out the door, but if their constituent working for the Homeless Congess they don't care.

Also at the meeting, we discussed problems at the Community Women's shelter including food issues, staff disrespect and threats of improper discharges.  Hairston listened patiently to all the problems and at the end vowed that he would work with the Congress, the shelter, and the Office of Homeless Services to resolve some of these issues. The lack of an effective grievance procedure in the community was a big topic of the meeting.  The Cleveland Mediation Center was contracted to do this service, but most in the homeless community do not consider CMC as an independent third party since they are a partner in the Coordinated Intake.   If you were forced into arbitration over a defective part in your GM car, would you accept that that a staff member of the Delphi corporation, a partner of GM in the construction of your car, would hear your concern?   This is what it is like for a homeless person except that CMC has no ability to overturn a decision by a shelter, and almost always the punishment has already happened. 

The members of Congress and NEOCH are working to improve the shelter regulations in our community.  Here are the current regulations.   One surprising issue that we have stumbled on was reporting of deaths within the shelters.  The County agency that funds all the shelters has refused to collect information on anyone who dies in the shelter.  Homeless people and advocates cannot believe that there is not a place that people can go to find information on how many homeless people died in the shelters in Cleveland.  Jails, nursing homes, hospitals, mental health facilities all have a protocol for notifying a funder or governmental agency about deaths.  Shelters do not have to complete a piece of paper that says that there was a death and the reason for the death.  Every death is reported to the Medical Examiner, but there is no paperwork prepared,  collected and provided to government by the staff at the place of death.  This seems strange that shelter staff do not have to report to the health department or the Office of Homeless Services about a death.  We discussed this issue with the Councilman Hairston.

Finally, we discussed the possibility of the County passing a law to protect homeless people using the shelters.  We want to put into law that the shelters will not turn people away, will construct a third party grievance procedure to arbitrate disputes.   Here are the big list that we had first proposed.  We have since paired it down to 15 recommendations that we would like to see passed into law.  We had worked with Councilman Julian Rogers who then took a job with CSU.  We are hoping that Councilman Hairston takes up the legislation and works with the Homeless Congress to improve the conditions in the shelters. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

 

Friday
Apr042014

HUD Rejects Our Complaint About Coordinated Intake

In April 2013, the County decided that anyone who does not go to the Coordinated Intake first would not be considered homeless and therefore not have access to the rest of the services in the community.  For men, you have to go to 2100 Lakeside shelter first before going to any other facility in the community for assistance with your homelessness.  Women and women with children must start their journey at the Norma Herr Center at 2227 Payne Ave.  If they go to one of the privately funded shelters in the community before going to Coordinated Intake, they lose their ability to access rental assistance, transitional housing or any other publicly funded homeless service.   So, if a woman goes to Laura's Home because she needs a place for her kids for the night and stays there for a month then she tries to get in something more stable the family would be told that they are not homeless and therefore do not have access to a transitional shelter or rental assistance.

We complained and the Homeless Congress complained to the County about this rule as being unfair because these women did not know the rules when they came to the shelter.  There should be a grandfathering of all the women who were in the shelter before the policy went into place at a minimum.   We also felt the policy is a direct attack on religiously based shelters that do not rely on taxpayers for support.  Why should a shelter that receives no public money force their clients to go to the County Coordinated intake first?  Why should these private religiously based shelters be forced to take women from the County intake system who may not be a good match for their facility?  If a Christian based shelter is paying the full price of the shelter, food and clothing, should they be forced to serve an unmarried couple or a woman who may need health or mental health assistance that the staff are not trained to offer?  There is no public money going to Laura's Home and they want the ability to serve the clients that would fit with the religious teachings that are part of the daily activity of the shelter.   It does not seem fair that if the women is living in a privately funded shelter, she should lose access to publicly funded services.  She paid her taxes and just because she did not know the rules of being homeless in Cleveland her family will have to spend extra time homeless. 

The County Council backed the County staff decision to exclude residents of Laura's Home, City Mission, St. Herman's and Maggie's Place from receiving publicly funded services and blamed the HUD policy for this decision. We wrote about this in our member section of the website (must login). Here is the response from the County (again in the member section of the website).  NEOCH then went to HUD to complain about this policy.  All we got back was this:

Outcome/Conclusion:   The Cuyahoga County CoC [Continuum of Care=federal funding grant recipient] coordinated assessment and central intake process is compliant to the requirements at 24 CFR 578.7 of the CoC Program interim rule.   Regarding the 3 women, the continuum’s action is substantiated by their central intake process.  

Please let me know if you have any additional questions or if I can be of assistance in the future.

Sincerely,

Tonya Proctor   

This is not going to go over well with conservative Congress members who often have strong support from religious organizations.   HUD is allowing this split between private shelters and publicly funded shelters at a time in which the federal government is cutting shelter funding.  They are allowing the County to treat those who go to privately funded shelters as second class citizens who are not entitled to the same tax supported services as the rest of the tax payers.  The City Mission has been a part of the homeless system in Cleveland for over 100 years.  I do not understand why County officials want to alienate the Mission?  They have been a part of our response locally whenever the shelters are full by providing overflow space.  They have offered shelters and transitional space for years, and now their clients are being scolded for going to the mission before Coordinated intake.  Even staying one night at Laura's Home before going to Coordinated Intake, they lose their status as a homeless person.  This is a horrible policy and County officials need to rethink this mistreatment of residents who are just trying to find a warm place to lay their head after being kicked out of their housing. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those and only those who sign the entry.

Tuesday
Mar112014

At Least We Don't Live in Columbus Ohio

We have real problems with diversion as part of Central Intake mostly based on concerns of women at the shelter.   We do not believe that it is ever a good idea to return a woman to the place she was last night if there is a possibility that the women will experience domestic violence.   The County is following a trend in the United States to interview people and ask them where they slept last night, and then try to negotiate a place to stay with family, friends or landlord that is not in the shelters.  This is called Diversion and it is the latest trend out of Washington DC.  Over 20% of the people do not get a shelter bed and are relocated back to the community.   I am skeptical that a victim of domestic violence would tell a total stranger that she is being abused if she is embarrassed or ashamed that she has stayed with the abuser for an extended period of time.  We don't have clear rules for serving the population at the Central Intake site and there is not an established grievance procedure if the person is diverted improperly.  New York City advocates have pushed back and delayed implementation of the diversion program, but in Columbus, Ohio it is a nightmare. 

Columbus has a phone based system that the person seeking shelter calls in to get a bed. I talked to a guy, "Alex," who I trust to give me the real situation and his experience in trying to get shelter in Columbus.   He showed up at Friends of the Homeless and was told that he has to call to get a "reservation" instead.  So, they let him use the phone to call to get a bed.  He waited in their lobby on hold on the phone for an hour and half to get a bed before they kicked him to the street because he was on the phone too long.  He found another phone and called in finally reaching a human.  This person asked his name, social security number, date of birth and some other highly personal information to tell a total stranger on the phone.  They then asked him "Where did you spend last night?"   Alex said, "I am uncomfortable telling you where I slept last night."  The rude Central Intake staff told Alex, "Well, when you are comfortable talking about it call us back,"  and hung up the phone leaving Alex without a place to stay.   This whole process in Columbus just seems evil to me.  If Alex had been given a shelter bed there is also a time limit on the reservation, so if he does not get to the shelter in a timely manner the bed is given to someone else.  It is much easier to be dirty and devious on the phone than it is in person. 

That is why I say once again, "At least we don't live in Columbus Ohio.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect only the opinion of those who sign the entry.