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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 NCH (10)


Discrimination Against Homeless People Report Released

The National Coalition for the Homeless has issued a briefing paper this week in Washington DC on the opinions of homeless people in the nation's capital.  This was a summer project by students at George Washington University to interview homeless people about their treatment that they receive by law enforcement, private businesses, medical services and social services. 

It is no surprise that law enforcement and private businesses were widely described as having discriminating against homeless people.   I find it incredible that more than a third of the homeless people living in Washington felt that they had been discriminated by social service providers and nearly half of those who responded were mistreated by medical service providers.  Much of this discrimination is minor inconveniences like no bags policies at businesses but others were life threatening discrimination in limiting access to emergency rooms or not allowing homeless people to sleep outside when the shelters are all full. 

There are recommendations at the end of the report which includes passage of Homeless Bills of Rights and passing anti-discrmination statutes in municipalities.  There could be better training of law enforcement in how to serve low income individuals and legal cases brought against businesses that routinely deny services to fragile and disabled populations. 

Check out the report.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.


Ohio Safer for Homeless People in 2012

William Gilmore reading the names at the 2011 Homeless Memorial DayIn the new report issued by the National Coalition for the Homeless they rank the states according to how dangerous they are for homeless people.  Ohio has been in the top 5 for dangerous states for the past 10 years.  Typically, we have had seven to ten attacks with one or two resulting in death.  Cleveland has seen rock attacks, stun gun attacks, rapes and bricks thrown from cars.  Most of the attacks over the last 14 years took place in Cincinnati and the Dayton area.  It is always strange how cities with a great deal of hostility toward homeless programs and people always are at the top of the list of hate crimes directed at the poor. 

50% of the perpetrators of these attacks were under 20 years old.  38% of those who are attacked are older than 50 years of age.  There were a total of 88 crimes against homeless people documented by police or advocates in communities throughout the United States.  Florida with twice as many attacks as the nearest state of California was number one again this year in hate crimes.   There were 15 attacks that resulted in the death of the individual including the serial killer in California who was targeting homeless people in 2012.  

The non-lethal attacks in Ohio included a rape of a teenager in Columbus Ohio in December 2012.  In May 2012, a group of Toledo teenagers beat a homeless person named Todd Swint.  There are resources in the back including local contacts and updates on the movement to pass a homeless bill of rights in states throughout the United States.  Check out the report and support the National Coalition for the Homeless.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.



National Homeless Group Selects New Director

The Board of Directors of the National Coalition for the Homeless, of which I am a member, announced this week the appointment of Jerry Jones as its new Executive Director. Jones follows the successful work of Neil Donovan, who stepped down from this role in May.

Board President John Parvensky announced the new hire:

"Homelessness in America is a national tragedy that has been tolerated for far too long. We can no longer stand quietly while budgets are cut and our political leaders try to manage the problem rather than solve it. We intend to escalate pressure to demand a response that is proportionate to this crisis, and we have hired an Executive Director with a strong background in grassroots mobilization to lead this effort. We are especially committed to making sure that the voices of those experiencing homelessness themselves and others living in extreme poverty are heard in this debate."

Jones has a twenty-five year background in community organizing, issue advocacy and national-level campaigns. He is a former aide to the late Mitch Snyder, a prominent advocate for the homeless during the 1980s. More recently, Jones worked with the Center for Community Change, where he has served as the Director of Special Initiatives. His roles there included founding the Center’s electoral program in 2004, helping to launch the National Campaign for Jobs and Income Support, and coordinating a national progressive coalition in response to last year’s Fiscal Cliff.   Jones has experience with community organizing and assisting fragile populations with voting.

For more information about the National Coalition for the Homeless, please visit our website: Look for more information from the new director in mid July.


National Coalition for the Homeless Marks 30 Years

Thirty years ago, the National Coalition for the Homeless was founded after spinning off from the New York Coalition.  I attended the kick off event to mark this historic day in Washington.  I got to talk to Fred Karnas who was a previous Executive Director and has some great stories of building the organization.  It was nice to meet Heather from the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty during the gathering.  I had talked to her on the phone during civil rights conference calls, but never met her in person.  Michael Stoops gave a history lesson on all the work done by the Coalition including the HousingNow march in the 1980s, the McKinney Vento legislation and pushing for additional funding for the homeless programs.  For thirty years the National Coalition has been known to represent the civil rights of those experiencing homelessness. The best part of the evening was hearing from the Speakers, Steve and T.,  who do hundreds of speaking engagements at schools and before religious communities.  I talked to a number of the speakers who attended the event; all had previous experience with homelessness.  It is amazing that some of these people can get up in the morning let alone talk publicly about the trauma they underwent on their path back to stable housing.  They all have tremendous stories about the adversity of living on the streets, fights against bureaucracy, and abuse.  These speakers had found stability and a voice to work out their pain.  It is always amazing that they can put their rough times into perspective that provides a small glimpse into homelessness.

