2012 Homeless Stand Down: A Good Day

Commentary by William

The Homeless Stand Down was a good day for all who came.  There was something for everyone ranging from meals, medical, dental screenings, housing referrals and many other services that were made available to all in need throughout our community. It was a wonderful day when so many people came out to show their love by giving time and serving those in need.  There was such a spirit of hope present at the Homeless Stand Down. This could be seen in the smiles and heard in the voices of many who were able to see a doctor for the first time in years. The service providers were very giving and uplifting in a non-judgmental attitude.  It helped people to feel good about themselves.  Those who were guests of the Stand Down had access to employment experts, housing assistance, and medical coverage.  There was a lot of support for both individuals and family.

I would like to say thank all those who attended this day including vendors, care providers and folks from the community at large.  The volunteers in attendance were very kind and thoughtful toward everyone. It is through the sharing of positive values and our love for life that we may create and bring about conditions which are acceptable and pleasing to us all.  

Thanks to the Plain Dealer for the nice article about the event, and most of all thanks for HandsOn Northeast Ohio for all their work on this event.  Our long time partner, InterAct Cleveland, went out of business, and HandsOn Northeast Ohio took on all the responsibilities of this critical event.  This is the 20th year for the City of Cleveland to feature an all day service fair for veterans and non-veterans in the same facility on the same day.  Cleveland was the first city to expand the Stand Down to include non-veterans in the early 1990s.  Stand Down is a military term for a period of rest away from the battlefield.  The Stand Down originated in San Diego as a day in which every part of the Veterans Administration along and most other government agencies who serve veterans would meet on an open field and set up tents to provide housing, jobs, benefit check and health care screenings.

Cleveland has done the Stand Down at Cuyahoga Community College campus, Old Stone Church, Trinity Cathedral, the Cosgrove Center, the Convention Center and now at the Masonic Auditorium over the years.  We have served 700 to 1,700 people depending on the year and the size of the facility.  NEOCH began partnering with InterAct in 2003 after years of doing it ourselves.  We moved the Stand Down to the winter as a Winter ReStock operation.  The thinking was that those who spend time on the streets get a boost from all the volunteers and help during the holiday, but by the end of January all of those winter items were worn out or lost and they needed a hand up.

Despite the large number of people, HandsOn did a nice job efficiently and effectively serving those who were requesting help. 

Here are the numbers from the 2012 Stand Down:

840 people attended including families.

172 haircuts were completed free of charge.

89 Podiatry screenings.

147 non-food service volunteers helped out, and a total of 400 volunteers to stage the day’s activities. 

Copyright Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless Cleveland Street Chronicle #19.1 April – May 2012

Community Re-Entry Can Help Those Struggling with Stability

by: t.k. woods

There are various reasons for homelessness.  Often the reason is alcohol or drug addictions. Many of our homeless suffer from severe mental illness, but a portion of our homeless are ex-offenders.  We sometimes overlook our ex-offenders needs because we see them as ex-convicts who need to lie in the bed they made, but when one person is affected all of us are affected. 

While I was selling the Street Chronicle, I spoke with one Mr. Scott of Cleveland who says he finds it hard to find a job with his record.  “Even low standard [temporary labor] agencies now want full background checks,” he says.  “Once your time is served you should be allowed back into society…How can you succeed or progress if you cannot work?” 

Mr. Scott says he is going to apply for school soon and hopes to get a grant.  I informed him from my past knowledge that he may not be able to get a grant depending on his reason for conviction.  Upon light research I found out that I was wrong.   After seeking information from the Women’s Re-Entry, I found that yes, drug charges are a hindrance to ex-offenders attempting to go to school but this barrier is able to be overcome. 

Agencies such as the Community Re-Entry and the Women’s Re-Entry are programs through the LMM (Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry) that assist ex-offenders in just about every area.  The Director of the Women’s Re-Entry Network was generous to lend her time to me to obtain information about the services provided there.  They help with tending to any mental or behavioral issues that may hinder future endeavors to job search or pursuing education.  They help women to prioritize their goals and dreams for the future. The women are afforded case management by a licensed social worker to assist them in their plan, give clarity about their options, and give support. 

Women’s Re-Entry does not offer job services, but can direct persons to services that provide clothing for interviews such as Dress for Success.  Likewise, women seeking schooling can be directed to programs that they otherwise may not have known about such as the Women in Transition program that helps women by placing them in a school setting and showing them how to navigate in a place that could be intimidating to a newcomer. CEOGC, Catholic Charities, and Northcoast Recovery, which is also re-entry specific, are other programs that people can be directly linked to through Women’s Re-Entry. 

Community Re-Entry assists both men and women in all areas of the re-entry process. It offers many of the same programs and assistance as the women’s re-entry, but also help with seeking employment, clothing and hygiene items, and assistance in enrolling for school.  Community Re-Entry has served the community some forty years and they are here to assist in any way possible in for those trying to stabilize after a period of incarceration.   Community Re-Entry has been part of advocacy that has moved the issue forward to remove the question “have you been convicted of a felony” from City employment applications.  The agency plans to continue advocacy to accomplish the same on a county and state level.  Community Re-Entry also works with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (ODRC) on reducing collateral consequences. 

In addition to Community Re-Entry’s services to ex-offenders they also provide preventative and intervention services to at risk youth who are at high risk of future incarceration.  With this short informative letter to the public, I wish to be an encourage ex-offenders who truly want a new start to call and to support the agencies that assist these men and women in getting back on their feet.

To the ex-offenders, the road to re-entry may be difficult, but it is not impossible.  To all others, if you see a sister or brother grasping to resurface in this race throw them a help line.  Each one reach one and teach one. 

FYI- Staying connected through resources such as literature that pertains to you and your challenges is a good way to assist yourself and your cause. Here are some additional resources to use for those struggling with re-entry issues.

You can learn more about the Re-Entry and ODRC collaboration by going here: www.drc.ohio.gov/web/collcons4.pdf

The CIVICC database is currently under construction as improvements are made but available for use at http://opd.ohio.gov/CIVICC/Home.asps/Dosearch.  This site allows you to do a search on a specific offense and then retrieve the information.

For more information about the programs of Community Re-Entry check out their web site www.lutheranmetro.org/communityre-entry .

Receive a Going Home to Stay Guide by calling first call for help at (216) 436-2000 or download a copy at www.211cleveland.org/pdfs/communityreentry.pdf.

