Find Help

The Cleveland Street Chronicle
Jim Schlecht Event

Questions for Mr. Morse and Ms. Murray from Council Members

Watch on YouTube

Chairman Jones

Jones: Let me ask, how often do you or have you met with NEOCH?

Eric: We’ve met with NEOCH a couple of times, I’d say it’s been a while.  Brian does directly send the complaints that come to him to me and I personally oversee the investigation of those complaints. And then he gets a response as well as the person who made the complaints,  you know, there is a long history of when working with Brian can sometimes not be the most productive and so that’s why we chose to go directly to the women we serve instead of having a third party which is why we met with 57 women, it’s certainly more women that attend the homeless congress, it’s more woman than are here today so we wanted to get a very large representative sample of the experience of being at the shelter.

Jones: So as I try to wrap my mind around what is going on and what’s happening my first thoughts are,  Are you all playing nice together? Working together? And if it’s not that doesn’t always happen, it doesn’t mean you have to, but are we still being effective at what you are doing.  There’s a difference between the director of Homeless Services providing effective work or not being responsive and an advocate who is effectively doing their job….but sometimes fighting a good cause but not always using the best tactics, those things are not just happening in homeless services but are happening in every other element of county government that we have to focus on, so we have to ferret through what is going on, so I’ll leave it at that and allow you to finish.

Eric: I do want to echo as Brian stated that there are many initiatives we do work on together, very effectively, including voter registration and our outreach initiatives and we are grateful for the support NEOCH gives to those.  In closing, we continue to listen closely to the concerns of those utilizing the shelter and strive to improve services.   In doing so we recognize that we walk a fine line in our desire to offer a welcoming and warm environment.  This is just what it is to run a shelter, walking a fine line between a welcoming and warm environment and maintaining safe, secure shelter to those with a variety of needs.  As Ruth said, and I think as Brian said, anyone is welcome in our shelter and so we have to manage to that and when we do there are some people who are unhappy and some people who are very happy and we try our best ultimately to provide a safe environment for people.

Jones: Thank you….Any comments we don’t want to take too much more time of this committee and the upcoming committee, Council, Mr. Chair?

Councilwoman Conwell

Ms. Conwell: I have a couple questions, things that were stated, how do you deal with the medication distribution?

Eric: To the chair, to Councilwoman Conwell, we cannot hold peoples medications, we are not a licensed residential facility it would be a violation of state law to hold people’s medications. We do note that people have medications, we provide them with a bag to store their medications in their own belongings, but that’s what we do with medications.

Ms. Conwell: Also, if you could provide this committee with what is the longest staying female at the shelter currently?  How long that, we don’t have to know the person’s name or anything like that, just how long has that person been there?

Eric: I would estimate 12 years

Ms Conwell: Ok, And where are we with hiring the new staff? How far along are we in that process?

Eric: We have hired the specialist positions and we are in the finals stages in hiring the case managers.

Ms. Conwell: And were you aware of the homeless congress 1 year that they gave?

Eric: Not that I recall, LaTonya goes to those meetings.

LaTonya: I think I do remember that conversation.

Ms. Conwell: Ok, so your recollection of that, meaning that by September whatever the date is, if  the grievances haven’t been met or acted upon that they will advocate for someone another contract provider?  Is that your understanding?

LaTonya: I believe so, I attend a lot of the meetings, and the tone in a lot of meetings by the end of a lot of meetings is just that, so it does I recall them specifically saying a year but I often leave feeling that’s the agenda, that’s the focus is to find another provider. 

Ms. Conwell: Just to my knowledge we always that ask in committee of director Gillett, how many people bid on the contract?  Just for the audience to know, no one else bid on the contract which means that no one else wants to do this work.  So as we move forward as a community. We must also keep that in mind we don’t want to ever get in a situation that, that we don’t have anyone that wants to provide that work.  I am not saying that we can’t work together to fix the issues that occur.  In any household everybody, even here, we have to work and negotiate and compromise on things. So just keep that in your forefront, that is a question we always ask, how many people bid on the contracts?  And LMM doesn’t want to deal or hasn’t bid on the female contracts so I don’t see that as a possibility or a future right now. And so just keep that in your mindset.  Going forward and there are always... Ms. Lu always comes, she’s our regular, she comes and fights and advocates for you guys and 1:00 every 8 days after council.  I don’t know what the dates are so you are always welcome to come to this forum, speak, feel empowered to present whatever the issues are, and believe it or not, no matter how minute that is, we go to Ms. Levine over there and make her follow up and get an opinion, so your voice does matter, and that is all I wanted to say.

Councilman Miller

Pernel Jones: Councilman Miller

Miller: Mr. Chairman to Mr. Morse can you provide any insight on the question that I asked that got referred from Ms. Gillette?

Eric: To the Chairman, to Councilman Miller, yes, You are correct that both alcohol and illegal substances are not allowed on the property, again, this is a balance of you know we don’t want to put women through a process where they feel like they are being searched every time they walk into the building but if we do find drugs or alcohol on site and we can tie it to an individual there that is one of the instances where we will discharge someone.  It’s not tolerated.  People who do use, who come into our facility we do allow people to come in as long as they can maintain behavioral control we feel like that’s the best and most compassionate thing to do that’s when people are at most risk.

Miller: Agreed, thank you

Councilman Schron

Jones: Councilman

Schron: Thank you. It was asked by Ms. Gillette whether she got this list of 4 items, did you get this list of 4? Now it sounds like generally you get a list at different times.  Were you given this specific piece of paper we were given?

