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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.

The Cleveland Street Chronicle
Jim Schlecht Event

Entries in hate crimes (18)

Monday
Jul112016

Hate Crimes Report Issued by NCH

The National Coalition for the Homeless has recently published No Safe Street: A Survey of Hate Crimes and Violence Committed Against Homeless People in 2014 & 2015. The report finds that over the last 17 years, at least 1,657 people experiencing homelessness have been victims of violent hate crimes, including 428 people who were murdered. In 2014-2015 alone, there were 192 documented violent hate crimes against homeless individuals, with 58 incidents being fatal. No Safe Street demonstrates a clear correlation between laws criminalizing homelessness and the increase of hate crimes against homeless people. California and Florida's cities have passed the most laws criminalizing homelessness in recent years, and also experienced the highest numbers of hate crimes against homeless individuals in 2014-2015. 

We've looked at the National Coalition's report and taken out the relevant information regarding anti-homeless hate crimes in Ohio. In the past 17 years, there have been 85 documented incidents of violence against people experiencing homelessness in Ohio, with 5 of those incidents occuring in 2014-2015. Ohio has some of the highest levels of hate crimes against homeless individuals, behind only California, Florida, and Texas. 

In Ohio:

Years

Number of Documented Incidents

1999-2015

85

2014-2015

5

 

Narratives of Hate Crimes against the Homeless in Ohio:

Columbus, Ohio

***September, 19th: “Carl Quiller, 19, is charged with murder after shooting three homeless people, killing one. He shot Carlos Aguilar, 48, in the arm, and Gertrude Hall, 51, in her face and back, before shooting and killing Thomas Henson, 63, who was sleeping in his truck. Quiller was arrested after making a call to 911, claiming he found Henson. During the call, he sounded like he was trying to save Henson’s life, saying, “Stay awake man…There’s a big hole in his pillow laying up against his head. So, I’d imagine he got shot in the head.” The police who found a gun and ammunition that matched those used in both crimes searched Quiller’s home. Quiller was also found to have had a violent crime history: at 13, he was arrested for assault, rape at 14, robbery at 15, and another assault at 16.”  

Dayton, Ohio

****October, 1st: “Earl Horn was on his way to a shelter when a pair of dogs viciously attacked him, and the owner took off and left him in the field. He was walking through the park when he noticed the two dogs, one brown and white, the other black, running through the field. He called to the owner and asked if the dogs were okay, but “before (he) knew it they charged (him)”… Horn was able to call 911 and ask for help. The dogs and owner are still unidentified.

****March, 7th: Ronald Baird, 51, was attacked by three teenage boys, 14, 15 and 17 years of age.”

Cincinnati, Ohio

****July 27th: Three individuals assaulted John Hensley, 49, with one of the assailants later stating that he committed the attack because he was bored. The attack happened, as Hensley was exiting a drop-in center and lasted for 15 minutes. A staff member of the drop-in center alerted police officers and all perpetrators were detained and charged with misdemeanor assault.

Zanesville, Ohio

****February 12th: Two homeless individuals were assaulted by Estep, 27. Estep faces ten years in prison after taking a plea bargain.

National Statistics:

Monday
Dec212015

History of NEOCH Civil Rights

For the entire history of the Coalition, staff have worked on protecting against municipal actions that target homeless people and the hate crimes that result when government singles out one group in our society.  We believe that there is a correlation between high numbers of hate crimes against homeless people and the cities in the United States that routinely pass laws directed at homeless people.  It is for this reason that we regularly oppose “quality of life” laws and targeted enforcement against homeless people for purely innocent behavior of attempting to live without housing.  Here is a summary of the NEOCH Civil Rights work:

Clements vs. Cleveland

The first attempt in the mid 1990s to stop police arresting and threatening arrest of homeless people for purely innocent behavior of sitting or sleeping on the sidewalk.  Police accused of driving homeless people to the outskirts of Cuyahoga County and dropping them off the bus line.  The City of Cleveland eventually settled with the four plaintiffs and basically blamed “rogue cops” for misinterpreting the directives issued from the administration.  Richard Clements passed away in New York this year.

Homeless Grapevine vs. City of Cleveland

The City felt that vendors of the street newspaper must buy a license before they could sell a paper on the sidewalks of Cleveland.  NEOCH won in the district court, but was reversed on appeal.  City tried to pass legislation to force vendors buy a license, but could not get the legislation through the City Council.  Vendors are currently free to sell the paper within the City of Cleveland with only an agency issued license, but City maintains right to regulate the sidewalk if the City Council can agree. 