The Cuyahoga County Reentry Review is a courtesy of the Cuyahoga county office of reentry.  You can write to them at Cuyahoga County- Office of Reentry 310 West Lakeside Avenue, Suite 550 Cleveland Ohio 44113 or on their web site www.reentry.cuyahogacounty.us  or calling (216) 698-3437

Copyright Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless Cleveland Street Chronicle #19.1 April – May 2012

Finding the Right Frame of Mind to Be Homeless

By Michael Boyd

My name is Michael Boyd and I am going to tell the story about me being homeless.  I’ve been homeless longer than I care to admit. When I first became homeless, I had no idea what I was going to do. I have arthritis in my back. It always hurts, but I am not getting a disability check.  I just recently got out of a ten year relationship. I went down to the shelter at 2100 Lakeside, and they let me in.

I found Mr. Brian Davis and he allowed me to sell the Street Chronicle so I can make me some money. I would like to first thank Brian for letting me sell the Street Chronicle. I would also like to thank the West Side Catholic Center, St. Augustine and the people I met at the West Side Market who allowed me to stand there and talk to people. I wake up at 6:00 am, wash up, eat at 7 a.m. and leave at 8.

Being homeless is a little rough, especially with no income.  I am not willing to stay outside and not willing to get in family or friend’s way, but with God’s Grace everything is getting better.

I get clothes from the West Side Catholic Center and I get food also from the West Side Catholic Center and I would also like to thank people for donating to these places.  I eat at St. Malachi. I met some intelligent people in the 2100.  It’s amazing how many intelligent people you will and can meet down there. 

Okay, my experience of being homeless is a little tiring.   Some days and rough. The people that are homeless around me, sometimes you can see how tired they are in their face. The shelter 2100 is a little rough at times. [Family or friends] drop people off that doesn’t have a place to go or an address or they are straight out of the penitentiary.  The people who have mental illnesses, they used to have a different shelter, but they closed that one and now it’s all of us down there in one great big melting pot. 

For people who might read this story or buy the paper I would like to say thank you. God willing, with this paper and the Coalition, I will not be homeless much longer. Just because I’m homeless does not mean I am worth nothing.  God has a plan for all of us, and I want that to be printed in big bold letters. GOD HAS A PLAN for all of us, every single one of us.

Some days you have to ask yourself, who really cares who about the homeless? Who is looking out for us? We are not worth nothing, we are all God’s children. I walk a lot I ask people for a lot of help. Some days are really rough. When it rains we have to get out of the shelters. When it snows we have to get out the shelters. I remember one time I was looking at the news and one of the newscasters said that the Animal Protective League was paying $10 if you bring a stray cat or dog in that’s how cold it was outside, and 10 minutes later they was putting us out. And I had to just keep saying “God is great” and “we are not worthless.”

They say that this city they make jokes about this city The Mistake on the Lake, the economy [is bad] and so on and so on.  There are some very generous people here in the City of Cleveland. There is one thing I can say about the City of Cleveland: we have great Browns fans, die hard Browns fans, and we do look out for each other. Forty-four years old I have 4 girls (all of them grown). I just don’t want their help like that. So the next time you see someone on the streets begging for change, maybe they don’t have the paper, it’s not what they might do with the money, it’s the fact that you know in your heart you want to give them the pennies and the nickels and dimes that you might just drop on the ground and not even pick up.  You may be in your office at work somewhere and you see a penny and you won’t even pick it up. At the end of the day, you see someone out there shaking a cup or someone like me selling the Cleveland Street Chronicle, just remember that we are all worth something and everyone needs a helping hand.  There are black, white, green, purple and blue at 2100, and if you don’t believe me you just come down there one day and glance around. 

Copyright Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless Cleveland Street Chronicle #19.1 April – May 2012

Gone Fishing

By Angelo Anderson

Remember how wonderful it was sitting on the dock surrounded by your friends shooting the breeze with your fishing line in the water hoping for a bite.  The annual Homeless Fishing Outing allows 20 participants to have this relaxing and humanizing experience. 

At the Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry Men’s Shelter, 2100 Lakeside Avenue, Anthony Morris, Veteran Community Coordinator and I developed this program in 2011.  I am the Employment and Education Coordinator for the shelter, and have worked or volunteered at the facility since it opened.  The thought behind the program was to give the men an opportunity to enjoy an activity that is commonplace, but typically out of reach or unavailable to the homeless.  So once a year those in the shelter that have a desire set out armed with donated fishing licenses, poles and bait to various locations on Lake Erie to fish.  Morris and I along with volunteers provide transportation, and training to those that have never been fishing before and we provide tips to those with a little experience. 

The day long adventure provides the men with an opportunity to bond, talk about childhood fishing trips and generally relax and experience the joy of landing a catch.  However, the catch is not the most important part of the day but we do give bragging rights to the person with the biggest fish of the day.

Since the program began the participants have found the outing not only to be fun, but also an opportunity to grow closer to a stable life in housing.  A big thanks to the State of Ohio for providing the free fishing licenses that can be used throughout the remaining fishing season.  Also, we deeply appreciate the Shines Bait & Tackle Shop, located at 1287 East 55th Street for donating bait and tackle for the excursion. 

Thank you also to the numerous and anonymous contributors that give used fishing poles and tackle each year.  Those that wish to contribute and or volunteer can contact Mr. Anthony Morris at 216-566-0047 ext 129 or Angelo Anderson at the same number.

Copyright Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless Cleveland Street Chronicle #19.1 April – May 2012

Sheri West Family Issues Lead to Homelessness

By Navina Wilder and William

      Question: Ms. West could you just give me a little background about yourself?

Sheri West: Well, I was married but separated and I have 3 grown children.  I used to own a group home taking care of mentally ill men in the 1990’s, and I also had my own home and rental property. Presently, I am a home care provider taking care of seniors in their homes.

     Q: How did you become homeless?

SW:  It started basically with my marriage. I was having trouble in my marriage. It escalated to the point were my husband left me. I believed in marriage, and I became depressed.  I didn’t want to see or talk to anyone, not my children or other family members. He left me and I got to the point I didn’t care anymore, and my business wasn’t being successful. My mortgage was falling behind, because I wasn’t getting the clients and my beds weren’t being filled. So I wasn’t able to keep up the expenses.

 My husband left me and I really didn’t care anymore. The bills started coming in. I tried making arrangements with the mortgage companies, to make adjustments but they wouldn’t listen.  [My requests] fell on deaf ears. I also had people sending me mail saying that I was going into foreclosure.  I started getting mail, but when I called them they wanted a fee.   So, I said to myself if I had any money I wouldn’t have to call you. That didn’t work out, so I became more and more depressed the bills kept coming in.  I just threw them in the garbage. It came time when I had to get out of my home. I asked a family [member] if I could stay with them and they said yes, but when it came time for me to get out of my place they said, “No.” That really was a blow to my spirit and my heart, because you would always think your family member would help you out at your time of need and they didn’t.

