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The Cleveland Street Chronicle
Jim Schlecht Event

House of Payne Problems: According to the Residents

The Community Women's Shelter on Payne Ave. has been troubled for years under multiple managers and agencies.  It was always overcrowded, and there were always many different populations in one space. We have regularly presented these issues to the County and Frontline Services.   The shelter was named after a former resident, but with the conditions at the facility we are not sure that it honors her legacy to call the shelter using her name. We have posted these concerns for two years on the NEOCH website and distributed them at meetings.   The bottom line overall message is the senior shelter staff do not believe the women, do not take the opinions of the residents seriously, and there is no incentive to make a change at the shelter.  They are in a difficult position because the shelter is so overcrowded that it is nearly ungovernable. 

  1. Bathrooms are regularly backed up by residents, and they regularly run out of supplies in the evening.  Staff are reluctant to get supplies and are unwilling to allow residents to use cleaning supplies. 
  2. Grievance process is broken and there is rarely a response.
  3. Laundry room is chaotic and rules are not followed.
  4. Regular bed bug problems.
  5. Food is a huge issue which could go on for pages. There is a problem with not ordering enough food for the crowd.  This would be a bigger problem if the food was better.
  6. The basement is dangerous, dark and scary now that they moved beds down there.
  7. The renovations that took place in 2016 were not suitable for high traffic congregate living facility.
  8. Staff do not seem to forward complaints or maintenance requests up the chain.
  9. The staff is for the most part rude, mean and inconsiderate.  The majority of the staff is careless with the mail or may be stealing it.
  10. There never seems to be any punishment for the staff changing the rules or not enforcing the rules or not breaking up fights.
  11. Woman’s shelter does not serve vegetarian food.
  12. Elderly and disabled are not prioritized for a bed and can spend months sleeping on the floor.
  13. Staff does not respect or follow a doctors order for bed rest.
  14. Waited six months to get a housing plan or even to see a housing specialist.
  15. There was no help to reunite my family or even work to reunite with my husband at 2100 Lakeside.
  16. There are lots of facility issues including the shelter is always cold in the winter and all of these are even more complicated with the renovations causing some floors or to close down.  The dryers are regularly breaking and take weeks to fix or repair.
  17. Mail delivery is regularly a problem with lost mail or long delays.
  18. Staff favoritism is a huge issue. 
  19. The rules regularly change and residents are not informed until they violate these rules.  Nothing is ever done in writing from the staff.
  20.  Mentally ill people are treated with a level of disrespect by staff and are not protected by staff against exploitation and bullying behavior.
  21. There is a lot of violence in the shelter and staff do little to de-escalate the tension.  Staff puts people out only for those who are favorites.
  22. Staff regularly use “downsizing” of belongings as punishment. There is a lot of favoritism at the shelter.
  23. No one has ever explained to the residents why trans women stay at the shelter and how the residents who have no experience with this issue adjust to this new reality.  There is no privacy at the shelter and the residents have regularly asked for meetings about this issue.
  24.  Staff does not encourage outside groups to come in and volunteer or bring donations to the shelter.
  25.  The staff does not protect women’s safety.  They do not intervene or call security.  It seems the staff does not want to be bothered and just ignores the fights.
  26. The staff does not take complaints about theft or follow up with these concers.
  27. Security kicks everyone out involved even if the client is the victim and is beaten by another resident.  Security regular threatens the women with discharge for infractions of the rules that do not involve criminal matters.
  28. Clients are regularly concerned about retaliation and cannot stand how the staff humiliate them in front of guests who come into the shelter for meals.
  29. Residents after 12 years are allowed to bring in food to eat in the cafeteria.  This is helpful to the diabetics, but the food served should still be more sensitive to those with special diets. 
  30. The staff are not very good at holding food for those who work or are in school until the evening.
  31. The previous security company had a guard who was taking women home and another threatened the residents with a Taser.
  32. The staff behaves like bullies.
  33. Some residents are not comfortable around men because of abuse issues in their past and there is no one to talk to about these issues.
  34. Staff keeps doing room checks and throw away my belongings including medicine.  Residents claim that if someone reviewed the behavior of staff on the security tapes, there would be many fired.
  35. There is usually no alternative for those who do not eat pork.
  36.  People should be able to stay in shelter during the day to get help with housing and jobs.
  37. The shower curtains are not regularly cleaned.  The bathrooms are not cleaned enough.
  38.   They are not consistent with rules.  Resident claims that they leave for one night and staff takes away their assigned bed.  There is never any explanation for the varied enforcement of the rules.
  39. All grievances filed are not following what was printed in the procedure book and they do not respond to the grievances in writing as is required.  It has taken months to get a response.
  40. There is not enough hot water for so many people.
  41. They do not label the food so residents don’t know what it is they are eating.  They do not post the menu which is good because the menu rarely matches what is actually served. 
  42. Hygiene items do not make it to residents.
  43. There is no computer access to search for housing and jobs. 
  44. No one has ever explained why the women have to wake up really early on the weekend.
  45.  The back courtyard is filthy.
  46. There is a regular concern that donation do not get to the residents.
  47. Staff do not follow the discharge policy by offering the chance for a grievance to be heard before the punishment is enforced.
  48. They also put people out until 9 pm and do not consider that a discharge even though it results in the person missing a dinner.
  49. There is no way for residents to voice their concerns and complaints.  There is no resident council that has an independent observer who can protect against retaliation.
  50.  A resident with asthma and they don’t keep the shelter clean and we are not allowed to use the cleaning products or tools.
  51. The staff is not providing the assistance needed to help people leave the shelter.
  52. Male employees do not announce themselves when they are in the bedroom area with women undressing.
  53. There is not enough care for the elderly and disabled to find alternative places to live in our community.  Many are put on the floor and just forgotten.
  54. Those with a mental illness are not well served in the shelter and routinely get into conflicts with other residents.
  55. The staff does not have the training needed to deal with the clients in a non-violent manner.  They also do not have training on resources that exist in the community in order to make useful referrals. The staff have told residents that they cannot offer housing until the individuals have stayed in the shelter for one year.
  56. There are no activities between 6-8 pm and the place is out of control.  There is not even a television to keep people occupied.
  57. Overall, administrative staff do not trust the women at the shelter, and everything that they say is a lie.
  58. We are never sure that our grievances are being read by senior administration.
  59. With so many residents what do we do about comfort animals and those residents who have an allergy to dogs or are terrified of dogs?
  60. There are regular problems with the heating in the winter and air conditioning in the summer.
  61. There is no clear policy for the distribution of bus passes, and it seems as only those who are staff favorites get the bus passes.
  62. Regular theft of medicine within the shelter.
  63. There is a severe lack of storage for the women and a huge push to downsize a resident’s belongings.
  64. There are too many people who come into the shelter drunk or high and cause disturbances.
  65. Overall feel of the shelter from the front door to the meals to the curfew make the facility feel more like a prison rather than a place to recover and repair a resident’s life.

Click here to return to the House of Payne home page

A History of the NEOCH Work on the Women's Shelter

Solutions to the Problems at the Shelter