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The Cleveland Street Chronicle
Jim Schlecht Event

Cleveland and Cuyahoga County Homelessness

Current Overview of Issues Facing the Community

  • We operate overflow for single men and families for the majority of the year. The Women’s shelter is extremely overcrowded every day in Cleveland, and we have no facility for pregnant women.
  • We have far fewer number of beds for those fleeing a domestic violence situation compared to surrounding cities, especially single women fleeing violence.
  • We do not have a year round overnight drop in center for those who choose not to use shelter.
  • We do not have enough detox spaces and too often addicted people get lost in the shelter system.
  • Cleveland lost 444 beds of shelter because of funding priority changes at HUD since 2004 and 328 during the Obama Administration.
  • We do not have an effective method for the distribution of information about the homeless population including when there are spikes or weather events that could harm the population.
  • There is little assistance for those marginally housed in danger of becoming homeless and legal assistance is spotty. We do not do enough to help people with debt issues or re-entry issues for homeless people.
  • There are no longer shelters where mentally ill men and women can find specialized care without being taken advantage of by other homeless people using the shelters.
  • We do not have a seamless system for helping homeless people find jobs or income.
  • We do not have a way to provide legal assistance to prevent evictions, help with employment disputes or tackle administrative legal needs in family court like child support, child custody or other family law questions. We cannot provide legal help to the thousands needing a divorce and we cannot offer legal help with crushing debt issues.

It is Not All Bad News...Current Successes

  • Foreclosures have been at a steady decline since a high in 2007 and in 2015 were down by almost 20% from the year before.
  • We have a model national program for getting children back into school when their family becomes homeless in the Cleveland Public Schools Project ACT program.
  • Despite a small uptick in 2015, Cleveland has significantly reduced the number of people who sleep outside downtown since opening 2100 Lakeside Shelter and building 600 units of Permanent Supportive housing.  There is a growing population on the West Side of Cleveland that we need to address.
  • Cleveland has a central point of access for all shelters and attempts to not turn people away if they need a place to sleep. We also try to find help for those with multiple barriers to shelter including those with a mental illness without screening out the hardest to serve.
  • We are one of the few cities that still funds and embraces homeless outreach locally to build trusting relationships and minimize the number of people who die on the streets. 
  • All of the homeless social service providers make a commitment to registering and helping homeless people participate in the democratic process with voting and helping to get people to the polling places. 
  • We have all the tools locally for success including a housing group focused on fragile populations (EDEN Inc.) and a regularly updated website of all the affordable housing (HousingCleveland.org) and a comprehensive telephone referral source (211 First Call for Help)
  • Cleveland has reduced homelessness among veterans by over two-thirds in the last five years.  This is a huge victory that is a roadmap for how to solve homelessness with other populations.
  • We have a model program to distribute identification to those in need which is often the ticket to housing, a job or healthcare. 
  • The County has worked dilligently to provide trained individuals to assist low income people complete their taxes and be able to receive the Earned Income Tax Credit.
  • With the Place4Me Coalition focusing on homeless youth locally, we have done a great deal to reduce the number of people going from foster care to homelessness.  We have also constructed a nice system to move young people out of homelessness into housing with the 100 Youth Challenge.