 I ended up losing my house. I had to sell my things and items and what I didn’t sell I had to put on the street. I kept my personal things and my car. I put my clothes, personal items along with my plants in my car. I slept in my car for that first night. I just knew I couldn’t do this after sleeping in my car for that night. I didn’t want to ask for help because I am a very independent person and I felt ashamed a person of my age going through this situation. I just felt ashamed, and I didn’t want to let anyone know what was going on--not even my children.  I knew I had to do something. I called a friend of mine, a lady who helped me get my group home started. I called her and asked her if I could stay with her until I got myself on my feet and she said, “yes.”  So, that was what I was doing for like 3 months, and then I would stay with someone else.

 I was moving from house to house. I didn’t want to stay with someone too long, because my mother always told me, you don’t want to wear out your welcome. I really don’t like imposing on people, because, like I said, I am an independent woman. I don’t like asking for help, but I knew I had to do something. So, I kept asking my friends if I could stay with them, so I kept moving from house to house. Finally what kept me going was my faith in God, and in a higher power. I knew that things were going to get better. I prayed a lot, I cried a lot and I read a lot of motivational and inspirational books that kept me going. I knew I was already at the bottom so the only way I could go was up. It was only a matter of time. I just had to be patient. In the meantime, I was trying to get a home based business off the ground. I had to network in the community. While networking, I met this lady and we became friends. After a couple of months, I asked her if I could stay with her until I get myself on my feet, and she was nice enough to say, “Yes.” It was really [this friend] who helped me map out a plan for my life. I registered for college, I got a job, and I was able to get food stamps. Things were going pretty well at that time. I knew I couldn’t stay with her forever. I didn’t want to impose on her and her friends any longer then I needed. It was at this time that I spoke with her about my fears, and the stigma I had about the homeless shelters.

      Q: Ms. West, I would like to ask you what was your experience living in a shelter? 

SW: My experience of living in a shelter is not what I expected it to be. Like I said I had a stigma about the homeless shelters. I never wanted to go to one, because I always thought it was for alcoholics and drug addicts that [were sleeping] in homeless shelters. You know, people who were shiftless, and didn’t want to do anything with their life. I thought it was going to be unorganized [with] people sleeping on cots everywhere. But I was really shocked and amazed. I can say this was one of the best shelters that I have seen. When I was looking for a shelter, some of them were really where I didn’t want to be. I would have rather slept in my car than in [one of the] shelters.

So, someone had told me about the West Side Catholic Center, and for some reason something told me to call them. Because I called a couple of other shelters that told me I couldn’t work [while sleeping at the shelter].  I was working at the time and I told them that [that] didn’t make any sense. You are here to help people but why can’t [your client’s] work. I knew I didn’t want to go [to these other shelters], because I wanted to keep my job.  I also had bills to pay car insurance and a telephone, so I didn’t go [to the other shelters]. I called the West Side Catholic Center and they said, “Yes, you can have a job [and stay at the shelter]”. I kept calling them, but they didn’t have any openings. I kept calling everyday until they knew who I was.  [The woman at the shelter] said, “you never know what’s going to come up.” Just in case they had an opening, I [visited].  It was nice, organized and they cared about the people.

I finally got in.] It was a nice experience, I had my own room in the beginning, but then towards the end I had to share my room. I had a good roommate, and I really enjoyed that shelter. I can also say it was not what I thought. There were people in that shelter who really didn’t want to be there. They are there because of situations that happened in their life just like mine. It’s not all about alcoholics or drug addicts; there are a lot of people who don’t want to be there, but they have no choice.

      Q: How long was your stay in the shelter? 

SW: It was about 6 months

      Q: What other experience did you have at the Shelter? What did you actually see while you were there?  What was actually going on and taken place? 

SW: Well, they had different programs [like] financial planning and activities for the kids, including a game room and face painting. They also had anger management and a spirituality group, which I loved because I am a spiritual person. They had outings for the people at the shelter. They would take them to a dinner or a concert. They always had something different to do at the shelter. They had a computer room for you to look for jobs and housing. We had chores to do, which is normal because you are expected to have chores where you are living. It was nice. They put up people’s medications. It was just organized.

      Q: What resources and agencies did you utilize when you were homeless that might help someone else in your same predicament? 

SW: The things that I got involved in that they had available at the shelter were the clothing program. You get free clothing.  They also help you with [getting housing assistance]. They help with vouchers so you can go find somewhere to stay. They offer financial counseling, help with your credit to tell you your scores, and budgeting. [They had] a spirituality group, self-defense classes, and domestic violence counselor. The employment connection was another resource because it helps you find a job and they help you get money to go to college. They help you write resumes [and] you do mock interviews.  That was a great resource. They also had a [transitional] program and I took advantage of this. It helps you find a place to stay and help pay the rent until you get on your feet.

      Q: How long is that?

SW: You are only able to be on it for a year, but they sometimes can give you an extension but I am not sure how long.

      Q: What was the transition from being homeless to independence, as you are now, like? 

SW:  It was smooth, but I did have a problem finding a place to stay. They have so many programs for people who are elderly or [those who have a] handicap, but not for me.  It was challenging finding an affordable place to stay. Thank goodness for the place that I am at now.  That is one of my goals, to be able to provide affordable housing for those exiting the shelter that are not handicapped or elderly.

      Q: How are you today as far as your mindset, mentally? 

SW:  I am going to tell you the truth, I always knew things were going to workout for me because I am a very positive person and I have a lot of faith in my God. I am a fighter. I am independent and I have a strong will. In my mind, I am doing great. I am having a wonderful time in my life. I love my life. I am very thankful for the West Side Catholic Center for helping me secure a place to stay.  If it wasn’t for them, I don’t know, but I am just thankful that they were there when I needed them.   I am enjoying my life. I like where I live now. I am doing great. I still have my job, and I can work when I want to. I like the freedom I have now. I have a home-based business that I am trying to get off the ground, and I know that it is going to be successful. I just want to tell people, just hang in there, things are going to get better.  Just because things are down now they will not always be that way. They are down now, but the only way to go is up. Just be patient.

      Q: What strategies can you offer someone as far as steps to become successful?

