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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 Laura's Home (3)

Friday
Oct102014

Hope House Cuts Ribbon on First Home Given Away

Last night, the City Mission, Church on the Rise and the Land Bank cut the ribbon on a new project called Hope House.  This is a partnership to provide homes to families coming out of Laura's Home who are ready for the responsibility of owning a home.  City Mission manages the Laura's Home family homeless shelter and found a property worth saving from the Cuyahoga Land Bank.  They went to Church on the Rise to provide the funding and volunteer base to make this project work. 

Michelle (pictured here on her new back porch) and her five kids will be moving into the property.  She has seven children with two adult children living on their own.  Michelle was beaming last night showing off the work that she did on the house.  She has put in the sweat equity with the other members of the congregation to help put this house together.  She helped scrape off old paint and cleaned up the backyard.  She carried building materials and assisted all the craftsmen who helped put this house back together.   There were so many who donated materials and labor in order to return this dilapidated house that will help with the effort to heal this neighborhood.

Councilman Tony Brancatelli said that he was honored to be at the ribbon cutting, and Gus Frangos of the Land Bank said that this is the exact project that the Land Bank was created to do.  Both felt that Michelle was going to be a wonderful neighbor as she has overcome so many obstacles to get to this place.  WEWS-TV5 attended the festivities and interviewed Michelle.  It was an uplifting day to see a family move from the shelter into a renovated house.  It has new windows, fresh paint, a new porch, brand new floors and a newly renovated kitchen. The house was cut up and beat up and eventually abandoned.  Michelle will raise her family in this beautiful home after a slight interruption of instability.  They are right on a busline in a recovering neighborhood.  People brought welcome baskets from throughout the community.  They brought food and towels and household items to welcome her to the neighborhood.

This is a new venture for the City Mission called Hope House and we hope that this is the first of many similiar projects to move families back into housing.  It is a great project that is the subject of almost every gathering of homeless people.  "Why can't we rebuild all those abandoned properties in the community to reduce the homeless population," is what we hear at almost every meeting of more than three homeless people.   This house is the answer to those questions.  It takes a partnership between the homeless providers, government, and religious organizations to make this work.  We hope that more churches and synagogues will step forward to help.  Congratulations to Michelle and the staff of City Mission for making this work.  Thanks to the the Church on the Rise Congregation led by Pastor Paul for stepping forward to be the first congregation to purchase the house and contribute the volunteers. 

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.