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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.

Entries in outreach (51)

Wednesday
Feb102016

Tuesday Night Meal Is Back!!

We are so happy that the City is allowing the meal.  We had contacted the City of Cleveland for help and the Ministry were on the phone asking everyone they could think of for help. We heard that people connected with the Cleveland Police made this possible.   This is a great service and the women from the shelter appreciate the food so much.  Thank you to Rescuing the Perishing Ministry for the help in serving homeless people.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Thursday
Dec032015

2015 Count Sees Increases Homeless People Downtown

Every year on Black Friday we count the number of homeless people sleeping downtown. By the way, can we change the day after Thanksgiving to Malcolm X Memorial Day instead of naming a day after commercial activities?  We can still call it Black Friday, but just for a different reason.  This year saw a pretty large increase from the three sleeping outside in 2012 to 2014 to eight in 2015. 

It is no where near the dark days of 1998 with 60 people sleeping around the welfare building and on Public Square, but it does reverse a trend from the last three years. It could be an anomaly because of the nicer weather, but I seem to remember 2012 being a warmer Black Friday.  It could be that the larger number of women and families requesting shelter translates to larger numbers outside even though we did not count any women downtown last week.  The longer that a shelter is operated the more people who have a negative experience at that facility and will not go back.  The longer we have 2100 Lakeside as the main shelter for men, the more likely that a low income individual will have some contact with the facility.  They may have stayed there and had their documents stolen or gotten in a physical altercation with another resident.  They may have been disrespected by a staff or a volunteer and may have decided to not return.  We have not seen a radical change in the shelter since 2002-3 when the shelter was taken by a different non-profit and could say, "Give us a try, we have all new management."  The large number of people sleeping on the West Side may view the relative open space downtown as attractive.  Shelter resistant people may be moving back downtown because the West Side is "overcrowded," and they value their solitude.  

In 2013, we detailed some of the reasons for the decrease in the number sleeping downtown as we also talked about those same issues in 2012Here is the 2014 summary of the count.  Much of the success we have seen still exist, but there are some dark clouds on the horizen.  We lost more shelter beds over the last year, and 2016 will see the loss of 82 beds with men's transitional decreasing.  We continue to see a lack of Rapid rehousing funds to meet the demand, long housing waiting lists and a sudden change in the hours for Coordinated Intake causing confusion and longer stays at shelter.  We continue to "divert" people seeking shelter to their cars or the streets.  

I got to talk to Yuri, Kenny, and George but the rest of the folks were asleep.  No one said that they were being harrassed by anyone, which is good.  We gave away many blankets, gloves and socks to the people we met.  We hope that this is just a one off increase, but community leaders should come together to make sure that the tools are in place to prevent this increase from becoming the norm.  This increase is in contrast the rosy picture presented by HUD in September as they announced the results of the faux "complete" counts in January of every year.   We do not want to return to the days when there were dozens of people downtown.  We usually consider this the low number for the winter because it is the holidays and families take their kin in during Thanksgiving.  It was also the time that Mayor White directed the police to start harassing homeless people as the Christmas shopping season started.  

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Wednesday
Apr292015

Denver And Homelessness

The National Coalition for the Homeless met in Denver Colorado for their twice yearly face to face meeting and held a conference on criminalization of homelessness.  Denver is one of the 25 largest cities in America, and has made some progress on homelessness in America, but has a long way to go.  It is the state capital so there are far more resources available in Denver than other Colorado cities, but there are many people sleeping outside.  There is no guaranteed access to shelter like in New York and Cleveland. 

The police regularly ask homeless people to move along, but never answer the question, "to where?"   There are many who travel through Denver to greener pastures.  I met a man who was sleeping outside from Bangor Maine by way of Washington and Chicago who was deciding on whether to stay or move on.  The outreach teams had tried to work with him in his first three weeks in Denver which is more than happens in most cities.  There also seems to be a growing number of people migrating to Denver because of the recreational marijuana, which is a far more expensive of a habit than cigarettes.  Housing is extremely expensive with supply not matching demand.  They have far fewer abandoned properties when compared to most Midwestern cities, but they do exist. 