SW:  The only thing I can say is follow your heart and just know if there is something you want to do--just do it. Don’t let things hinder you or limit you, just believe that you can do anything you want to do. The starting point is to go out and find the resources that can help you get to where you want to be. Asking questions and getting answers is very critical. This step is very important in helping to keep and maintain your faith.

      Q: Would you consider mentoring someone who might be homeless, as far as someone who is having a hard time getting on track? 

SW: Sure, I wouldn’t mind doing that. I like helping people. If I can help someone who is going through what I went through I would be more than happy to help.

     Q: Ms. West tells me how you are giving back what was given to you?

SW:  I am involved with NEOCH and the homeless congress is a part of that, which I belong to. They asked for volunteers to be part of Street Voices (Editor’s Note: a program to train formerly homeless people to speak before religious and civic groups). They go into the community colleges, schools and different organizations to talk about your experiences, and that’s what I am doing now. I am a speaker and I speak about my situation and I love it very much. I am trying to get rid of the stereotype of the public about homeless people [and the myth that they] are all alcoholics or drug addicts, which is not the case.  I am doing speaking these engagements at the different universities, colleges, schools, and churches to speak about my experience, and that is how I am giving back.

 

Copyright Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless Cleveland Street Chronicle #19.1 April – May 2012

Vendor Loves Selling the Helpful Paper

 By Bobbette Robinson

      Hello my name is Bobbette Robinson.  I’m a vendor for the homeless street newspaper, the Cleveland Street Chronicle. The paper takes a look at homelessness and the issues that contribute to creating this condition. Most often the articles are written from the vendor’s point of view; many of whom have first hand knowledge of homelessness because of their personal experiences. The paper also provides information to help those living on the street to where they can go to receive food and shelter.

      As a vendor I want to share my story. At one time, I too was homeless and the information listed in the paper was very helpful in helping me to change my life’s circumstance and existing situation. Today, I support the fight to end homelessness by selling the paper. I would also like to thank the many supports that purchase the paper, because it continues to provide some stability for me and the many other people experiencing homelessness.

      We have food pantries all over Cleveland and they can help with food and clothing--all you need is a State ID and proof of income. There is one on East 88th and Broadway and another on East 49th and Broadway. If you need more help, call First Call for Help at 211 or 216/ 436-2000.

      I feel blessed to be a part of the Cleveland Street Chronicle and I will try hard to please the people that love and read the Chronicle. I will always love the Chronicle whether I’m a vendor or not.

 Copyright Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless Cleveland Street Chronicle #19.1  May 2012

 

Twenty Five Years of Collecting Names

Commentary By Brian Davis

      The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless met on December 21, 2011 to read the names of those who passed away over the last year. This was the 25th time, NEOCH has gathered in Cleveland to remember those who died by lighting a candle.  In 2008, the State of Ohio with support from State Senator Mike Skindell and Representative Mike Foley recognized December 21 as Homeless Memorial Day.  The 2011 memorial was held at St. Patrick’s meal site where the event was held for five previous years.

     The Annual Homeless Memorial has been held on the first day of winter in most cities in Ohio and in over 100 cities around the United States.  Nationally, the event is organized by the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Health Care for the Homeless.  In Cleveland, the first Candlelight Vigil was in 1987 on Public Square.  The Coalition reserved space on Public Square for the first couple of years until it just got too cold, windy, and snowy for participants. 

      We have held the memorial at Trinity Cathedral a number of times, St. Malachi, Franklin Circle Church, St Augustine, St. Paul’s Church in Cleveland Hts, and Old Stone Church.   The Coalition tries to assure homeless people are involved in the vigil, so it is held during the time a meal is normally scheduled.  Typically, there is musician who performs and religious leaders who offer a prayer from their faith tradition.  Rabbi Joshua Caruso of Fairmont Temple might have the record for attending the most Homeless Memorial Days. 

      NEOCH also typically has one political leader in the community who attends and says a few words.  We have heard from Mayor Frank Jackson, Congressman Kucinich, Feighan, and Congresswoman Tubbs Jones.  We have had County elected officials including Chuck Germana, Jimmy Dimora, Peter Lawson Jones, Mary Boyle, and Tim McCormack.  State elected officials including Mike Foley, Mike Skindell, Eric Fingerhut, Jeffrey Johnson, Nina Turner, and Dale Miller have spoken.  Finally, we have had a number of Cleveland City Council members speak at the event including Joe Cimperman, Jackson as Council President, Jay Westbrook, and Joe Santiago.

      We have read hundreds of names over the 25 years.  We have always lit candles, and held a moment of silence for those who passed away.  We have always offered those witnessing the vigil to say the names of others that we may have missed in our collection of information.  Many of the names are collected on the NEOCH website.

      2011 was the first year with some controversy about the memorial in the last 25 years in Cleveland.  The largest provider in the community, Mental Health Services, refused to provide the names for the memorial.  This had never happened in Cleveland, and in fact the two national groups had never heard of this objection.  The names of all 4,485 American soldiers who died in the Iraq war are read on a regular basis and on ABC News every Sunday morning, but Mental Health Services cited HIPAA restrictions preventing them from breaking the privacy of their clients. 

      The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was signed by President Clinton in 1996, but the privacy provisions did not go into effect until 2003 in the United States and the enforcement rules were not in place until 2006.  They govern most health care organizations including mental health providers from releasing information about patients or disclosing health information collected from health insurers, hospitals, clinics while working to upgrade all records to an electronic platform.  All births and deaths in the community are public events that are announced in the paper.  We do not release the names of those who died by agency and we do not identify the cause of death, so no personal information is disclosed.  The individuals listed had previous experience with homelessness, but it does not mean that they died while homeless.  All we are doing is remembering a group often forgotten by society.

      Despite the controversy, we believe that this is a critical event in the community.  Was this a political decision to not release the names because the largest provider would not want to admit that they have done a bad job of providing services if more homeless people were dying?  We will never know, but we have asked the County to require all publicly funded programs to provide names at the end of the year.  County lawyers are looking at the situation. 

      Every year advocates hope that this is the last year for a homeless memorial day.  We hope that no one with recent homeless experience will need to have their name spoken at a Candlelight vigil.  We hope that there will be the political will in the short term to end homelessness making a memorial unnecessary.  We hope that the behavioral health and chronic health conditions will no longer bankrupt people to the point that they cannot afford to pay rent so that their name ends up on the memorial list.  We know that any period of homelessness typically has a negative effect on the lifespan of the individual, and so reading the names gives everyone a new energy to work toward an end to homelessness.