Eric: To the chair person, to councilman Schron, No sir we weren’t

Schron:  Let’s just pick off a couple. One of them sounds though it should not be questioned as far as is every discharge done in writing? 

Eric:  To my knowledge, yes, that is our policy.

Schron: No, no no that wasn’t….

Eric: Yes,

LaTonya, Yes,

Eric: Yes

Schron: Yes, is a different answer than that is our policy

LaTonya: I would like to yes every discharge is done in writing, what I have experienced is that some people leave before we actually hand them the documentation

Schron: That is a different story.

LaTonya: Yes, we, right, yes

Schron: You make every attempt, it’s in writing so you can document that you actually did the writing?

LaTonya: And we understand that that was a complaint before and we have tightened up our policy around that so that’s one think we worked to address

Schron: So we have universal agreement of one of 4 right off the bat, we haven’t even left the room yet. Ok. What does the national standards recommend for your ratio? You said you are currently at 3 for 160 you are going to 1 for 40.  What is the national standard for this?

Eric: I am not sure there is a national standard for emergency shelter, I think for high needs individuals for those with disabilities who are homeless we would look at a ratio of 1 to 20 would be ideal ratio

Schron: Does the contract speak to this? Do we know, does the contract speak to how many people, do you know?

Eric: No it does not

Schron: Ok, You perform services period.

Eric: It does describe the services we will provide but

Schron: Yeah, yeah, but it does not say with 40 to 1, 30 to 1, 20 to 1 which is…. Ok.  Because I assume on the flip side on your business model you do have it programmed with how many people are being providing those services so you can do a cost benefit and analysis, I’ve got I believe your model.  How many does your model have in it when you quoted this project?

LaTonya:  laughing and chuckling.

Eric: You know I think our original proposal to run the women’s shelter is significantly higher than it is today.  I couldn’t give you, it’s been a few years since we worked that out.  I think ideally we would like 5 to 6 case managers given that there is quite a number of women who enter the shelter who are able to get themselves out in 7 days without any help.  They have a housing crisis and they are able to resolve it and get out. So we do think that with 5-6 case mgrs. we can handle the need and with the new funding from county council we will be at that ratio.

Schron: Ok, so you are going to get your performance in that ratio of 1-20 which is what you said was ideal?

Eric: If we serve everyone in the shelter it would be 1-40, if we focus our efforts on those who need the most case management yes we can get down to 1-20

Schron:  Ok, is turn a problem?  We heard from Mr. Davis that staff is tough to keep and retain on a consistent basis for the last 3 months. Is that a?

Eric: I don’t believe there has been an increase, amount of turn overall the organization the turnover is around 17% per year which I think is pretty typical for a nonprofit.  The staff at Norma Herr has been relatively stable and we did just hire a bunch of, several new staff given the additional funding.

Schron: ok, and then, The chair referenced is always nice if people play nice in the sandbox together, the operative word there is together, so it just seems to me if we are on our 3rd provider of this service as Ms. Conwell just pointed out, we don’t have a we don’t have a whole lot of people who are bidding on this, so I really hope it works out, the sandbox, cuz otherwise we could have a real challenge on our hands too if nobody wants to step up to this responsibility, so I hope that we can work it out. One out of 4 not bad for walking in the room, so let’s see if we can get the other 2 out of 3

Eric: Well, Actually all of those are already current policy.  All of the requests from Brian today are things that we do with the exception of our timeline for getting back to someone who initiates a grievance is 20 days, and that is because we are a very large agency.  We have one clients rights officer, we serve over 20,000 people a year and so we have a lot of complaints, we are certainly willing to look at shortening that timeframe for Norma Herr, especially given that how important it is to get back to someone regarding a grievance at when you are living in a shelter.

Schron:  Well just as a business person, I would hope that you are not going to transfer your obligations for firing or hiring or transferring.  That is ultimately managements responsibility, you have to make that call, you might not do a good job of it, but that is only a recommendation that it seems to me you can never give up that obligation.

Eric: No

Schron: Thanks

Chairman Jones

Jones: Ok thank you for the presentation. Thank everyone who came out today.  Everyone’s comments were greatly appreciated.  We are always open, but I will say this.  We can’t have the tail wag the dog and what I mean by that is, the things that were brought today , was presented has not been shared with some of the, the office, director of homeless services.  To bring this to us and I’m seeing that it’s not yet been shared with the directors. That means we are not working together as we should just yet. So let’s continue to do that, that has to happen.  We hold the director accountable, we are certainly going to hold those that we award accountable.  Also the advocates, they have to be held accountable as well.  We have many areas where we have strong advocates, some that are not great advocate and those in between.  Ok, we have to hold everyone accountable, and from my position we want to make sure that we deliver services to those that are homeless and the only way to do that is if everyone is working together.  So, This was never meant to be a he said, she said, but simply allow everyone to speak, to get it out, put it on our brain and this council, this committee has been one that has been very interested in homeless services, and councilwoman Conwell has been one who has physically along with myself and others, but councilwoman Conwell who has gone out and been present , been present, and it doesn’t need all 11 necessary to go, but when you have 1 representing us, we stay fully informed.  So this forum again is always open to you, but again I say let’s all continue to work together to deliver this critical service and again, I thank you all for coming out.  Is there any miscellaneous business?  If not, Chrissy is anyone signed in for any comment unrelated to our agenda?

Chrissy: Yes, Mr. Chair, first Ms. Irene Collins

Go back to the navigation

Go to last section: Other Comments