What is “Entitlement” When it Comes to Homelessness?

Commentary by Ramona Turnbull

On January 14th of this year, I attended the first Homeless Congress meeting of the year.  If this is representative of the participation and input for future meetings, I feel the Homeless Congress is going to be very effective in addressing concerns and implementing positive changes with regard to homelessness this year.  We had the pleasure of Councilman Reed attending the meeting, who has been very influential in the past addressing homelessness issues in an effort to make changes to policies effecting the homeless population. 

            There was a lot of information covered, which in turn provided enormous feedback on a number of issues and/or topics. One of which was entitlement.  There were many powerful topics discussed, but this one sparked a nerve in everyone in the room.  The room erupted in multiple responses.  Some were understanding, some sympathetic, some confused, and most got angry. Entitlement among homelessness can provoke a lot of different opinions or views, as well as, emotions.

            How homelessness is and/or should be addressed is a topic that many people have very different views or opinions about.  How homelessness is addressed in the United States in various cities was discussed.  Detroit, Michigan was compared to Cleveland, as well as, other cities that do not provide for the homeless at all and actually have laws in place to keep anyone homeless from sleeping on the streets, eating a decent meal, or having access to resources etc.In fact, in most cities if you are found sleeping on the ground, in a park, or alley way, you can actually be arrested.  In contrast to this, in Vancouver, British Columbia their view is to recognize the “dignity and hope” of every person.  A local charity there, RainCity Housing, created 5 city bus benches “transit benches” that transform into a temporary shelter. 

According to the Wikipedia, the word entitlement is defined as “a government program guaranteeing access to some benefit by members of a specific group and based on established rights or legislation. It is also defined as, “a right is itself an entitlement, associated with a moral or social principle, such that an “entitlement” is a provision made in accordance with a legal framework of a society.  Entitlements are based on concept of principle (“rights”) which are themselves based on concepts of social equality or enfranchisement.”

When rules, policies, etc. are implemented into a program, a shelter, or a training, etc., there is an expectation that these rules will be implemented and followed.  There are expectations about what was promised, how it should be delivered, and there is a human expectation to be treated a certain way.  When this doesn’t happen there is no real structure to correct problems.  This policies are not really worth the paper that they are written on.  Also, without input from, people who live in these policies about what is wrong, these programs do not operate effectively.  The Bible has specific instructions on how children, widows, and the poor should be treated.  This is where “real” entitlements stem from.

 In order to be a strong country, citizens of each city and state in the United States, as a country, must recognize and address the “entitlements” of its citizens.  It is the same for residents in a homeless shelter.  There is an entitlement to be treated like human beings, not criminals.  There is a human expectation to be treated a certain way.  There is a proper way to do everything.  When these entitlements are not properly addressed there will be chaos and negative feedback.  In order to break down barriers to end homelessness, feedback is essential.

 Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle April 2016 Issue 23.2 Cleveland Ohio 

What Can We Learn from the Cavs Championship

by Kim Supermutt Goodman

Congratulations to the Cleveland Cavaliers winning the NBA Finals and to LeBron James earning the Most Valuable Player for the Finals. While on the subject of Cleveland Basketball, here are some things to understand. LeBron James was born to a teenage mother; he was from a single parent home and lived in poverty during his childhood. During his childhood LeBron James met people who invested in him. Someone noticed his interest in basketball and helped him build on it. Someone saw the potential in him and encouraged him. If LeBron James had not had these special “someone’s” in his life do you think he would have grown up to be one of the greatest players in the NBA?

 Every child including those with special needs have an interest in something and want someone to acknowledge their interests. Every child has a special talent, gift or skill and wants someone to help them discover it. Every child needs someone to teach them, guide them or correct them. Every child needs to see that someone believes in them. If a child doesn’t know what their special talent, gift or skill is how can they act on it?

 There are a lot of talented people with special gifts and talents who have dealt with homelessness or have a history of living in poverty. Many of these people at one point had an interest in something but their interests were ignored or looked down on.

 If you are a parent, family member or a person who works with children or young adults take the time to invest in them. Understand that everyone who is a certain physical age may not always function mentally or emotionally at their age level so try to figure out where that person is and meet them at their development level. Find out what the person’s interests are and acknowledge it so they can see value in their interests. Help a person discover/develop their special talent, gift or skill no matter how big or small. If you see a person who likes to play a musical instrument, encourage them to play and become the best musician they can be. Never view it as just something they like to do or tell them they can’t be a musician because they come from a low-income neighborhood. Giving someone some of your time and supporting their ideas and dreams will bring out the greatness on the person. Everyone will not be a LeBron James but everyone has the potential to be someone great to someone with the right support.

 Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle April 2016 Issue 23.2 Cleveland Ohio

Welcome to Cleveland

Commentary by Brian Davis

Homeless people and social service providers welcome you to Cleveland Ohio as you debate policy and leadership challenges facing the United States.  We hope that you keep in mind the growing problems associated with homelessness and the crisis in affordable housing.   This is especially relevant in a city that was ground zero for the foreclosure crisis. You can see our pock marked neighborhoods of vacant land and abandoned properties to see how we needed a sheriff to regulate the housing sector.  With the help of the national model program the Cuyahoga Land Bank, we are beginning to come back from this body blow to our neighborhoods. 

 We are no longer the City that was responsible for the creation of the EPA with our river catching on fire.  We have solved our internal battles that almost lead to default, and we won a championship to get that monkey off our back.  We are no longer the punch line on late night television and we represent the suffering that is going on in America.   Cleveland is a strong city for community organizing, pride in unions, and progressive ideas, but we also want to see the division in our country end.  Cleveland can be the starting point for a reaching across the aisle to solve problems.

 Cleveland is one of the few cities in the United States that has guaranteed access to shelter, which has saved hundreds of lives.   We have some fantastic outreach workers who are committed to building positive relationships with homeless people.  We have made peace between homeless people and the City of Cleveland as well as the Cleveland Police after many lawsuits.  We have some work to do on the shelters in Cleveland and we are losing shelter space at a rapid clip.