 Copyright Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless Cleveland Street Chronicle Volume #19.1 April – May 2012

 

Thanks for All the Help

By Roberto Lee

      Editor’s Note:  Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry’s Men Shelter at 2100 Lakeside works with a large number of students and adults who volunteer and learn more about homelessness.  One young man named Roberto volunteered and passed along this note.

      My experience at the shelter was a real eye opener to what really goes on in the world outside my door.  I now understand that there are people going through real life struggles that don’t compare to my minor issues.  Instead of these men giving up they fight to survive. Their admirable efforts encouraged me to never give up no matter how hard the road gets.

      I would like to thank the multiple staff at the Men’s Shelter for giving me the wonderful advice that has inspired me to make a change.  I only hope that I can have such an affect on others, just as they have had an affect on me.

 Copyright Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless Cleveland Street Chronicle #19.1 April – May 2012

 

Thank you and I Miss New Orleans

By Raymond

      All of the vendors realize that we do not accept donations, but I want to thank you the people who have purchased the Street Chronicle from us.  I also want you to know that all the profits and proceeds go to the vendors.  There is no donations [for the paper].  Without the Street Chronicle sales, I would not have winter clothing.  I would not have anything to eat.  I would be living on the streets without the sales from the Street Chronicle.  So, this paper has helped me to stay in an apartment. 

      Even when I was panhandling and getting donations, I thanked people for helping me.  So, I moved up the ladder to the Street Chronicle.  This is more like a job.  Actually, it is a job.  We pay 35 cents a copy for the paper, and we sell the paper for $1.25 per copy.  This is a big difference from panhandling, because we are giving something back for their money.  Now we are working for money, but during my panhandling days it was not really working.  There is no cost to ask for money.  The Chronicle requires us to pay for something before we can sell.

      Now, I feel like I have earned the money unlike my panhandling days.  I really am able to spend my money better, because I earned it.  I am trying to save my money right now to get back to New Orleans.  That is my home and I want to go back. I love the weather and the food.  It is the best food in the world in New Orleans.  Red beans cooked right and alligator tail are two foods that I miss.  I love the crawfish, and the year round heat.  It don’t bother me like it bothers the northerners.  I miss Jackson Square on Saturday mornings with all the artists painting pictures. 

 Copyright Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless Cleveland Street Chronicle Volume #19.1 April – May 2012

Street Newspaper Vendor Versus a Hot Dog Stand Vendor

Commentary by Delores

       If you are looking to make extra money and thinking about working the hot dog stand or any other street vending, may I suggest working for the Street Chronicle as a vendor? Newspaper vendors get to pick your own hours, and you also get your money the minute you sell a paper versus waiting a week or two for your paycheck or payday.  You will be your own boss [as a street newspaper salesperson].  You are helping others while you are helping yourself.

      By selling the paper you get to keep 90% of your money while a hot dog vendor only keeps 25% of his or her money.  Hot dog vendors have a set schedule, while newspaper vendors can sell whenever they want.  If you are cold you can go into a store or just go home if you are selling the paper.  Hot dog vendors have to stay by their cart.  You don’t have to wait to get a check cashed as a street newspaper vendor.  As a Street Chronicle vendor, you can sell anywhere in the city, while a hot dog vendor has one location and cannot move. The hot dog vendor provides no job training, while the street newspaper vendor is on the job training for many different jobs. 

      You will have all the locations in the City of Cleveland area to sell the Street Chronicle.  You will also be able to handle all the big events that come up in Cleveland.  The season opener at Progressive Field, the Casino will be opening in May, the flats are busy, etc.  This is an excellent opportunity for students that are in journalism, art, and photography.  If you are involved in job training, you could get extra credit for working for the Street Chronicle. So, look us up on the website at www.neoch.org, or call us at 216-432-0540 to ask for details on becoming a vendor.                          

Copyright Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless Cleveland Street Chronicle #19.1 April – May 2012

 

Someone Has to Remember Those Who We Lost

Commentary by William Gilmore

      On December 21, 2011, the 25th Candlelight Vigil Memorial Service was held at St. Patrick’s Hunger Center paying honor and tribute to those persons who died homeless or having experienced homelessness in 2011.  This year’s services took place with a heavy heart and a deep sense of sadness because of the perception that persons living in the state of homelessness and poverty do not matter. I heard that their lives did not matter and no one cares.  It is these perceptions that destroy the human spirit.  It’s also a poor state of affairs when those persons who have expressed being committed to providing services and help to those in need choose to make known publicly their true intent, or when they deny the less fortunate the human dignity which God has given. 

      To quote the author Ralph Ellison from The Invisible Man, ‘No, I’m not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allen Poe nor am I one of your Hollywood Movie Ectoplasm.  I am a man of substance and might be even said to process a mind.”  These words were written decades ago but capture the dreams and hopes of the less fortunate in society.

      The circumstances that create the condition of homelessness and poverty are man made.  Those conditions will change only when those with the best hearts and the brightest minds lead us.  The causalities of these misperceptions can and will play a major role in the outcome of these issues which plague our society.  This reality exists because every person matters to someone and those experiencing homelessness do have a voice.  We must hear all people if we are to achieve a more perfect union, as described in our nation’s Constitution.  May God and heaven help us all do what is right. 

Copyright Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless Cleveland Street Chronicle #19.1 April – May 2012

Rooming Houses: Affordable Housing For The Disadvantaged

Commentary by Alexander Hamilton

 Editor’s Note:  Mr Hamilton owns property locally and rents out rooms to homeless people.

      Times have changed and it seems as if the economy has not made it any better for people who are economically disadvantaged.  While there are people who can’t seem to find affordable housing in the traditional view of things.  There are alternatives that can help a person get reacquainted into housing that is affordable for their current situation.

      As property manager for over 15 years plus, I have encountered people who would be considered economically disadvantaged by general society.  However, in my eyes they are people.  These people that come to me for help, trust me due to my track record as a people person, someone that they can talk to.  In addition to my helping them, I look at their situation from a different prospective.  I want them to get the most desirable outcome for their situation.  I am by no means a counselor, but I have become a father to the majority of people who choose to take my advice and understand my perspective.

      My thinking is that everyone has to start from the bottom and work their way to where they ultimately want to be.  When a person receives disability or works a temp or day labor job needs, they need a roof over their head.  They are often looking at housing that will take up more than 40% of their check every month.  I know that the reason they do this is because they want some place nice that they can live so that they can hang their hat or coat and call it their own. 