Key vs. City of Cleveland

This was the second attempt to stop the sweeps of homeless people in Cleveland.  Police began ticketing homeless people around the holidays to encourage people to come Downtown to shop.  Police were willing to testify that this was City policy at the time because they did not want to be labelled as “going rogue.”  Cleveland settled the lawsuit in 2000 and we have posed the settlement on our website.  It basically states that the police will not arrest or threaten arrest anyone for purely innocent behavior of sitting, sleeping, standing or eating on the sidewalk as long as they are not blocking access.  NEOCH tests this agreement every November to assure that it is still being followed (Appendix A). 

Stun Gun Attacks

In the early 2000s, there were young people who came to Cleveland from Youngstown and recorded themselves using a Taser stun gun to shock homeless people and film their reaction.  NEOCH pushed for harsh punishments for these three young people, and held a community meeting to talk about protection for vulnerable populations.

Homeless Exploitation Videos

There were major retailers in the United States online and in stores that were selling videos of homeless people fighting in exchange for change or alcohol.  NEOCH worked with the National Coalition for the Homeless to convince major retailers such as Best Buy and Target to stop selling these exploitation videos in their stores.  These were recorded by young people and collected together and then sold in many stores and online retailers.

Covenant to Serve Food

The City was concerned over the mess being created on Public Square by church groups feeding homeless people.  We worked with the new administration to avoid the City passing legislation that we would have had to challenge in court.  NEOCH worked out a “covenant” where the church groups would move off public square to a parking lot with trash and bathroom facilities and the City agreed to not introduce legislation.

The Right to Shelter

Since the founding of the Coalition, NEOCH has fought to assure that the shelters are accessible to everyone in need and at no time will the shelters turn people away over a lack of space.  For over 20 years we have had guaranteed access to shelter in Cleveland, and we have worked to improve the conditions at the shelters.  When the shelters are full, providers will transport people to a church or recreation center as an overflow site if the building capacity is reached.  We also support the development of an overnight drop in center similar to Metanoia for the entire year.

Voting Lawsuit Against the State of Ohio

NEOCH has filed suit against the State of Ohio and three Secretaries of State from 2005 through the present over voting procedures in the state.  Our concern was regarding the identification requirements and their impact on reducing turnout by low income, homeless and minority voters.  I have provided a series of depositions in this case.  In years 2006, 2008 and 2012, we had a settlement with the state to allow homeless people to use a social security number to have their ballot count if they voted in person.  This agreement was binding until 2014 when the state changed the law regarding the use of identification for provisional ballots.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Saturday
Jun202015

Words of Comfort in the Face of Hate

President Obama referenced the Martin Luther King Jr. eulogy in Birmingham when offering words of comfort following the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. We are all shocked by the level of hate that visited a religious institution and killed 9 amazing people while practicing their religion just because of the color of their skin.  It was amazing to hear the families forgive the alleged shooter.  This massacre has shocked the consciousness of our society and we hope will lead to some positive changes.  I went back to the full eulogy and found comfort in King's words.

And so I stand here to say this afternoon to all assembled here, that in spite of the darkness of this hour (Yeah Well), we must not despair. (Yeah, Well) We must not become bitter (Yeah, That's right), nor must we harbor the desire to retaliate with violence. No, we must not lose faith in our white brothers. (Yeah, Yes) Somehow we must believe that the most misguided among them can learn to respect the dignity and the worth of all human personality.

May I now say a word to you, the members of the bereaved families? It is almost impossible to say anything that can console you at this difficult hour and remove the deep clouds of disappointment which are floating in your mental skies. But I hope you can find a little consolation from the universality of this experience. Death comes to every individual. There is an amazing democracy about death. It is not aristocracy for some of the people, but a democracy for all of the people. Kings die and beggars die; rich men and poor men die; old people die and young people die. Death comes to the innocent and it comes to the guilty. Death is the irreducible common denominator of all men.

Here is the full speech.


We know that we have made huge advancements since King was leading the civil rights movement, but we still have a long way to go.  There is still racism; there is still the need for fair housing protections and civil rights protections for minority populations.  There is still a resentment of minority populations and fear of those who are different. Poverty and homelessness are disproportionately impacting minority populations.  We cannot being to solve these issues until we have a truth and reconciliation for the crimes and injustice of nearly 200 years of racism that is the foundation of the United States.  

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Sunday
Jan182015

Homelessness Updates

Did New Orleans really solve veteran's homelessness?  Media in the Big Easy have spent the past few weeks examining the proclamation by Mayor Landrieu that veteran's homelessness has been ended in New Orleans and found the program lacking.  There is always the problem of counting homeless people that makes it difficult to proclaim victory.  There is the problem of the varied definition of what is a  veteran that complicates the matter.  Are you a veteran after 2 months of service or 2 years of services? Then there is the problem that homeless people are so fluid and fall in and out of homelessness on a daily basis.  It is bold to make this proclamation, but until you end all homelessness it is impossible to declare victory with just one population. 