 The City is on the rebound.  We have some fantastic arts institutions thanks to a tax that we imposed on ourselves.  We have a decaying infrastructure that we could use help from the federal government.  We have a rough road ahead with our public transportation system that we could use state help with. Like the art tax, we need a dedicated revenue source to build more housing.  We have a good music scene (check out the Beachland Ballroom) and we have some wonderful restaurants (check out Club Isabella in University Circle). 

 We need more jobs and need more housing help from the federal government, but you could learn a lot from us about how we have reduced veteran’s homelessness significantly.  We need to pass a voter bill of rights to stop all the fights in the states over disenfranchisement and we need to expand civil rights protections to homeless people.  We have an amazing collaborative to get birth certificates to homeless people that could be replicated throughout the United States and we did a pretty good job getting people signed up for healthcare. 

 Thanks for coming to Cleveland and enjoy your stay, but don’t forget to keep your eyes on the prize.  We need a United States to take the lead on justice and liberty so that we can all pursue happiness.   

 Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle April 2016 Issue 23.2 Cleveland Ohio

We Have a Lot to be Proud of in Cleveland

by Richard Grayson

’m proud to be a Clevelander at any given time but especially now, we hear a lot of jokes and negative talk about our city but we showed up and stood proud after the Cavs won the NBA Championship.  We didn’t burn or loot or riot when we win.  What we did do was celebrate. 

I am proud that we treat homeless people with some dignity and they don’t have to sleep in port-to-johns like in the 1980s.  I am proud that we have a nice system to serve homeless people on the streets and some beautiful new places built to house these guys.  I am proud of the fact that we have had a Street Newspaper for 23 years in Cleveland and that we fought in court for the rights of homeless people.  We have a lot to be proud of in Cleveland for both our sports and our services. 

 I’ve always thought my city was # 1 and you showed the world how to do it right. This is the best location in the nation keep it up Cleveland and Go Indians for two Championship Teams in one year. That’ll show them.     

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle April 2016 Issue 23.2 Cleveland Ohio

Too many poor people and not enough Lawyers

Commentary by Delores Manley

Anyone who needs a public defender is always getting the run around. The public defenders deal with hundreds of people a day.  So, when someone comes in and can’t afford a lawyer they don’t really get the attention they need, and a lot of times they end up with unjust sentences.  It’s not the fault of the public defender; it’s the fault of the system, which is underfunded so there are not enough public defenders.  When you’re assigned a public defender, they usually come in late and don’t have much time to look over your case because they have to go run to the next person who couldn’t afford to bring their own lawyer.   

I had proof that I could have taken my baby home (Editor’s Note: over 20 years ago).   The public defender told me we would talk after I signed a form ensuring that he got his pay.  He came in late and didn’t take the time to talk to me or look at my paperwork.  He then told me that he had to go talk to the judge and I ended up leaving court without anyone seeing my evidence, and I wasn’t able to get my baby back.  This was a heartbreaking time in my life.  I didn’t know that I could file a complaint with the judge against the lawyer for not bringing forward all of the evidence.  If you file a complaint the judge will ask you if you were coaxed by your attorney to plead guilty, if you say yes you can ask to be assigned a new lawyer who will look at your proof at a different trial date. 

There are a lot of homeless people going to court everyday who are misrepresented by these public defenders who are simply too busy.  If you are going to court and will have depend public defender you should bring a case worker or someone else to represent you so that you are not looked over the way I was.  Additionally, be careful what you sign.  Because if you sign something saying that you are guilty of the crime, you could sit behind bars and in the end be proven innocent while you would not be able to sue.  

The pay gap becomes very apparent to you when you come to court.  The rich can afford good lawyers and get to go to rehab.  However, the poor people have to go to jail and don’t receive the help they need for addiction.  Whenever you go to court dress, appropriately and show up clean cut-- appearance does matter.  You can always get a suit from one of the shelters, call 211, or go up to Unique Thrift and get a nice suit for very little money. The American legal system is not fair to poor people.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle April 2016 Issue 23.2 Cleveland Ohio

 

The Hearing with the Cuyahoga County Council at the women’s shelter

Commentary by Ramona Turnbull

On May 4, 2016, there was a long awaited hearing to address concerns at the community women’s shelter here in Cleveland.  This is the only single women’s shelter in the city for homeless single women.  There were 5 County Council members were in attendance.  This hearing gave the past and current residents of the shelter the opportunity to voice their concerns about the shelter itself and treatment by staff.  There were 7 women that chose to testify at the hearing.  Six were still residing at the shelter, but refused to be silent about the way they were being treated by staff.  Their concerns varied.  They ranged from the overcrowded conditions to the unprofessional treatment by staff.  For example, some complaints were problems with the intake and discharge procedures, staff’s lack of professionalism, no supportive services offered, and rules and regulations constantly changing.  The overall complaint was the toxic environment these problems present for the residents.

            After the Cuyahoga County Council members heard the women’s complaints, Brian Davis, Executive Director of NEOCH (Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless), was invited to speak.  His concern and dedication to give the homeless population a voice was responsible for the women having the hearing.  He talked about the differences between the women’s shelter and the men’s shelter (2100).  “The men’s shelter is twice as large as the women’s shelter, there are twice as many people there every night, and they are “spending the same amount of money”, yet there are no supportive services available at the women’s shelter.  

            The Director of Cuyahoga County Homeless Services was brought to the podium for her testimony and Q&A.  She admitted that “things are not great there “.  She further stated that “every shelter has its issues”.  She said that the focus of Homeless Services “first and foremost is to verify the funds are being spent according to the contract”.  The CEO of Frontline Services and the Director of Emergency Housing were next at the podium.  The CEO of Frontline stated, the he is not “minimizing or diminishing the concerns raised” and “their experience is real and I know that they are suffering and we work every day to try to resolve that suffering”.  He went on to say Eden has raised funds to complete much needed repairs.  He acknowledged that Mr. Davis does sent the complaints he receives directly to him and he “personally oversees the investigation of those complaints.  He then informed the Council members about the changes that will be done to the shelter as well as training for the staff.  The Council members then had a Q&A for both the CEO and Director of Emergency Housing.  Chairman Jones concluded that “we have to hold everyone accountable and from my position we want to make sure that we deliver services those that are homeless and the only way to do that is if everyone is working together”. 