      My suggestion is renting a room at a rooming house.  There are not many left, but they can be a step up.  It is where a person can feel that thy have a place to call their own.   I know a lot of people have a bad perception about rooming houses due to a few bad apple or experiences.  All I can say to those people is keep an open mind and realize that one bad apple does not define the whole barrel.

      Let me say this, however, all rooming houses do not provide the same things.   A basic rooming house would include a bed, television and possibly a chair.  While a rooming house that provides extras may include the basics, plus some additional furniture and some household items.  However, when looking at renting a room, you have to weigh more factors than the price and the physical things in the room.  The fact is that some rooming houses offer flexibility in terms of how you pay.  There may be a plan available where you can pay by the day or week.  If you get paid monthly, you can of course pay by the month.

      While a rooming house is not a full apartment, it is a warm bed to sleep at night, shelter from inclement weather and a safe place to be besides the street.  I am not a counselor as I stated before.  I am simple someone who cares about the people who cross my path.  My goal is to not only help people, but also bridge the gap between property owners and the people they serve.  One cannot do without the other.  A lot of owners do not understand that a part of doing business is being a caring human being.  I try to understand both sides of the same.  I understand the property owners need to make money.  However, I also understand that no money can be made without a little care for the people.

      Over the years, I have helped many to see that their current situation does not have to define them.  Homelessness is a temporary status.  I believe that everyone can get out of being homeless.  They can achieve this simply by a shift in thinking and some maturity.  I also know that sometimes being hurt does not allow any one to think in the most logical terms.  Life has a way of making us all jaded in certain areas.  This can be devastating for an individual who has limited or no family to rely on for emotional support and comfort.  A person should be allowed to think for him or herself, but also has the ability to listen to suggestions that can improve their quality of life.  If a person is searching for a way out of a dead end situation, I want to show them that there are choices and those choices will affect their life.  My goal is to help the disadvantaged realize their advantages.  I want them to see those advantages through different glasses so they can help enjoy life a little more.

 Copyright Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless Cleveland Street Chronicle #19.1 April – May 2012

NEOCH Index

By Luke Drotar

 Rank of depression among the leading causes of disability (WHO): 1

 Years by which the average lifespan of a homeless person is shorter than the overall average (Crisis): 30

 Factor by which the gap in standardized test scores between affluent and low-income students was wider than the gap between blacks and whites (Sean Reardon): 2

 Percentage of federal student loan borrowers who made payments as agreed between 2005 and 2009 (IHEP): 40

 Average monthly rent burden (Amount of monthly income vs. monthly rent – 30% is considered affordable) for people facing eviction and contacted by the Cleveland Tenants Organization (CTO): 54%.

 Percentage of federal benefits that went to the bottom fifth of U.S. households in 1979: 54

Today (CBO): 36%

 Percentage of African-Americans and White non-Hispanics as a share of total U.S. population: 12%, 64%

 Percentage of government benefits received by each racial group, respectively (Center for Budget and Policy Priorities): 14%, 69%

 Number of jobs lost by African-American women during the recession: 233,000

 Number of jobs lost by African American women during the first two years of the recovery (Nat’l Women’s Law Center): 258,000

 Percentage of residents of the shelters in Cleveland in 2011 who identified themselves as African Americans: 69.4%

 Percentage of residents of the City of Cleveland who identify themselves as African Americans according to the 2010 Census: 53.3%

 Chance that an employed American works in the service industry (B. of Labor Statistics): 6 in 7

 Percent increase in the rate of alcohol abuse for every percent by which U.S. unemployment increases (U. of Miami): 17

 Percentage of doctors who will make an obesity diagnosis if a patient’s weight is equal to or greater than their own (Johns Hopkins U.): 93

 Percentage of patients of Care Alliance in 2010 who do not have access to any insurance: 88%

 Percent increase in total U.S. health-care spending in 2009 and 2010, respectively: 3.8%, 3.9%

 Respective rank of these annual increases among the lowest of the past fifty years (CMS): 1, 2

 Amount of the Pentagon’s FY 2013 budget request: $525,000,000,000

 Estimated number of jobs created by every billion dollars of military spending: 11,000

 Estimated number of jobs created if those military dollars were spent on education (Political Economy Research Inst.): 27,000

 Number of U.S. service people dismissed for pre-existing “personality disorders” between 2002 and 2007 (DOD): 22,656

 Amount each dismissal saves the federal gov’t in annual treatment costs (Linda Bilmes): $13,890

 Minimum adjusted gross income needed to be in the top 1% of taxpayers: $380,354

 Percentage of the population who enter the shelter without any income: 65%

 Rank of George Washington among America’s wealthiest presidents (24/7 Wall St.): 1

 Percent of the $62 million raised by major presidential Super PACs in 2011 that came from the top twenty-two givers (Sunlight Foundation): 50%

 Copyright NEOCH Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless--Cleveland Street Chronicle Issue 19.1 May 2012

It Could Happen to You and the Paper Offers the Other Side of the Story

By Mark Read

     To me, the Cleveland Street Chronicle is a very important publication. In short, the Cleveland Street Chronicle brings about the awareness of homelessness and the issues surrounding the homeless population. The best part of Cleveland Street Chronicle is that through interviews and statistics we can dispel the rumors and attached stigma that all homeless persons are either addicts, alcoholics, or people with mental health issues.

     In today’s economy, the 9 to 5 person is suspicious of all homeless problems in America. If you are living from paycheck to paycheck, all it takes is a layoff or a company down sizing and you could be homeless. As you wait on your unemployment benefits, which could take weeks or months, you may have a problem.  If you don’t have a sympathetic landlord, then you get a three day notice.  After that, there is a court date and a move out date is assigned by the magistrate. 

     So,as all this goes on, you can become homeless. You are Joe citizen and ask yourself, “how did this happen?” In writing all this, I am hoping that our readers realize how easy it is to become homeless.

     I would like to thank all of our readers and sponsors for supporting our newspaper. 

 Editor’s Note: Mark Read passed away March 2, 2012 in his home.  Mark was a vendor for at least six years.  All of the vendors and staff were sad to hear about his unexpected death. 

 Copyright Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless Cleveland Street Chronicle Volume #19.1 April – May 2012

 

In the Spirit of Giving

Commentary By Lucille Egan

     It was a cold morning and I was at the Westside market.  As I stood there selling the Street Chronicle, I noticed a homeless man walking around.  He had a large backpack on his back with about twenty zippers on it.  He walked over to me and said, “Here are three pennies for you.”  I said, ‘thank you sir,’ and he smiled.  Then he walked over to the bell ringer and said, “Here’s three pennies for the Salvation Army.”  The man seemed happy about his good deed and went on his journey, and followed the sun.

