Goals of NEOCH 2014 to 2015
NEOCH will serve as an advocate for the creation of a Cuyahoga County Housing Trust Fund and funding for a National Housing Trust Fund. These two funds will provide funding to create and preserve affordable housing within the community. NEOCH is working to expand the affordable housing website, HousingCleveland.org to become a statewide website HousingOhio.org. We will continue to push the County to pass any kind of legislation to set minimum standards for the shelters. NEOCH also will support legislation for across the board mandatory reduction in principals for home owners in the United States. We will work with the Homeless Congress to develop a pilot project to turn abandoned house over to skilled tradesmen living in the shelters. NEOCH believes that educating tenants about their rights and intervening with assistance to those facing eviction can reduce the number of people who enter shelters.
NEOCH supports efforts to expand the state and federal hate crimes definition to include crimes against homeless people -- and increases the penalty for such crimes. NEOCH intends to continue to work for an expansion of voting rights to as many voters as possible. NEOCH will continue to sponsor resident councils and the Homeless Congress as a way to organize homeless people, and it pledges continued support of legislation that will provide more funding for homeless people and programs — contributing to high quality and safer shelters. Check out Advocacy alerts in the area of Civil Rights. We have also put together an agenda for policy issues at the State of Ohio level. We have added a page on the distribution of food compromise in order to avoid legislation to restrict access to food by the City of Cleveland. Appoint an officer from the Cleveland Police Department to act as a liaison to the homeless community in order to receive complaints about hate crimes and build a trusting relationship with social service providers and those resistant to shelter. NEOCH would recommend eliminating fake law enforcement protections that restict where a sexually based offender can reside after they have fulfilled their jail sentence.
Educating the Public/Dispelling Myths
NEOCH will invite elected government officials to visit local shelters and attend Homeless Congress meetings and continue our sponsorship of the Street Voices Speakers’ Bureau. NEOCH will work to schedule meetings with Ohio state senators and representatives to encourage support of the national advocacy agenda. NEOCH will continue to raise awareness about the state of the housing crisis so that our elected officials can better understand and solve the problem of homelessness. NEOCH also strongly encourages homeless participation in voting and participating in democracy.
NEOCH supports implementation of the new health care law to maximize coverage for those experiencing homelessness, and advocate for the creation of programs such as U.S. Health Department Continuum of Care Program. NEOCH would like to see Medicaid for all as an alternative to an insurance based health system, but certainly support expanded Medicaid to low income populations. This program should provide essential services to the homeless in the Department of Health and Human Services. We will work to involve health care institutions in the care and stabilization of homeless people in order to reduce repeated trips to the emergency room. NEOCH will advocate that addiction services be treated as health conditions rather than criminal offenses, and that we fund universal access to treatment.
NEOCH will create a pilot project to allow those with skills to earn money or start businesses as they transition out of homelessness, transforming the shelters into employment centers. NEOCH will expand our vendor program for the Cleveland Street Chronicle to include uniforms and better access to more permanent employment. NEOCH would like to work with the City of Cleveland to pass legislation to oversee the temporary labor companies and assure that they pay their employees the minimum wage. Many charge improper fees that drive wages below the minimum wage. There needs to be a strong local office that can protect workers and receive complaints of wage violations.
Strategies to End Homelessness
NEOCH has worked with homeless people over the last 15 years to develop strategies to end homelessness. Here is an agenda we have developed. We have an overview of the problems with people sleeping downtown here. We also have suggestions for how to deal with the panhandling problem locally. We are interested in working to create a virtual furniture bank for those who are moving from homelessness back into housing. We also believe that expanding access to attorneys for those in danger of being homeless and those currently homeless especially to defend against domestic issues can reduce homelessness.
Things We Can All Do to End Homelessness
NEOCH has some suggestions for what to do about homelessness. Here is a version of our suggestions on the website. Here is a .pdf version to use at meetings or distribution: Things we can all do to address the affordable housing crisis. If you are a student or student group we have a flyer to use to discuss volunteer activities for students here. Even volunteering to serve homeless people is a big help. We have many ideas on our website for volunteering to end homelessness here. We are constructing a network of faith based institutions who are working to end homelessness in Cuyahoga County. This network of religious organizations will work to keep families together and never turn away any family from shelter. We have set up a page to give more details on the issue and what your congregation can do to help.