The Art of Transformation While Homeless in Cleveland

Commentary by Crystal

The Community Women’s Shelter in Cleveland is a shelter located here near downtown and beside Cleveland State University.  It is a place of refuge for women who have lost their homes due to a facet of reasons.  Believed to be a beacon of hope and to evoke change in many women’s lives.  The Art of Transformation is the ideology behind taking refuge at a homeless shelter.  To discover what is inside of self.  This takes place by paying attention to yourself.  This also takes place by paying attention to what you are exposed too.  A person cannot find out what they are drawn to unless they are exposed to it.  Taking refuge at a shelter is designed to create opportunity and resources for a person who has been oppressed or maybe just down on their luck.

Instead, homeless service providers, employees and homeless clients, and /or victims, engage in bullying, disrespect, mental abuses, constructing barriers, inconveniences, and injustices.  IT CANNOT GO ON THIS WAY!  From a home to homeless, and then homelessness and depression when living in the shelter instead of having hope and another chance.  I cannot believe the homeless shelter treat people like animals.  The reason I know, is because I experienced it firsthand.  I do not understand how the City of Cleveland will ever be prosperous when citizens do not make a conscious effort to help their city’s homeless women.

These women have been enslaved.  Most of them believing that slavery only came in the form of white men to black men slavery day and time.  Most women, approximately 90 percent living in the homeless shelters have experienced trauma due to, again, a facet of reasons.  The homeless shelter is supposed to be a place of refuge providing security and safety.  The shelter however, is a living nightmare because of the abuse experienced in this facility. [Editor’s Note: There is only one shelter available to single women now that we have closed the other facilities]. Most women if not all the women, do not want to be there due to the lack of care from staff and providers.  Women become very ill at the shelter due to the poor conditions of the facility because it is not being cleaned and disinfected properly and the fact that it is overcrowded every night.  The shelter is hosed down by maintenance.  It’s kept like it is a barnyard. 

Food for thought is important when creating and thinking of ways to get out of the shelter and into a home.  No client there receives good daily nutrition in order to keep the mind at high functioning levels.  Homelessness and depression, whether situational or clinical are the reoccurring events at the shelter.  Women who stay at the shelter are self-medicated when it comes to health ailments and sickness. Some of these women do not take their prescribed medicines because they feel they just do not need it and there are not enough health care professionals at the shelter.  In order to receive housing vouchers or funds, one must have one of the following ailments :   1) A disability (mental health or some other documented disability) 2) A total of one year of homelessness.  The homeless shelter is there to provide for “all” women, but can only offer housing help to a few women. 

Women at the shelter are treated like animals instead of human beings.  There is no place for a woman to rest when she is sick.  Everyone must be out of the building by 8 am and cannot return until 3pm.  Unless the woman is a third shift worker or grabs one of the limited stay in beds, then she is permitted to stay in.

Building relationships with staff members can be difficult because of a lack of care for their jobs by staff members of the shelter.  This shelter needs to become the beacon of light to women it was created to be.  To provide hope and another chance at receiving a home and a new found life.  The Art of Transformation needs to be the ideology in helping homeless women recover, grow and become productive citizens in this society.  Cleveland citizens need to take a stand and pride in helping homeless people.  Feeding the poor and helping homeless people is great economics.  Programs need to be put in place and implemented inside the facility to help with the reconstruction of homeless women’s lives.  A new facility and new staff members with pure and not corrupt or hard hearts needs to be designed, EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY! 

In conclusion, I hope for more at the Community Women’s Shelter in Cleveland.  In my heart, I know this facility can and may become great with due diligence from service providers, staff and actual clients living at the shelter.  In order for a city to survive, thrive, and become prosperous, we as a people have to have a certain level of sincerity and care in our heart for the homeless and poor.  If we do not find a way to cure this epidemic.  We will only become another Detroit, Michigan, bankrupt and an impoverished and divided city and people.

Can women living under these conditions really be considered “enslaved”, especially if they do not have anywhere else to go?

Do you think that the city has a responsibility to help the homeless?

Editor’s Note:  Crystal took part in the Mock Ribbon Cutting and ground breaking in which residents envisioned a better smaller shelter which served their needs.

Copyright Cleveland street chronicle April 2016 Cleveland, Ohio