It is true that there are tons of veteran's resources available now. If you spent time in the military and were not dishonorably discharged, there is so much help available right now.  We really have all the tools at our disposal to end veteran's homelessness.  But there are a lot of hard core vets who have no contact with anyone and will be hard to reach.  It would be unnerving for a retired Marine corporal to be sitting in the library waiting for the rain to subside and read in the Times Picayune that your city had "solved" veterans homelessness while you struggled with PTSD and were bouncing around from family to living in a car.  The Marine is thinking once you solve a problem, you stop dedicating resources and staff, and move on to something else.  It would seem like you missed the train that will never come around again. 

Toledo Blade wrote about what homeless people do during the extreme cold.  This was an interesting story about the huge number of people who use the library as a drop in center.

Lakewood teens again spend the night outside in the cold to call attention to homelessness on the North Coast.  We have featured stories about previous groups from Lakewood Congregational church about their sleeping outside in the Street Chronicle.  We appreciate them calling attention to the plight of homeless people in the cold.

Bloomberg has a good article about why the President never talks about rent.   The same could be said about homelessness, and the president only mentioning homelessness when he is volunteering on a service day.  I think that the architect of modern homelessness, Ronald Reagan, was the last President who was forced to talk about solutions to homelessness.  But half the population rent from a landlord and state or federal elected office holders rarely talk about it.

The City of Cincinnati became the third city to enact a homeless hate crimes bill.  Cleveland has one of the laws, but it is rarely used.  Most of the time a hate crime is a felony and local laws do not address crimes of that severity.  The State of Ohio would need to pass legislation to include homeless people in the existing hate crimes statute to make it real.  It is good that the city is trying to do something about the attacks on homeless people and were willing to talk about these issues. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Wednesday
Dec242014

Ohio News Updates

Cincinnati Councilman introduces a law to protect against hate crimes.  The article mentions that Cleveland has a hate crimes law, but it is a mere formality.  It only applies to misdemeanors and is a recommendation not a requirement. How many attacks on homeless people were ever misdemeanors?  It was a feel good piece of legislation.  The Cincinnati folks want something with more teeth to address a rise in attacks on homeless people in the Queen City. 

Additional state dollars given to the shelters in and around Cleveland.  In the face of three years of federal cuts backs and shelters that closed in 2014, there is a small amount of support from the state.  Emergency shelters have been starved for funds and these state dollars will not close the gap.  It will keep hope alive that more funds are coming, but it will not make up for the huge loss of public support shelters have faced since the downturn.  The trend in Washington is to fund expensive housing for the people who have been homeless the longest, veterans and young people.  Everyone else is out of luck trying to find help in the face of budget cuts.  In Cleveland this means nine months of overflow for families.  

US Conference of Mayors report released including a number of Ohio cities.  Take the data with a huge grain of salt.  They are typically just asking one guy at City Hall what they think about homelessness and hunger.  These guys call around to advocates, United Way or food programs and pull a figure out of the air.  They are typically based on nothing hard or solid and they vary throughout the country.  So, there is no way to compare Cleveland to Chicago or San Diego.  But they do have the bigger trends in our community dead on.  We are seeing huge increases in families and more people seeking help with food.   We are seeing more young people who are homeless because we are finally paying attention to this problem.  Despite the turn around, wages are still stagnant and people are then becoming homeless.  Affordable housing is still out of touch for many living in cities with huge waiting lists and housing being taken out of the inventory because of age.  So, pay attention to the message but ignore the numbers in the report.

Front Steps is rebranded name of Transitional Housing Inc.  The program started back in the 1980s when a bunch of nuns got together to fill a need for single women without a place to live.   They found an abandoned traveler's cheap motel that was slipping into the river as their home.   It featured 60 individual apartments for homeless women with a unique funding stream which was the brain child of a few near west politicians including Mary Rose Oakar.   It was owned by CMHA, but run by this non-profit organization and funded through the HUD Homeless Continuum and not the public housing funding.   It was funded as an innovative program before HUD was giving a regular allocation to each city to address homelessness.  The problem for many in the community was that those who got into the shelter then could transfer to a public housing unit so they were bypassing the waiting list.   In 2012, the program went through a strategic plan with the County staff and many others sitting in and offering suggestions.  It was decided by CMHA and the THI non-profit to move to permanent supportive housing model and away from transitional shelter.  This resulted in a huge cut to the homeless funding and an expansion to serve men.  They set up a special waiting list at CMHA and had to negotiate between three organizations to get people into the housing.  We will miss the transitional shelter in the community where every unit turns over about once a year to a program that is, well...permanent.  Housing programs typically only have a turn over rate of between 5 to 10 percent each year.  This only adds to the problem of single women trying to find a temporary shelter bed in the community.  We welcome more housing, but the cost is that people women have a harder time finding a short term place for their housing emergencies. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry