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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 outreach (21)


Training for those Who Minister to Homeless People

If you belong to a church that goes out to feed homeless people or a student group that goes to the streets of Cleveland to help those sleeping rough, we have a training opportunity for you.  We have a group of experienced outreach workers who will provide resource information and answer questions based on their years of service.  They will talk about ethical issues and the philosophy of serving those outside. 

It is tough to build a trusting relationship with those who have nearly given up on society.  Many have faced tough times and have seen the system fail for them.  Others have made huge errors in judgement that they are not willing to admit.  There are those who have trauma or mental health issues that leave them nearly paralyzed with depression or fear.  There so many reasons that lead people to the streets, and it takes a special person to work with these individuals. 

We will have a discussion of resources that are available and talk about problems facing the population.  There will be pizza available so we need those who attend to RSVP for the training session.  Any group that goes out to the streets of Cleveland are welcome to attend. The training is May 8 at 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at NEOCH.  Call 216/432-0540 to reserve your space.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.


Met with Cleveland Police Regarding the Attacks on the Camps

We had a meeting with many outreach workers and volunteers along with some of the victims of the fires down in the Flats and the Cleveland Police Department.  The new Commander of the Second District Thomas Stacho and Officer Petcak from the Downtown unit attended the meeting to hear our concerns that someone was targeting homeless people by burning down their campsites.  We heard of three active sites that were destroyed and a couple of abandoned camps.  This started the weekend of March 21 and continued last Friday March 28.   On Friday evening between 4 pm to 5 p.m.  there were a series of fires at the camps while they were away getting food.  Then when the residents went inside to get out of the cold in the middle of the night the criminals came back and torched more camps. 

NEOCH and other outreach teams are concerned that this is a hate crime, and will only get worse with more people living outside over the summer.  The Police assured us that they would follow up and would investigate these concerns.  They were going to talk to some of the business owners in the area, construction workers, and the Fire Department that responded. They were going to report back to us after interviewing some of the spectators down there and a few people identified by the victims as suspicious as well as others who go down along the river.  

The stroller lady was scared and reported all her losses including the death of one of her cats.  She was angry about many past beefs with many different people in the community.  She gets picked on so much it is hard to get her to focus on this attack and not the previous threats against her camp.  She was also frustrated that no one takes her complaints seriously for the last five years including the police.   Rick has relocated and is keeping his new location quiet.  He talked about the library books, clothing, sleeping bags and food that he lost.  He was stoic but said he did not understand these attacks.  Rick stays away from most people and does not bother anyone.  He interacts with the volunteers from Labre, but otherwise stays by himself.  He had no theories for who could have done this, because there was no threats or warning.  Rick did say that someone had stolen from him and had messed up his camp two weeks ago, but was not sure if this was related. 

The outreach teams will increase interaction with the people staying outside.  We have asked the residents to set up a "neighborhood watch" type program.  The police agreed to keep an eye out during their patrols.   We hope that they are able to find these domestic terrorists who burnt down these campsites and intentially destroyed the tents and all their possessions of these people who largely try to avoid the spotlight.

Brian Davis

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People Seem to Be Sheltering In Place

Homeless people seem to be sheltering in place and not going outside.  Everything including some of the healthcare clinic sites and drop in centers are closed today, but most people are inside.  The brave and hearty outreach teams have gone around to campsites over the last 24 hours to make sure people were safe.  We have about 8 people who the local outreach teams are checking on regularly.   The students from John Carroll, St. Ignatius, and CWRU Labre projects are still going out to check on the people they have built a relationship with over the years.  The Frontline Services staff are covering the community and helping those with mental health issues or disabilities find safe places to live.  Jim Schlecht, Tim Walters, Carl Cook and the other staff from Metanoia are keeping their drop in center open in this extreme cold.  We are giving out handwarmers, thermal sleeping bags and thousands of blankets to keep people safe.  Even with a wind chill of negative 20 degrees, people decide to stay outside under a tent and piles of blankets.  One woman told an outreach worker that she was worried her stuff inside her tent would be stolen if she went into the shelter or drop in warming center.  

The two big shelters are not turning people away and operating overflow shelters across the community.   We do not turn anyone away who requests shelter in Cleveland, and that is especially difficult during these tough winter weather.  The women over at Seasons of Hope safe haven are keeping four to six fragile women off the streets.  NEOCH staff came in today despite car issues and the 57 degree temperatures inside our office to make sure that if we received calls from social service or pedestrians we could dispatch help.   As one First Call For Help worker reported, it has been nice to see neighbors and pedestrians paying attention to homeless people and engaging them by asking about their safety.  People have called the 2-1-1 helpline to ask for assistance for people they worry about.  We are concerned that we lost track of a couple we kept an eye on during the last arctic cold spell near the freeway.  They were told that they have to move because of a cleanup, and we have not seen them for a week.   We hope that they decided to go inside and just haven't contacted anyone, but we are looking for them.  The Stand Down staff over at Handson NEO reported such an outpouring of help from the community, they have a surplus of winter items left to distribute.  We have been going over and collecting items that we need from their storage site.  We will post more about the Stand Down (it was great) as we get through this emergency. 