            The Executive Director of Eden stated they are “committed to providing a safe sanitary secure facility for the homeless women in our community”.  There were two more women waiting to testify and they were called next.  One main complaint from one of the women was when she asks if she has mail, staff will say no, “but yet sometimes when I go, I get mail two weeks late”.  The last resident to come to the podium informed the Council members that one of the staff has worked for “all 3 providers”.  She went on to say that this particular staff member was nicknamed “warden by the previous service provider”.  She stated that the CEO, Executive Director, and Director “give good reports, but the reality in the shelter is not really the same unfortunately”. She further informed them that although she does appreciate their effort to get funding for renovations, the money is not being put to good use. She also feel that the “grievance process only has its name”.  She then brought attention to the 4 issues that were presented to President of the Cuyahoga County Council, Dan Brady prior to the hearing.  They are 1) Fire/Transfer the current shift supervisor at the shelter who everyone agrees creates a hostile work environment.  2) All grievances submitted will get a written reply in 5 business days.  3) All notes from health professionals will be respected.  4) Every discharge will be in writing. President Brady did take these into consideration. These 4 demands being met will be a show of good faith and greatly improve the conditions at the shelter. A deadline of September 2016 is in place a least one of these changes to take place.  President Brady agreed to try and meet the deadline.

  Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle April 2016 Issue 23.2 Cleveland Ohio

 

Remember Our Veterans this Summer

Commentary by Raymond Jacobs

There are a lot of young men and young women who chose to join the military. Many of them are poor. These young people give up their lives and freedom to serve our country. Being in the military is not easy. Soldiers risk their lives fighting in wars and going in dangerous areas. Our soldiers are away from the people they care about for long periods of time. Some soldiers die and others get injured. Many Soldiers deal with scars, injuries and tragic memories for the rest of their lives.

When people are active in the military, people look at them as heroes, but once a soldier’s time is up, no one seems to care. There are a lot of veterans out there who are homeless, deal with mental illnesses and can’t get a job. Why do those who served their country have to be homeless, unemployed, or go without their needs being met? People who come to America from other countries get treated better than our vets. When a young person gives up their life to serve our country, they should still be looked at as a hero long after their time in the military is up.

When you see vets, thank them for their service. If a homeless vet asks you for help, help them if you can. Homelessness can make a person feel bad, but having someone thank them for their service can make them feel better. Honor vets on Veterans Day. Remember the vets who lost their lives on Memorial Day. Just in case you didn’t know, Memorial Day is not the beginning of summer; September 21 is the last day of summer.

 

Editor’s Note:  President Obama pledged to eliminate veteran’s homelessness by 201. We have made substantial progress in Cleveland with only around 200 homeless veterans left in 2016.

 Copyright Cleveland  Street Chronicle April 2016 Issue  23.2 Cleveland Ohio

 

My Trip to Hell Also Known as the Norma Herr Women’s Shelter

Commentary by LaQuita Phillips

I never imagined I would become homeless.  We grew up living kind of in poverty, but we always had food and a house to stay in.  When I found myself on the verge of homelessness I went to one of the housing agencies in the city, where my mom works, in order to get help with paying rent.  However, I had to spend at least one night at a shelter before they could work with me, and that’s how I ended up at Norma Herr Women’s Shelter.  When I first arrived at the shelter I knew it was going to be a horrible experience because of that depressing musty smell that hovers throughout the building.  When I first got there my social worker gave me a little information on what I was going to do after I got out of the shelter with the housing organization in order to get into housing, but no information on how to survive in the shelter.

I sat in the cafeteria for a while just observing the people around me and then they went to serve the food but it was hard cake hot dogs and soggy bread.  I spent some time in prison and the food reminded me of the florescent gravy and rock hard biscuits I had for breakfast in prison.  Not only did the food remind me of prison, but also the constant sense of fear that someone was going to steal my stuff or jump me at any moment.  I slowly began to realize how much worse other people had just eavesdropping on conversations about how people were making money and how long they had been in the shelter.

I finally made friends with a little old seemingly mentally challenged women and we were just talking and all of the sudden these two ladies got in a fight and one of the women ended up getting her head busted open.  The workers came out and they told the women with the bleeding head that there was nothing wrong with her and she should just get up.  They told her it was her fault for mouthing off to the other women.  I still don’t know if she ever ended up in the hospital or just dealt with the bleeding head. My friend told me that was common here.

My friend took me on a tour of the building so that I could get a lay of the land and figure out how to survive for the night.  I went to the basement and it reminded me of the arena everyone was sleeping in after hurricane Catrina and just smelled worse than upstairs.  I went to go to the bathroom, one of the bathrooms didn’t work and looked like it had been flooded and the ceiling was falling in and people were using drugs in the restroom.  The next one wasn’t much better with what I hope were lip stick stains on the sink and hair and trash gathered in the drain in the middle of the floor.

I came out and knew I couldn’t do another day of this.  I still hadn’t eaten yet so I went with the hot dog stand and got a hot dog with my new friend and ended up eating it on the steps in front of the shelter in the rain because you’re not allowed to bring food into the shelter

I finally get ready to go to bed and after a long journey to get a bed I slept with all of my belongings on my body so that no one would steal my stuff.  They had lockers which you could keep your stuff in but unless you had a lock that was liking giving your stuff away.  I slept in a room with three other women.  One pregnant women on the floor and another very intimidating women on the bunk below me.  The women who had earlier bashed in a women’s head and her friends were on their own floor blasting music and turning up like they were at their own house.  Throughout this whole experience there was very little interaction between the workers, who were supposed to be keeping us safe, and the women in the shelter.

Fortunately, I only had to spend one night at Norma Herr and had a much more pleasant experience with the housing agency. They set up a price range that would work for me and after filling out some paper work I found house within two weeks.  They ran inspections of the house for you before you move in and pointed out stuff that you wouldn’t catch on to like a cracked step and got it all squared away before you moved in.  They continued to work with me for the first four months and kept in touch with me to make sure I was still working and kept me on the right track in order to make sure I was able to stay in that house after their time with me was done.  I’ve been working at McDonald’s and its money but it’s not enough to support me and my son.  They tried to take me off of food stamps but the people at the housing agency actually took care of me and got me back on food stamps somehow.  I’ve been living at my place for the last year and I never want to go back to that shelter ever again.