Denver has many more laws on the books restricting homeless people and a pretty strict panhandling law.  They do have a pretty amazing healthcare for the homeless operation with five clinics, including a brand new clinic attached to their permanent supportive housing project with dental services and a complete pharmacy.  I was impressed with the level of care delivered to homeless people with an attempt to make the healthcare for the homeless clinics a medical home for low income people.  They screen people who come in for mental health issues while they are assessing their physical health needs.  People do not have to make appointments somewhere else and then face other challenges such as timing and transportation.  The new Denver health care for the homeless clinic has a huge and respectful waiting area and a seamless process to apply for housing once they have sought healthcare assistance. 

In Cleveland, most of the services are built around the shelters and even with Coordinated intake those staying at shelter are easiest to find and usually get access before those waiting on the streets.  In Denver, the system seems to be centered around health care as the first point of contact for most.  Those without housing seem to look healthier than I have seen in the Midwest or the East Coast.  I don’t know if this is from the amount of walking necessary in western cities or the number of farm and domestic workers among the homeless population.  Transportation is much more accessible in Denver when compared to Cleveland but not like DC, NYC or Boston. 

Denver is a clean city, but about three times the number of people sleeping outside compared to Cleveland.  There are no where near the numbers of people living outside as Washington DC, San Francisco or Boston.  There were a number of grassroots organizations helping to provide a voice to those living in shelters or on the streets.  There was not a real advocacy Coalition focused on the needs of homeless people and providing input to government or the social service community.   This is not unusual for a capital city where advocacy groups get overshadowed by the State Coalitions and all the money and resources goes to state efforts.  There is not the tradition to organizing in union cities like Cleveland, Philadelphia and Chicago.  So, there is not a strong tenant association or commitment to organizing low income residents of the city. 

They are making progress and have built large numbers of affordable housing units reserved for homeless people.  They have permanent supportive housing for families which most cities have not found the ability to fund.  They are working on funding a law enforcement diversion program which is supposed to save the city money over incarceration.  Finally, there are horror movie scary Mimes performing in Downtown Denver, which is unsettling, but at least they are not dressed as clowns. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Tuesday
Apr072015

Donations Still Needed

We made it through the horrible winter.  We had a report of one person suffering from frost bite and losing fingers, but no reports of people freezing to death.  We have to thank Community West Foundation for helping with all the donations and helping with putting people into motels during the extreme weather.  It was tough, but outreach teams, St. Pauls, Labre and Metanoia did a ton of work keeping people safe.  

It is spring and still a dangerous time.  Hypothermia is still a threat because people get wet and then it gets cold at night.  They may have prepared for the winter and the snow, and may let their guard down for the spring.  They may not have as many blankets or plastic or clothing as they had for the winter.  We are still collecting and distributing items. We have updated our flyer for the spring and that is available to print out and distribute. We give out items to the outreach teams every week. 

Flyer to print out and distribute

Friday
Mar272015

Teach In Last Week on the Importance of Outreach

We had a really nice open house at Winton on Lorain last week to see how wonderful these units are for the community.  We had presentations by EDEN and Frontline Services and many of the outreach workers in the community.  The highlight of the evening was with Roy and Mike talked about moving from the streets into housing.  They both talked about the importance of Jim Schlecht for helping to find their way into housing. 

County Council persons Dale Miller and Yvonne Conwell both attended to hear about this critical resource in the community.  Both Roy and Mike spent years on the streets, both turned to alcohol or drugs to cope and both were able to make it through a year of recovery. Winton on Lorain is right next to the VA transitional housing program, and that corner near the freeway has dramatically approved over the last 10 years. 

It was quite an education provided by Toni Johnson and Denise Toth who spoke about how valuable outreach is in the community.  They talked about building trusting relationships and not giving up on the people outside.  All the outreach teams talked about the difficult times many of these guys have in finding help.  The guys talked about the huge hills they had to climb to get back into housing.  We will have the next Teach In during the lunch hour and hopefully others will be able to attend. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.