      I watched the man as he walked.  He seemed calm and happy.  I wondered where he might have been going.  Was he going to St. Augustine’s on West 14th, or the Westside Catholic Center, or maybe Downtown?  Wherever he went I hoped it was somewhere warm.  He seemed like such a nice gentleman.  I wondered what happened to make him homeless, but I didn’t want to be nosey and ask him.

       It amazed me at how generous he was with what little he had.  He was a man without a home, carrying everything he owned on his back.  He gave away all of change that he probably picked off the ground to help someone else without wanting anything in return.  It touched me because many people who have good jobs and have a home hate to give to those who are less fortunate than them unless they are getting a tax write-off.  Many people who have jobs and homes also don’t seem as happy as this man.  He seemed as if he was just happy that he made it to another day, and is probably the type who prayed and thanked God each day.  A lot of people who are lucky enough to have a good job and a home often fail to be happy and thank God for it.  People could learn a lot from this man that I met at the West Side Market.

 Copyright Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless Cleveland Street Chronicle #19.1 April – May 2012

 

I Must Overcome

by t.k. woods

I must overcome because of Joy

Joy awaiting me initiates and perfects my faith

So will I love you

I must overcome so my sons can overcome

They need me to pray against what preys on them,

To make them laugh more than cry,

To complement them more than criticize, to let my moderation

Be made known to all men, for what is at hand.

I need to dismiss bitterness, slay un-forgiveness and kill gluttony so that my posterity can be free from this. 

But most of all, I must overcome because of Joy,

Joy awaiting me, He initiates and perfects my faith. 

So will I love You, Jesus.

 

 Copyright Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless Cleveland Street Chronicle #19.1 April – May 2012

I Believe that We Need to Think About “Emotional Homeless”

By Kim “Supermutt” Goodman

    When we think of homeless people, we think of those who are physically homeless.  We picture people who have no money, no job, no house or an apartment to live in and we sometimes feel sorry for them because they lack things what we feel are important.  There is one kind of homeless not too many people understand.  It is what I call “emotional homelessness.”

    There are a lot of people who live on the street who suffer from emotional and physical homelessness. Then there are people who have a physical structure in which they live, where they pay rent and sometimes utilities, who suffer from something I would call “emotional Homeless.” Now, you are probably curious about “emotional homelessness!”

    “Emotional homeless” describes someone who lacks a loving, caring and home-like environment where they feel happy and content with these relationships. 

    To understand, you must first fully understand what a home really is.  A home is more than just a roof over your head or a place to sleep.  A home is a physical structure (a house, an apartment, a room, or a trailer home) where a person feels safe, secure and happy.  For a child, it is a starting point where their parents discover their talents and help them develop them, teach their child that they are valuable and a place where the child feels loved, valued and appreciated.  People who live in homes value them, and when they leave, they can’t wait to return to them.

    Many people think the answer to a homeless person’s problem is to help him get housing so that they will have a stable place to live, but this is not always the solution.  Many homeless people get housing but they still don’t have a home.  Most people overlook the fact that some homeless people have a different set of needs.  Many have unmet emotional and mental needs left over from their childhood that makes them incomplete as a person.

    To some people, their place of residence is just a physical structure where they sleep, and store their stuff for safekeeping.  Those people often lack supportive people in their lives.  Many have disabilities or were survivors of abuse or neglect and lack the social skills and mental ability to reach out and connect with others appropriately.  People who are “emotionally homeless” often leave home in search of what most people find a home. Many go to area meal sites and drop in centers in search of human companionship and friendly faces or to get hugs or kind words from staff and volunteers.  Some sit in front of their apartment buildings or hang out in the lobby or around their building looking for someone to interact with. 

    Some “emotionally homeless” people have children, hoping to create someone to love and care about them.  Some end up being good parents because they choose to do the opposite of what their parents did to them.  Others abuse their children because they may not know how to be a good parent or because they want their child to meet their needs that their parents failed to meet. 

    A lot of “emotionally homeless” people never had a home to live in.  As kids, many found their places of residence to be fearful places.  Now as adults, they continue to search for a home in which they feel a sense of belonging.  Some find their places of residence to be depressing and lonely and may abuse alcohol or drugs to ease their feelings of isolation that sometimes can cause them to become physically homeless once again.  Others make bad choices in friendships or mates because they are so desperate for companionship or because they don’t know how to look for good qualities in a person.

    The cure for “emotional homelessness” is positive human companionship.  Someone who can see the person as a valuable person, notice their talents and skills and help them build on them. They could spend time with the person who is struggling, or call the person to see if they are okay. They could drop by the person’s house to see how they are doing and most importantly, show (not just tell) the person how much they care about them. If someone says encouraging words to a person, that person is more likely to do something positive instead of something negative.

    You can follow me on twitter: Supermut101

 Copyright Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless Cleveland Street Chronicle #19.1 April – May 2012

 

Homeless Stand Down Keeps Hope Alive

Commentary by Buzzy

     Sunday January 22, 2012 was a very rewarding day for homeless people and less fortunate here in the City of Cleveland. Once again, we were given the opportunity to network with the different organizations in Cleveland who are geared to doing something for the homeless and the less fortunate in our society.

     We were rewarded with portraits, haircuts, food, clothing, entertainment, and we got to speak with people from Mental Health Services, dentists shelter staff, housing agencies, and veterans services. We were given general check-ups for blood pressure, cholesterol, sugar, feet and things most people in our society take for granted.

     Throughout the day, we were given breakfast and lunch. And as I looked out among the people, most of them were generally appreciative of this day. Not too many NEGATIVE VIBES ran through the crowd of the homeless people.  It is these kind of gatherings that keeps HOPES ALIVE!   There are truly a lot of people who really want to help with the plight of homeless people and the less fortunate in our society.

     My praises go out to all the volunteers who took time out of their busy schedules to bless us with their presence, kindness and time. It is because of these gatherings that many people are being helped. On behalf of homeless people and less fortunate, I would like to say, “Thank You to all and keep up the Good Work!”

     Through utilizing these services, I hope I will have I place to stay and I will tell everyone next year.  Keeping the Faith!

  Copyright Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless Cleveland Street Chronicle #19.1 April – May 2012

Hilary King of Housing Research and Advocacy Center

By Demetrius Barnes

Editor’s Note: This is an interview of Hilary King, the executive director of the Housing Research and Advocacy Center.  King took over the organization in 2011, and has continued to grow the organization into one of the leading fair housing groups in the country.  HRAC publishes research on barriers to accessing housing and monitors the rental market to protect against owners violating fair housing laws.  More information can be found at www.thehousingcenter.org.