If I could give one piece of advice to Norma Herr is get some new workers who actually care about the people there and don’t let people beat everyone up. And work on your food, because it is inedible.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle April 2016 Issue 23.2 Cleveland Ohio

From My Experience, Here is How Homeless Live

by Bobbette

I have  previous experience with homelessness.  I wanted to tell you the readers how homeles people are able to survive.  Some of them live in shelters; some of them live on the streets; some under bridges; some sleep in doorways, and some stay in abandon apartments.  Some panhandle, some rob, some steal, some of them have jobs and they still live on the streets.  Some go to homeless shelters to eat and some go to churches.  Some of them have their mail go to the shelter, others have mail come to the West Side Catholic Center. Some of them get check and some don’t.  Some of them do something stupid to go to jail during the winter, because there isn’t enough room in the shelters and they don’t want to live outside.

When I was living on the streets, I was panhandling and living in the shelter or on the streets. nights I couldn’t make it into the shelter, I would sleep in the doorways in front of Cosgrove.  I would usually go to the West Side Catholic Center or Cosgrove to get food or sometimes I would go to Malachi.  I was going to a place called Cleveland Healthcare for the Homeless, on East 22nd and Payne, in order to get myself back on my feet. Editor’s Note:  This is the current location of the Women’s Shelter and was previously operated as a housing facility by Healthcare for the Homeless (now Care Alliance) called the Upstairs Program.

I had to pay for my room because I was getting a check.  I had a nice dresser, desk, a phone, and mini fridge.  Those who couldn’t pay would only come for the night and sleep on mats. I had a case worker there who helped me find my way into more permanent housing.  Some of my friends there were able to get jobs through their caseworkers.  We had nurses there who would give us our medicine.  We would go down to the office every morning and night to get our medicine.  Those who needed it were allowed to go out at night to go to AA meetings.  The shelter also offered their own AA meetings for people who needed it.  We also had a list of chores which we had to accomplish if we wanted to continue staying there.   The judge would refer some people to go there by court order for minor infractions of the law.  I’m very grateful for my time at Cleveland Healthcare for the Homeless and all of the assistance they gave me during that rough time in my life.

 Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle April 2016 Issue 23.2 Cleveland Ohio

Junior Was A Happy Child But Life

by Linda Henderson

Junior was a happy child who came from a family of five.  He was the second child.  He had stability and balance at an early age.  He was a very curious child and loved tinkering with his tools and gadgets to take things apart and put them back together again.  Laughter filled their home and lots of love.

Within a twinkling of an eye things became topsy-turvy.  His father walked out of their lives to sew his wild oats leaving a safe home where balance was not the norm.  His mother had to work two jobs to make ends meet so her children could receive an education but left him with the responsibility of babysitting his siblings.

By age 13, he left his home and a family who loved and cared about him.  He left the only love he know to adventure out into a world filled with violence, sex, drugs and alcohol.  With no father to guide and direct him, he had to rely on his wits.

Being proud, he wanted to make it on his own without any help.  He slept in cardboard boxes or the cars of friends.  To survive he depended on hot meal programs and shelters for food and to take a shower.  For clothes he would steal from the store and change at shelters.  He relied on Catholic Charities, soup kitchens and learned how to starch his clothes so he could wear them for a couple days. 

Then one day he came up with a brilliant idea.  He took his last change he had to buy pencils with erasers.  He got paper and wrote a note, “Free Pencils for Donations”.  Within a week he had $250 in his pocket.  So at an early age he started hustling, living life in the fast lane of sex, drugs and alcohol.  His first dollar he made doubled in a week.  His first meal he bought on his own was at a restaurant, it consisted of steak and potatoes.

At age 19, he joined the Marines and was sent to Viet Nam.  He became a big man and realized this wasn’t for him so he left to go back to being a pimp.  His girls called him Big Daddy and learned the consequences if they betrayed him.  Then  one of his tricks landed in jail, he realized his life style was destroying people so he left the life of crime and violence.  He was on a roller coaster filled with thrills.  By the time he was 43 he worked odd jobs to survive.  Now at the age of 63, he has mellowed out and has settled for peace and serenity.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle April 2016 Issue 23.2 Cleveland Ohio

I Love MetroHealth Hospital and They Have Treated Me Well

by Elizabeth Victor

I first ended up at Metro Hospital when I broke my hip in 1990.  I went to another hospital first and they told me I just had some cuts and bruises, but then I went to Metro and they were honest with me and told me that my hip was broken.  I was in a full lower body cast and couldn’t walk or wash myself.  My family used to bug me about it, but they were very helpful and my brother even took me to the zoo. Metro helped me figure out how to pay for the surgery, and helped me with therapy after the surgery to teach me how to walk again.

Go to Metro on Broadway they will do anything for you if you need help.  I have more treatments coming this summer.  I have emphysema, came from smoking too many cigarettes. I was with them 26 years, they fixed my hip, they gave me a boot lift, and they will give me a lift on my shoes soon if I bring them a pair.  Please go to Metro Hospital when you need help, they will help you and they will give a ride to and from the hospital if you need. 

I’ve got a possible death coming up soon, my Aunt Dede is in the last stages of cancer.  They don’t know if she will make it or not.  Her next birthday is July 4th; she’ll be turning 70.  Please pray for me and her.  I love you Aunt Dede.  Love Bambam.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle April 2016 Issue 23.2 Cleveland Ohio 

A Few Thoughts on What is Going on in Cleveland

by Jennifer Black

A FEW THOUGHTS ON HEALTH:

      Because of my health issues, I’ve had to call off from work a lot more than I’ve liked.  I haven’t been feeling well lately, I’ve been passing out a lot at home and at work. I think it may be because of my emphysema, which is always worse for me in warmer weather. Other than that, I’ve had a couple of CAT scans and things are looking well.

A FEW THOUGHTS ON FAMILY:

      I miss my kids. I haven’t seen my son in almost a year, I haven’t seen my daughter in a year, and I haven’t seen my grandson in about five months.  I hope that I’ll be able to spend some time with them around Thanksgiving.