NCH has for 30 years represented the interests of those living without housing and trying to bring those voices to the halls of Congress.  It was great hearing from a professor at Georgetown, Sarah Stiles,  who makes it a point of having her classes hear from people living on the streets.   She talked about the classroom talks and the alternative spring breaks offered to college students from around the country in Washington.  As an aside for the first time a group got in trouble with the police for sleeping outside.   The group never disclosed that they were students on break in DC, and were taken in by the police but not charged. 

Neil Donovan was the Master of Ceremony for the event, and most of the Board were able to attend the anniversary.  We are going to miss Neil, but we know that he left the organization in a better place than he found it.   It is difficult to not have a feeling of remorse that the country has not solved homelessness in thirty years.   How does the group celebrate that they made it through tough times, but not send a confusing message that they are celebrating that homeless people have kept them in business for 30 years? It is a balancing act to not alienate the group you cherish most of all, homeless people, but celebrate overcoming obstacles that would have killed most groups.  NCH has seen some great times when they had staff in all different policy areas and were the foremost expert on the rights of homeless children and youth.   They have made hate crimes against homeless people a national policy issue.  The staff were experts in housing, the rights of homeless people, entitlements, and employment issues.  They wrote white papers every couple of months on policy and legislative issues.  They led letter writing campaigns and pushed local governments to give up on attempts to hide homeless people.  They pushed against Congress and social service agencies trying to mute the social justice aspects of the struggle to find a place for everyone in society.  They worked to make housing a right and not a privilege that only the sobor or mentally stable have access to in our society.

It is a good time to remind supporters of the local Coalitions to contribute to NCH with a donation to assure that they will be around to see this housing crisis to a just end.  We urge you to support a group that has spent 30 years fighting the good fight?  Many who founded the organization are no longer around including Mitch Snyder in DC, buddy gray in Cincinnati, Ellen Daily in Massachusetts, and John Donahue in Chicago.  These four were amazing advocates in the struggle to build affordable housing and provide universal health care in the United States.   NCH has had some amazing advocates associated with the organization over the years including Cheryl BarnesDr. Matt Vega,  Barbara Duffield, Lynn Lewis, Shelia Crowley, Paul Boden, Bill Faith, John Lozier and Chuck Currie.    I am happy to currently serve with John Parvensky of Denver who is the current board president doing amazing work out in Colorado.   Donald Whitehead who cut his teeth in the shadow of buddy gray fighting against the forces who wanted to sweep poor people out of Over the Rhine is a former Executive Director and current board member.  The NCH Board also has Patrick Markee who grew up in Cleveland, but now is a major policy wonk in New York City.  There are powerful voices from the deep rural south, Florida, Indiana, Washington state, Sacramento, and Boston on the current board.

NCH has always had some strong loud voices, but the majority of the people associated with the organization over the years are the people who day in and day out are trying to figure out how to get the food to last for the last 20 stragglers in the soup line.  They work every night to find a bed for the individual forgotten by the rest of society sleeping on a park bench at midnight.  They come to the nation's capital looking for someone else who understands the misery of homelessness and wants to find a long term solution.  They are looking for a plan, resources, or a massive development of housing to keep the children back in their community from facing the fear of not knowing where they will sleep at night.  

Please help the National Coalition for the Homeless as they mark 30 years of survival and 30 years of finding a place in our society for all. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry. 


National Coalition for the Homeless Looking for a Director

The National Coalition for the Homeless Announced last week that they were seeking a new Executive Director for the organization.  They have an announcement on their website here.  I am board member of NCH, so am somewhat biased here.  It is sad to see Neil Donovan leave the organization.  He has been with the organization since 2009 turning the organization around after a rough period.  He worked well with the staff and restored some of the credibility of the organization at the National level.  He always was pushing the views of homeless people to staff at HUD, Interagency Council and in Congress.  He rebuilt a local advisory group in DC to push civil rights issues and make recommendations on local and national policy changes.  

Neil came to Cleveland for a fundraiser in 2011 and we got to hear his strategy for involving homeless people in the struggle to end homelessness in the United States.  This was a comprehensive strategy not to end homelessness for veterans or families or one of the other many most favored populations, but for all homeless people.  He was always inviting those experiencing homelessness to meetings, and had his ear to the ground.  Over the 30 year history of the National Coalition for the Homeless they have become known as the one group to amplify the voice of those on the streets.   There are groups that represent shelters, lawyers or specific populations, but NCH has always tried to represent all different kinds of people from the hated panhandler to the innocent child to the runaways as well as the immigrants.  If they were homeless, NCH represented their interests in Washington.

Neil came out of the Boston shelters and worked for years as a shelter director learning the bureacracy of funding social services as well as the struggles that homeless people face everyday.  He did a great deal of consulting on rural homelessness in Ohio as well as policy work for the National Alliance.  At NCH he took over the organization as it was finding its way after a low point with the financial downturn.  This is one of the hardest groups in the world to work with because of the 30 years of history and the balancing act the director faces.  NCH has board members who have been with the agency for 20 or more years.  They have a community organizing history with staff who have been with the organization since the 1970s.  They have hands in the local DC community with helping to found the street newspaper and the homeless memorial while also working on Congressional issues. We will miss Neil and hope that the Board can find a replacement to continue to rebuild the organization.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinions of those who sign the entry.