 Q: What is Housing Research and Advocacy Center and what do you do?

HK:  We are a fair housing and fair lending organization, and we promote fair housing in diverse communities in Northeast Ohio by providing effective research, advocacy, and education to residents of Northeast Ohio.

 Q: How big is the problem of housing discrimination locally?

HK:  It’s a significant problem locally.  We estimate that over 30,000 people a year experience housing discrimination in Northeast Ohio.  We receive numerous calls every week from people who have experienced housing discrimination right here.  It’s a serious problem, and since housing is so central to all of the different services and experiences in our lives it affects education, health services, grocery stores, transportation and the quality of life everything you can think of.  It makes a difference in not only housing opportunity but in all opportunities.

 Q: What is one of the questions that the new and experienced professionals assisting Housing Research and Advocacy Center can ask and answer to prevent housing discrimination in Northeast Ohio?

HK:  If people think that they have experienced housing discrimination I would encourage them to contact our office because we can help them.  We have a Fair Housing Specialist who helps people on a daily basis. Our staff can help those who believe they have experienced housing discrimination, by providing information about how to file a charge with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission or with the US Department of Housing and Urban and Development.  We also test housing discrimination charges. We send out testers to determine whether or not there is a housing discrimination by learning whether they are treated differently based on their protected class – race, color, national origin/ancestry, religion, sex, disability, family status or military status...

 Q: Can you give examples of discrimination cases HRAC has worked on?

HK:  Yes, we work with individuals who most often have difficulty because they are not able to easily enter or exit their home because they are disabled. They request what are called “reasonable accommodations” to make it possible for them to use and enjoy their homes.  For instance, if someone is blind and can’t see signs that are posted in their apartment building and there are important notices about repair work or maintenance that are going on in their apartment building, they can come to us for help.   They might want help about writing a letter to their manager, to request a reasonable accommodation to have a telephone call made to them when there is a notice being posted, so they can know the content of the notices they can’t read.  We also receive many complaints from people who have been denied housing because they have children. We receive calls based on race where they might not even get a chance to see a home because a landlord will not return their call based on their accent.

 Q: Most people think of racial discrimination with housing, but is this the biggest issue facing borrowers at this time?

HK:  We are finding that there is still discrimination in mortgage lending, but it is very difficult to determine whether discrimination has taken place because often people don’t know that they are being discriminated since they have no comparison to their experience.  So, we know that it happens in the community, but for each person it’s hard to know that it’s happening to them.  Many people think they have been denied a loan because of their financial situation when in fact they might have experienced discrimination.  That is why we do testing because we can compare each person’s experience in a test with a person in a protected class and a person that’s in control group. More detailed information about discrimination in lending can be found in our recently released report Racial and Ethnic Discrimination in Ohio Mortgage Lending.

 Q: Is this problem of discrimination only a City of Cleveland problem or is it a problem in suburbs?

HK: Discrimination happens everywhere.  We will publish the State of Fair Housing in Northeast Ohio on April 12 and unfortunately it will show that discrimination continues in all counties in Northeast Ohio.

 Q: What do you think of pushing a fair strategy to force suburban communities to have the number of affordable housing to match the number of poor people?

HK:  Affordable Housing is crucial to the health of Northeast Ohio. I support the development of affordable housing everywhere in Northeast Ohio.  We are members of Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance and we support their affordable and fair housing goals 100%.

 Q: Who started Fair Housing Month?

HK:  Fair Housing Month was started as away of recognizing fair housing through the country because the Fair Housing Act was passed in April 1968 after the death of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.   Fair Housing Month is now celebrated with many activities in April.  We have an annual Fair Housing Celebration on April 12 that will feature local artist Julia Kuo who has created a video to inspire children in Cuyahoga County to participate in our Youth Art Contest. For more information about the contest and fair housing please see our website www.thehousingcenter.org.  And we are also having a program on April 5, Obtaining and Maintaining Housing: Fair Housing for People with Mental Health Disabilities, for the general public. It is free.

 Q: Do not-for-profits ever have issues with fair housing or is this a problem with for-profit landlords?

HK:  Unfortunately, not-for-profit landlords have issues with fair housing and also governmental organizations sometimes have issues just as private landlords do.  Just as there is discrimination in the large communities we see discrimination in small towns.  So, we try to reach people with workshops for landlords, realtors, and the general public as well as to immigrants who are new to our communities, and we are reaching out to children so that they can learn about Fair Housing as a civil right.

 Q: What do you think would improve your effectiveness if funding were not an obstacle?

HK:   I would do more outreach to the community so we can have more of our information about Fair Housing available to everyone.  This would really enhance the work that we are able to do and inform more of the community. It also would give us more resources to help enforce the housing laws when people have experienced discrimination.  And we could deal with the challenges we know many people experience in hard to reach areas.

Q: What could the City or County do to better support your mission of forwarding fair housing?                             

HK:  Cuyahoga County supports fair housing in many communities through a grant that supports our fair housing work.  It includes testing, education for housing providers, municipal officials and the public, complaint assistance and fair housing ordinance review. We are also preparing a Community Lending Factbook that provides information on mortgage lending in every city in Cuyahoga County.  

 Q: Can you explain inclusionary zoning and how far away are we from moving to inclusionary zoning in Cuyahoga County?

HK: Inclusionary zoning is zoning that includes affordable housing and doesn’t restrict people from living in a community because of their membership in a protected class. Inclusionary zoning is zoning that fosters true integration. Exclusionary zoning discourages people based on their protected class.  For example, limiting the number of residents [allowed] in units could discourage residence by families with a number of children. I hope inclusionary zoning would be the trend for future development in Cuyahoga County.

 Copyright Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless Cleveland Street Chronicle #19.1 April – May 2012

Black Like Me A Rainbow

By Silk

 

To the Yellow Man when Hong Kong was under the rule of England till the 90’s were you Black Like Me?

To the Red Man when you were pushed from your Native land to reservations, were you Black Like Me?

To the Brown Man who lost Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and California, were you Black Like Me?

To the White Man when you lost your 401Ks and retirement funds to Enron, were you Black Like Me?

You were all Black Like Me, all Red on the inside, Blue about our children’s future, and fucked by who controls the Green.

Copyright Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and The Street Chronicle published Sept. 2011 Cleveland, Ohio