A FEW THOUGHTS ON WORK:

      I’m glad that the Market is making the parking lot bigger, because more parking means more people to meet and more people to sell the paper to.  I love that the Market is open on Sundays—it’s one of my favorite days to work. There are more people to meet, and it gives me a chance to get out on Sundays.

A FEW THOUGHTS ON CLEVELAND SPORTS:

      I’m glad that the Cavaliers won the championship. Their win has brought more excitement to Cleveland. I love the Cavs! All we need now is for the Browns to win.  I like the Indians, but I’m not big on baseball. But anything that brings excitement to Cleveland is fine with me!  Other than that, I’m just taking life one day a time, trying to focus on selling the Cleveland Street Chronicle, to help the homeless, and to make things a little bit better for them and for myself.  I hope that everyone has a safe and wonderful day!! 

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle April 2016 Issue 23.2 Cleveland Ohio

Transgender Women Reflects on her time at Norma Herr and 2100

by Abby Bova

Robin Adelmann knew her whole life that she felt uncomfortable in her male body.  It was not until she turned 30 that she decided that she could no longer live happily as a male and began her transition to become a transgender women.  At the time that she decided to change her parents kicked her out of the house and she found herself homeless bouncing around between friends couches.  When she ran out of couches to sleep on, she found herself at the doors of 2100, the local men’s shelter.

When Robin arrived at 2100 she was living her life one hundred percent as a women.  However, no one informed her that she could be living at Norma Herr, the local women’s shelter.  When reflecting on her time at 2100 she states that, compared to Norma Herr, the staff itself was very organized, the food was good for a shelter, and the building was relatively clean.  Robin specifically noted how much of a positive difference the meals made for the men’s shelter, because they were well organized with shifts of men coming up to get food rather than a herd.  She also noted that the men were able to receive second helpings of the food, unlike at Norma Herr where they frequently ran out of the main meal.  Not to mention that the men would actually enjoy a second helping of the food because it was edible, unlike the food at Norma Herr.

In spite of the organized staff and edible food, Robin reflected on the fear that came from living at 2100.  Being the only transgender woman in a shelter of men, many with criminal backgrounds, Robin lived in the constant fear of being raped or jumped.  Thankfully she was never raped.  The majority of her torture came from the stares and rude comments from both the workers and the men staying at the shelter.  However, the threat of rape was very real.  After she had left 2100, Robin discovered that some of the men had been planning to gang rape her in order to show her what it really felt like to be a women. 

The location of 2100, in an industrial district of Cleveland, made it all the more dangerous.  While one cannot deny the fact that the women at Norma Herr do drugs, Robin declares it was nothing compared to the men at 2100.  Robin reminisced on the times she would be walking back to the shelter at the end of the day and several, typically high, men would steal her belongings in order to buy more drugs or simply just to have them.  Even after she had left 2100 Robin was attacked by two men from 2100, for no apparent reason other than the fact that she is transgender.

With no help from the case workers at 2100, who clearly had no training in working with transgender individuals based on the disgusted looks they gave Robin when she informed them that she is transgender, Robin finally discovered that she was allowed to move into Norma Herr.  Although she felt more at home in the women’s shelter, and the threat level was much lower, the conditions were far worse. 

As mentioned before, the meals were nearly inedible and there was no organization at meal time leading to a flood of women rushing to get in line and cutting in front of each other in order to make sure they actually got the meal.  This often led to another major problem at the shelter, fights.  Although the fights rarely became physical like the men’s, the workers simply didn’t care.  Even the manager would stand by and just watch the women fight rather than intervene.  Despite the inedible food, women are not allowed to bring their own food into the shelter.  When Robin first arrived at Norma Herr they allowed women with specific dietary needs, such as diabetes, bring their own food into the shelter with a doctor’s note.  Now a days they will take the letter and say they have to review it, the majority of the time you will never hear about the note again or it will be denied.  This policy also applies to women who need to rest in bed for the day due to illness or injury, often leading to women with sprained ankles or sicknesses being forced to leave the building for the day.

In addition to poor meals, the bathrooms were disgusting and falling apart and a majority of the women slept on mats on the floor.  The case workers also offered very little assistance and it wasn’t until Robin found herself a caseworker at Frontline Services that she was able to get involved with Eden in order to find housing. Although the staff could be harsh towards the women and did very little to help the women, Robin had a relatively good experience with them on a personal level.  In addition, she was quickly welcomed by the majority of the women at the shelter, and managed to avoid getting in fights with the women who were not as accepting of her.

When asked which shelter she would prefer to live in Robin responded, Norma Herr, if both shelters were gender neutral she would choose 2100.  When asked what she thinks could be done to improve the shelters Robin stated that they need to revamp the staff and figure out a plan to better handle the mentally ill and those coming out of the criminal justice system in addition to proper placement of transgender individuals.  She said they need case workers who actually get on your case about filling out applications and looking for jobs, because when you are in the shelter you can become depressed and unmotivated.  Specifically for Norma Herr, Robin believes they should have organized meal time like they do at 2100 and an organized way of storing your belongings, because in most cases what you bring with you to Norma Herr is all you own.

Robin is currently happily working and living in an apartment, with the hopes of never entering a shelter again.

 Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle April 2016 Issue 23.2 Cleveland Ohio

HUD Releases New Guidelines to Combat Continued Discrimination For Those Re- Entering Society

by Abby Bova

In light of the frequent discrimination against homeless people with a criminal background, specifically those of color, the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has established a new set of guidelines for those who are providing housing.  “The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, or financing of dwellings and in other housing-related activities on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status or national origin” (HUD).  This new movement for HUD will continue the fight for civil rights, begun in the 1960s, as they work for equal opportunity in housing for all Americans.  Kris Keniray, director of enforcement at Cleveland’s Housing Research and Advocacy Center states, “This guidance requires housing providers to reassess their use of criminal background checks and invites fair housing complaints by those unfairly denied housing.  It will be a powerful tool for advocating for the rights of returning citizens”.  As much as one third of the U.S. population has some history with the criminal justice system, with the largest population of incarcerated individuals in the world. 