Brian Davis

Post reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.


A Rough Day in Cleveland Due to the Weather

We had a great plan.  We had so many people working to protect the poorest of our citizens in Cleveland.  We had safety forces, government, and social services all working together to help.  Yet we still lost someone due to the cold. Monday and Tuesday night and Tuesday during the day, we had many teams of workers and volunteers out working to protect people living on the streets.   We offered thermal sleeping gear, blankets, tents, handwarmers, shelter spaces and even nights in a hotel.  There were about a dozen people who refused to come inside no matter what we did.  Then there was one gentleman who we did not find and he passed away.   We have a hard time interacting with people who stay in abandoned buildings.   It is impossible to go on private property and check all these abandoned buildings.   We lost a member of the homeless community who froze to death while squatting in an abandoned house that we were not aware was living in that part of town.

There were outreach workers travelling outside last night from 6 to 10 p.m.  We gave out hundreds of blankets over the last few days.  The streets of Cleveland were deserted over the last two nights.   We know that a couple of homeless people went into the recreation centers that stayed openon Monday night and staffed by the Red Cross.  Most people went into the shelters and every shelter bed was full with three overflow shelters operational.  The Metanoia project brought scores of people inside who would be staying outside in the cold if they were not open.  But with all this human capital and resources going to protect people, we still lost one. 

There are so many different reasons people are on the streets.  There are hundreds of reasons people reject living in the shelters.  There is mental illness, a rejection of charity, pride, alcoholism, anger, fear, and on and on and so many more.   We did everything we could, but we could not be everywhere. 

Tuesday was a rough day for homeless people and for local social service providers.  I know that a number of the staff who showed up to help were dealing with their own issues back at their own homes.  Some had water pipes breaking at their house, but they were working to save lifes at the centers.  Some had their furnace go out and still went in to help people.  Some had their cars die in the cold while they were helping people with the meals.  The temperature at NEOCH was 52 degrees on Tuesday, but we still stayed hours to follow up on calls for help or for those in need of a ride.  Even with everyone communicating and all the resources and all the donations given out we still lost one person.  It is tough working in the shelters. 

Brian Davis

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Where have all the Homeless People Gone?

I am just amazed by the small number of people sleeping downtown these days.  Only a dozen years ago there were 40 people at the Welfare building. Public Square had at least a dozen people sleeping, and Superior Ave always had people at East 9th because of the heated sidewalks.    They are all gone.  No one sleeps at the Welfare building and there are rarely people on Public Square.   Where have all the homeless people gone in Cleveland?  

On the Friday after Thanksgiving since 2000, we have gone downtown to count the number of homeless people sleeping outside.  In the past, we had 15 people to cover the downtown because there were so many people sleeping outside.  We wanted to talk to them to make sure that the police were not harassing them to test our lawsuit settlement from 1999.   Today with the small number of people sleeping outside it only takes one person to talk to these individuals.  This year we only found three people downtown between Old River Road and East 20th and the lake and Carnegie Ave.   This is the same number as we found last year.  We have stats on our statistics page here on the Downtown homeless number.

It has to be said that this is not a measurement of how many are outside since there are many who sleep on the West Side of Cleveland, across the river or on the East side in Midtown or St. Clair/Superior.   This is also not representative of the population living rough in the downtown.  Since it is a holiday weekend, it is probably one of the smallest number of people sleeping downtown for the year.  We use this as a baseline to compare to previous years since we have counted on the same day of the year for 14 years.   It is not a count of anything but the number of people sleeping downtown on the day after Thanksgiving.   The only big picture that we can say is that the trend of people sleeping downtown is way down compared to 15 years ago.  Why? There are a number of reasons we see so few people living outside in the downtown:

  • Guaranteed access to shelter in Cleveland.  We do not turn people away and the shelters are way better than they were in the 1990s. 
  • A well developed coordinated outreach program with trained professionals regularly building relationships with people who sleep outside. 
  • The introduction of the Metanoia project three years ago for the winter.  They focus on serving those who are resistant to shelter.  They are a drop in center and not a shelter.   They try to encourage people to come inside instead of sleeping outside on the weekends and holidays in the winter.
  • The clean up ambassadors from Downtown Cleveland Alliance are visible and regular presence downtown and they have a social worker who is on the streets interacting with homeless people. It is hard to sleep on the sidewalks if a big vacuum comes down the sidewalk at 6 a.m.
  • Permanent supportive housing have targeted people who have been homeless for long periods of time.  They have housed 500 people over the last six years and try to get people recommended by outreach workers who will never get into housing without the assistance of the PSH.
  • The move of the religious groups away from serving downtown and providing food in a random fashion whenever they had the volunteers.  This often kept people on Public Square, because they had no idea when a church would show up to provide food or clothing. 
  • There are so many more private places to live with the number of abandoned structures in our community.   Why stay outside on a sidewalk when there are 18,000 structures in Cuyahoga County that are sitting empty?

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.