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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 shelter resistant (20)

Saturday
Dec242016

St. Paul's Hope for the Homeless

This picture came from Rev. Doug Horner at St. Paul's Community Church on Franklin Blvd.  There are a number of people like "Mark" who stays outside and no matter what we do will not go inside.  He is reluctant to accept any charity, but he is not a threat to himself.  This is a temporary solution that the West Side folks came up with to keep these shelter resistant folks alive.  According to Rev. Horner, "The thought behind it being this:  sometimes we can’t pass policies, or make a wave of change that helps the most vulnerable. But we can make a difference one person at a time. This small passive energy home is so well insulated that body heat will keep a person warm inside."

Here is a photo of the crew and the new “sleeping pod” - located Greater Old Brooklyn neighborhood; out in the woods on the edge of a dirt bike trail, on the edge of a vacant lot near a construction site. Thanks to the Corrado family for generously giving time, talent and money to make this a reality.  Thanks to Casey for his shop space.  Thanks to Lucy for her carpentry and patience as we laid it all out. Thanks to Tyrone the outreach worker for coordinating this effort...Just 4 days and tons of labor hours by volunteers and stipend workers with St. Paul’s. 

"Mark" has been living in a lean to for years, and there are a few others who live in the neighborhood.  Many of these guys have been hassled, beat up, frozen, etc.  They regularly hangs out at a nearby fast food place.  "Mark" is always the first one in in the morning, and all the staff know him.  A few people visit "Mark" regularly, like the volunteers from Ignatius, Labre and Care Alliance who travel around with food and blankets. 

"Mark" again was reluctant to accept charity, and didn’t want the house.  The volunteers pictured above set it up nearby anyway.  It is a temporary solution that will probably need to be moved in the Spring when construction season starts.  If you like the idea, you can donate the $500 to St. Paul's for the materials or you could volunteer to help construct the next one.  It is hoped that this is a way to build a trusting relationship with some of these guys to move them along to stability.  It is a hope to keep a person alive while we work through some of his issues, fears and suspicions. 

Thanks to all the volunteers at St. Paul's Community Church for building and moving this unit to help "Mark"

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Wednesday
Nov182015

Indy is a Messed Up Place For Homeless People

I got to see a copy of this documentary last month, and it is pretty amazing.  If you are in DC in December, I highly recommend this film.  It makes you glad you live in a more advanced community that does not disrespect its poor population compared to Cleveland.  The film is like a documentary version of Brazil or Naked Lunch where the City of Indianapolis puts unreasonable and unbelievable restrictions on these encampments.  "Go to shelter, but there are not enough shelter beds and you can only stay for a week."  We do not have the level of outdoor homeless population as they have in Indy and we certainly don't have these large scale tent cities.   This is a nice portrait of what happens if you follow the HUD plan to close transitional shelters, focus on very specific populations and de-fund all the supportive services in a community. Check it out.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Monday
Sep142015

"Fear The Walking Dead" Needs a Homeless Guy

 AMC's Walking Dead television series is set in Georgia and now Virginia.  The series is the aftermath of the downfall of organized society and after the fall of the government.  One of the key interesting figures of the series is one of the two stars, Norman Reedus.  He is a self described Georgian redneck named Daryl Dixon from a rural section of the state, petty thief and racist.  He is the guy who is an expert with the cross bow and seems to have the DNA necessary to survive the Zombie Apocalypse.  He was a wandering, hate filled couch surfer without a real job who could fix things and was a good hunter, but otherwise had no real skills for modern society.  After the world fell into chaos, he seemed perfectly suited for a place where you migrate for food and survival of the fittest is the law of the land. 

The series has a new spinoff that takes place in the City of Los Angeles.  The new series is pre-apocalypse and for anyone who has seen the Walking Dead, they cycle through a lot of characters.  Many many people die on the show including individuals who have leading roles.  So, at this point it is not clear who will be the main characters who survive.  I hope that they find a character like Daryl for Los Angeles.  I am nominating a character from Skid Row to provide some education to the general population of the amazing things that homeless people have to overcome in this society to survive.  Most people think of the "bums" on Skid Row as lazy non-conformists who don't want to get a job.  From hanging out with homeless people in Cleveland, I can say that they go through incredible hardships to survive and believe that they would do well in the Zombie apocalypse. 