It is no surprise that a large portion of this prison population, and those who have been accused and arrested, is made up of black and Hispanic individuals, some of whom are serving unjust and unequal sentencing due to racial profiling (HUD).  Over nighty-five percent of this population will be released back to their communities at some point and will need to find some type of housing if they wish to be reintegrated into society.  “While having a criminal record is not a protected characteristic under the Fair Housing Act, criminal history-based restrictions on housing opportunities violate the Act if, without justification, their burden falls more often on renters or other housing market participants of one race or national origin over another (i.e., discriminatory effects liability)”, according to the HUD guidance to housing providers release. 

“In the first step of the analysis, a plaintiff (or HUD in an administrative adjudication) must prove that the criminal history policy has a discriminatory effect, that is, that the policy results in a disparate impact on a group of persons because of their race or national origin.  This burden is satisfied by presenting evidence proving that the challenged practice actually or predictably results in a disparate impact”(HUD).  This step has been put into place in order to protect those who have been accused or arrested, but never convicted of a crime.  Additionally, this step protects those who have been convicted of non-violent crimes, which pose no threat to property and other residents.  According to Denis, an outreach worker at Metanoia, “Some people who have a criminal record decide to not bother filling out housing applications because they know they’re just going to be denied”.  This guidance requests that arrest records should not be relied upon alone and may be discriminatory along with a policy that fails to consider other factors such as the age at the time of the offense, how long ago it took place, the nature of the offense, and what the person has been doing in the meantime – is there evidence of rehabilitation, were there any prior or subsequent convictions, etc.  This step will be especially beneficial to young black and Latino men who are commonly falsely arrested due to racial profiling, as well as the rest of the Latino and African American communities who experience racial profiling (HUD).

Accusations and arrests due to racial profiling have become a major topic of discussion over the past several years, and HUD has finally had enough.  These false accusations and arrests are reported to landlords and frequently keep men and women of color out of housing.  HUD asks housing providers to speak more in depth with housing applicants with a criminal record to further investigate the incident.  The housing provider should find out when and why this crime was committed, as well as talk to the applicant about what they have been up to since the arrest and how they have overcome the past.  The HUD lead staff states that those with major charges such as arson, production of meth, and homicide can be denied without much investigation.  However, they ask that charges such as use and possession be further investigated.

“In the second step of the discriminatory effects analysis, the burden shifts to the housing provider to prove that the challenged policy or practice is justified- that is, that it is necessary to achieve a substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory interest of the provider” (HUD).   The majority of housing providers claim that their policies are in place in order to protect their residents and their property.  Most courts will accept this as a legitimate reason for the rule.  Therefore, HUD has further implemented a process by which the housing provider must provide sufficient evidence as to how the rule in question protects the residents and their property.  “A housing provider with a policy or practice of excluding individuals because of one or more prior arrests (without conviction) cannot satisfy its burden of showing that such policy or practice is necessary to achieve a substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory interest” (HUD).  Meaning a housing provider cannot claim that he or she will not accept a candidate simply because they were arrested, in the interest of protecting their property and other tenants, because the individual was never charged with a crime.  The majority of these arrests without conviction are a result of racial profiling against innocent citizens (HUD).             

     “The third step of the discriminatory effects analysis is applicable only if a housing provider successfully proves that its criminal history policy or practice is necessary to achieve its substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory interests.  In the third step, the burden shifts back to the plaintiff or HUD to prove that such interest could be served by another practice that has a less discriminatory effect” (HUD).  “A housing provider violates the Fair Housing Act when the provider’s policy or practice has an unjustified discriminatory effect, even when the provider had no intent to discriminate” (HUD).  For example, if a land lord says that they will only house people with a high school diploma, GED’s don’t count, this could be considered unintentional discrimination because the majority of the population who has a GED in lieu of a high school diploma are African American or Hispanic peoples who grew up in poverty.  With HUD’s new guidelines the accuser must show significant proof that the rule is discriminatory and then they may provide an alternative method that is less discriminatory, but still achieves the main goal the housing provider was attempting to reach through the rule in question.

       The first step in creating true equality is granting everyone their basic rights to food, clothing and shelter.  A staff person at a Cleveland Men’s shelter states, “HUD is the major player when it comes to affordable housing.  These guidelines are long overdue and if they are enforced properly they will make great strides in taking the previously incarcerated off the streets”.  HUD has taken a dramatic step forward towards racial equality in housing through these new guidelines.  As a result of HUD’s fight against racial profiling in housing, they will dramatically decrease the population of homeless black and Latino individuals, slowing the cycle of poverty.  By giving individuals a second chance and a means of escaping poverty the nation will be able to take great strides in eradicating homelessness.  Additionally, by providing housing HUD will decrease the nation’s prison population by removing individuals from desperate situations on the streets, in turn saving these individuals from becoming repeat offenders. 

These new guidelines cover everything from the private sector to HUD subsidized housing.  If found in a situation, which one feels as though they have been discriminated against in housing in North East Ohio one may to contact The Legal Aid Society of Greater Cleveland at 216-687-1900 or www.lasclev.org or Housing Research & Advocacy Center at 216-361-9240 or www.thehousingcenter.org, and they will guide the client through filling a complaint.  This is a big step forward for housing in America as we continue the fight against discrimination. 

Editor’s Note: Information found in HUD’s Document : Office of General Counsel Guidance on Application of Fair Housing Standards to the Use of Criminal Records by Providers of Housing and Real Estate- Related Transactions.  Search HUD Portal for a complete copy.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle April 2016 Issue 23.2 Cleveland Ohio

How I Became Homeless and What it’s Like to be Homeless in Cleveland

by Michael Boyd

My mother came to me one day back in the late 80’s and told me that she had cancer.  I was young working two jobs, one at a 5 star restaurant.  I started out as a dishwasher.  In a few short years the owner came to me and asked me if I wanted to cook.  I cooked for almost a year and the owner offered to send me to Culinary School and he would pay for it.

I had been moved out years prior to that.  My mother came to me and told me she wanted me to come back home. I did not

know what the word “cancer” really meant.  She told me she was dying.  Being the 6th child out of ten, for some reason she wanted me there to hold her hand.  It took her 8 months to pass away.  I told the manager that she wanted me out there every day.  I couldn’t work.  After she passed away I got real depressed and lost my job.  By that time I didn’t have a place to stay and I still was staying with my father at my mother’s house.  So then he put me out after 2 months.  I was still depressed, it was hard for me to get back on my feet, so he drove me to the shelter. 