Homeless people have to walk great distances for food.  They have to figure out who can be helpful and who is going to harm them or steal from them.  Homeless people stay largely to themselves and are able to find privacy in the public world that they live in.  They are really good at getting important information from the streets and who to lean on for what they need.  All these skills would be great at the end of orderly society.  Daryl brings a lot of character to the Walking Dead and homeless people from Skid Row could bring the new show Fear the Walking Dead some interest.  We also feel that it would dispel some of the myths about homelessness.  There are enough homeless people in Los Angeles to survive the Zombie apocalypse. There are just about the same size as the City of Toledo living in the shelters or on the streets of LA every night. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

 

Tuesday
Nov182014

Jim Skerl at St. Ignatius Constructed a Program to Befriend the Forgotten

As we start the winter season when our focus switches to keeping people warm, we remember the founder of the Labre Project locally, Jim Skerl.  The Plain Dealer did a nice job in remembering this amazing teacher from St. Ignatius High School with a series of articles including a nice piece by Terry Pluto

West Side Catholic, which is right across the street from St. Ignatius, expressed their grief over the loss of Skerl:

Words cannot adequately express the community’s sadness over the loss of Jim Skerl , teacher at St. Ignatius.  Mr. Skerl impacted so many in the community through his work with L’Arche and as the founder of the Saint Benedict Joseph Labre Ministry to the Homeless and the St. Joseph of Arimathea Pallbearers Society.  His legacy lives on in the lives of those he touched – including mine.

We have to remember the revolutionary nature of the Labre Project.  In a time of fear of everything and lawsuits, Jim was able to figure out a way for young energetic students to go outside to meet with those resistant to shelter where they live.  He convinced concerned parents of the value of the program first as a way to deliver food to the streets, but the program quickly evolved into a way to build friends with those living outside.  These young people first at Ignatius now at John Carroll and CWRU go out and deliver food, clothing and winter items to those often forgotten by society.  With this extending a helping hand, they listen and hear from the population.  The build a bond that extends after a person gets into housing.  They provide the most powerful weapon against homelessness in listening and treating people with respect.

These students know what is happening on the streets of Cleveland.  They know who is staying outside and they are often the first people homeless people meet when they move out of their housing.  They can often link them to "professional" outreach workers at the agencies.   These students are talking to these guys and treating them with compassion no matter their mistakes or human faults.  The Labre Project helps move people to get off the streets.   It keeps people safe while they are living without housing. Finally, it gives the students a lifelong desire to incorporate community service into their daily life.  They graduate realizing that their volunteer efforts helped the community and they want to do more. 

We will miss this quiet revolutionary from the near West Side of Cleveland.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Sunday
Oct122014

CWRU Students Sue City of Akron over Homeless Policies

The City of Akron has never been good about taking care of homeless people.  They have the worst laws for panhandlers in the State of Ohio.  They have very few shelter options and they do not guarantee access to a shelter bed.  This means that if the shelters are full, homeless people must sleep on the streets.  Last week, we found out from a group of CWRU student law students that Akron Police were moving homeless people out and then throwing away their valuables. 

Eleven homeless people living outside in Akron allege that the Akron Police were stealing and discarding valuables from homeless people.  The lawsuit claims that the Akron Police under the direction of City officials would raid their campsites and then throw away tents, clothing, medicine directly to the City landfill.

The Akron Police claim that they did give proper notice and that most of the items taken were drug paraphernalia and other contraband.  According to the Plain Dealer, the police claim that they acted properly.  Personal property is held in high regard in the State of Ohio, and so government has to go to great lengths to hold personal property in a secure manner.  A person can go to prison for 25 years and government must keep their property safe and return it to them upon release.  To dispose of forgotten property governments must issue a public notice and provide sufficient time to retrieve these items.  A landlord must ask the court to dispose of a tenant's belongings if they disappear.  The lawsuit claims that the City government did not secure their belongings after confiscating them, and the personal property was taken directly to the trash. 

In nearly every case going through the courts, when a City throws away the belongings of homeless people they have to pay. I know that in Miami, Chicago and a number of cities in California were all forced to compensate homeless people for the loss of their valuables.  I can't see how this is going to end any differently for the City of Akron.  In Cleveland, we fought this all through the 1990s with settlements that provided homeless people $3,000 for picking them up and dumping them on the outskirts of town, and then we settled on an agreement between the City and homeless people in 2000 in a case called Key vs. City of Cleveland that police will not harrass homeless people living outside for purely innocent behavior.

The bigger issue for residents of Akron is that when cities start targeting homeless people we see an increase in hate crimes against the population.  When government gives the go-ahead to treat homeless people as lesser citizens, there are disturbed people who take that signal as open season on torturing, attacking and becoming violent with fragile people living outside.  Unfortunately, these are mostly young people who terrorize people living under bridges or in abandoned property.  We know that these laws and police sweeps lead to feelings of betrayal and abandonment by the population and it only keeps people homeless for a longer period of time.  This will not reduce the population, but will do the opposite.  We explore what Akron should do to reduce the number of people sleeping outside in a future post.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Post Script:  The CWRU Observer did a good summary of the case published this last week.  (One note, Brian is no longer Executive Director of NEOCH.  He is a community organizer, but the story is still sound.)