The first night I was there I saw a guy get his shoes cut off of his feet.  The mentally ill wouldn’t go to sleep, it was really rough.  I worked for Minute Man for 42.00 a day for 8 hours doing back breaking work.  After taxes and paying for the ride to go to a back breaking job and back again I ended up with 32.00 and some changed.  The cheapest place that I could find was over 200.00 a month.  It took a long time just to save up that little bit of money.  I still had to buy food and clothes and I had to shake being extremely depressed.  I went to prison for drug abuse.  I don’t know what people might think that being locked up is better in the wintertime than being homeless in the winter.  The things that I have seen in prison are worse than I saw in the shelter.  I saw people get walked over like they were ghosts, so I got out of prison and said no more drugs. I still had to go to the shelter.

I started working again being a vendor with the paper, The Street Chronicle at the West side Market and I stayed sober.  I met my better half.  I got out of the shelter and we got a room together.  I had an opportunity to meet people, some I do not know their names but I had an opportunity to meet a lady named Ann who has a non-profit org called HOPE.  Now I am sober and blessed to be around so many good people.  Some days I still get depressed but when I see people that I know, like Ann, it brings up my spirits.  God is good to me today.  A lot of people don’t know that we are out here working, that this is a job for us selling the paper.  I don’t get a disability check or social security check, this is my only income.

I lost 2 brothers, one every year for the last 2 years and I want to add their names.  My brothers names are Eugene Boyd, he was homeless when he passed.  Vincent Boyd was my other brother, he was also homeless when he passed in 2014.   I also lost a dear friend of mine and I just lost him this year, his name was James Henfield.   After I lost these people, I realized that life was short and it helped me to appreciate life more.

By Michael Boyd

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle April 2016 Issue 23.2 Cleveland Ohio

From My Experience, Here is How Homeless People Live

by Bobbette

I have previous experience with homelessness.  I wanted to tell you the readers how homeless people are able to survive.  Some of them live in shelters; some of them live on the streets; some under bridges; some sleep in doorways, and some stay in abandoned apartments.  Some panhandle, some rob, some steal, some of them have jobs and they still live on the streets.  Some go to homeless shelters to eat and some go to churches.  Some of them have their mail go to the shelter, others have mail come to the West Side Catholic Center. Some of them get check and some don’t.  Some of them do something stupid to go to jail during the winter, because there isn’t enough room in the shelters and they don’t want to live outside.

When I was living on the streets, I was panhandling and living in the shelter or on the streets.  The nights I couldn’t make it into the shelter, I would sleep in the doorways in front of Cosgrove.  I would usually go to the West Side Catholic Center or Cosgrove to get food or sometimes I would go to Malachi.  I was going to a place called Cleveland Healthcare for the Homeless, on East 22nd and Payne, in order to get myself back on my feet. Editor’s Note:  This is the current location of the Women’s Shelter and was previously operated as a housing facility by Healthcare for the Homeless (now Care Alliance) called the Upstairs Program.

I had to pay for my room because I was getting a check.  I had a nice dresser, desk, a phone, and mini a fridge.  Those who couldn’t pay would only come for the night and sleep on mats. I had a case worker there who helped me find my way into more permanent housing.  Some of my friends there were able to get jobs through their caseworkers.  We had nurses there who would give us our medicine.  We would go down to the office every morning and night to get our medicine.  Those who needed it were allowed to go out at night to go to AA meetings.  The shelter also offered their own AA meetings for people who needed it.  We also had a list of chores which we had to accomplish if we wanted to continue staying there.   The judge would refer some people to go there by court order for minor infractions of the law.  I’m very grateful for my time at Cleveland Healthcare for the Homeless and all of the assistance they gave me during that rough time in my life.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle July 2016 Issue 23.2 Cleveland Ohio

Finally, Cuyahoga County Council Responds to the Conditions at Womens Shelter

Commentary by Ramona Turnbull

On May 4, 2016, there was a long awaited hearing to address concerns at the community women’s shelter here in Cleveland by the Cuyahoga County Health and Human Services Committee.  This is the only single women’s shelter in the city for homeless single women, and Cuyahoga County provides nearly all the funding for the shelter.  There were five County Council members were in attendance.  This hearing gave the past and current residents of the shelter the opportunity to voice their concerns about the shelter itself and treatment by staff.  There were seven women that chose to testify at the hearing.  Six were still residing at the shelter, but refused to be silent about the way they were being treated by staff.  Their concerns varied from the overcrowded conditions to the unprofessional treatment by staff.  For example, some complaints were problems with the intake and discharge procedures, staff’s lack of professionalism, the lack of supportive services offered, and rules and regulations constantly changing.  The overall complaint was the toxic environment these problems present for the residents.

            After the Cuyahoga County Council members heard the women’s complaints, Brian Davis, Executive Director of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless was invited to speak.  His concern and dedication to give the homeless population a voice was responsible for the women having the hearing.  He talked about the differences between the women’s shelter and the men’s shelter (2100).  “The men’s shelter is twice as large as the women’s shelter, there are twice as many people there every night, and they are “spending nearly the same amount of money,” yet there are no supportive services available at the women’s shelter.  

            The Director of Cuyahoga County Homeless Services, Ruth Gillett was brought to the podium for her testimony and to answer questions.  She admitted that “things are not great there.“  She further stated that “every shelter has its issues.” She said that the focus of Homeless Services “first and foremost is to verify the funds are being spent according to the contract”.

            The Chief Operating Officer, Eric Morse, of Frontline Services and Latonya Murray, the Director of Emergency Housing were next at the podium.  Morse of Frontline Services, stated that he is not “minimizing or diminishing the concerns raised” and “their experience is real and I know that they are suffering and we work every day to try to resolve that suffering.”  He went on to say Eden, the owner of the building, has raised funds to complete much needed repairs.  He acknowledged that Mr. Davis does send the complaints he receives directly to him and he “personally oversees the investigation of those complaints.”  He then informed the Council members about the changes that will be done to the shelter as well as training for the staff.  The Council members then had a Q&A for both the COO and Director of Emergency Housing.  Chairman of the Committee, Parnell Jones Jr concluded that “we have to hold everyone accountable, and from my position we want to make sure that we deliver services those that are homeless and the only way to do that is if everyone is working together.”

            The Executive Director of Eden, Irene Collins, stated they are “committed to providing a safe sanitary secure facility for the homeless women in our community.” 

There were two more women waiting to testify and they were called next.  One main complaint from one of the women was when she asks if she has mail, staff will say no, “but yet sometimes when I go, I get mail two weeks late.”  The last resident to come to the podium informed the Council members that one of the staff has worked for “all 3 providers.”  She went on to say that this particular staff member was nicknamed “warden by the previous service provider.”  She stated that the COO, Executive Director, and Director “give good reports, but the reality in the shelter is not really the same unfortunately.”  She further informed them that although she does appreciate their effort to get funding for renovations, the money is not being put to good use.  She also feel that the “grievance process only has its name.”  She then brought attention to the four issues that were presented to President of the Cuyahoga County Council, Dan Brady prior to the hearing.  They are 1) Fire/Transfer the current shift supervisor at the shelter who everyone agrees creates a hostile work environment.  2) All grievances submitted will get a written reply in 5 business days.  3) All notes from health professionals will be respected.  4) Every discharge will be in writing.  She reminded the members that these were just four of the twelve recommendations provided back in September 2015 from the Homeless Congress.

 President Brady did take these into consideration. He was gracious in inviting the women to give a de-briefing about the hearing after its conclusion.   These four demands being met will be a show of good faith and greatly improve the conditions at the shelter.  A deadline of September 2016 is in place a least one of these changes to take place.  Council President Brady agreed to try and meet the deadline later at a Homeless Congress meeting. 

 Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle April 2016 Issue 23.2 Cleveland Ohio

  

Duck Island: The New, Temporary, Millionaire’s Row

by Lucile Egan

In the early 1900s, late 1800s, there was a very wealthy class of people living down on Euclid Ave., Millionaire’s Row. 

“Euclid Avenue's "Millionaires' Row" was home to some of the nation's most powerful and influential industrialists, including John D. Rockefeller. Around the turn of the twentieth century, Baedeker's Travel Guide dubbed Euclid Avenue the "Showplace of America" for its beautiful elm-lined sidewalks and ornate mansions situated amid lavish gardens. The concentration of wealth was unparalleled, with accounts at the time comparing it to the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris” from Danielle Rose, “Millionaires' Row,” Cleveland Historical, at www.Clevelandhistorical.org

Now a days, you can still see the remains of those houses simply as a distant memory of the glory that use to be.  With the growth of the Cleveland Clinic and the new push to make Cleveland a hip city as it was back in the day Duck Island, the neighborhood I’ve been living in for the majority of my life, is becoming a new kind of Millionaires Row.

Duck Island is located across the bridge from the West Side market between Ohio City and Tremont.  Everyone moving in thinks it is the most ideal location for them to live in because it will be quiet at night, but they still have easy access to downtown.  I can tell you that it is not all that quiet when the police sirens start going at night.  Developers and real-estate agents have been coming around and buying up properties and building big houses with city views, and selling them for fortunes to all of the doctors moving in town for the clinic.  This is nice because I will finally have some normal neighbors, however these houses just aren’t the same as those that were built on millionaire’s row.  I don’t know much about architecture but I know these new modern houses aren’t going to last very long.

My friend Sheppy owns a lot of properties around the city where all of these doctors are buying houses.  He told me that these doctors don’t have to pay taxes for their first 15 years out of school, and our taxes are going up.  I know they are coming out of school with 7 or 10 years of student loans, but that doesn’t mean I have the money to pay higher taxes.  It’s been interesting seeing new people come in I’m not sure if I’m happy about having some normal people around me or if it’s just a nuisance with the taxes and modern houses going up.  I can’t help but look at these new houses as a passing trends.  However when the doctors move on there will be no big brick houses left in their memory like there were for Rockefeller and Hanna.   Things sure aren’t like they used to be.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle April 2016 Issue 23.2 Cleveland Ohio

Disrespectful RTA Drivers Need Retraining on Customer Service

Commentary by Tammy Hobbs

I am really upset with the way some of the Cleveland RTA bus drivers have been treating me lately.  Over the past few years the RTA has been in the news more than once for their rude bus drivers.  No one can forget the viral video of the bus driver punching a women in the face a few years ago or the homeless guy who was beat by the driver on Public Square. 

I’ve had a walker for about a month now because I have to get a hip replacement.  It is very painful for me to walk and my mobility is very limited.  Ever since I got my walker, I have had a lot of RTA bus drivers that disrespect me.  When they pull up to the bus stop and I ask them to lower the handicap platform, a service they have been offering for years, some of them get attitudes with me and roll their eyes, smack their mouths at me, and call me a slow names and just disrespect me badly.

Comments like that are not only disrespectful to me, but also to those who suffer from mental handicaps.  When they were hired as bus drivers they were aware that the RTA serves people with various handicaps and it should no come as a surprise when someone asks them to perform a service they are known to offer.  I just want people to know how I am being treated by some of the RTA bus drivers in Cleveland.

If you feel strongly that RTA bus drivers should not be treating people with handicaps disrespectfully, please call their offices or send them an email, not only for me but for everyone who has ever been mistreated by the RTA drivers.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle July 2016 Issue 23.2 Cleveland Ohio

Changing of the Guard in the White House

Commentary by Buzzy

 Ladies, and Gentlemen, boys and girls, people of all ages. The die has been cast, the opponents have been chosen, and the fight has begun. Yes we are talking about the fight for the White House.

The one who coined the phrase, “I am the Greatest,” will not be around to see the outcome of this Heavyweight fight. It will probably have as many punches thrown as in the ‘Thrilla in Manila’ or the ‘Rumble in the Jungle.’ But in the end, whether it will be the rope-a-dope, fancy footwork that gets the job done, or who comes up with the fancy words, rest assured we will see the Best and the Worst from Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

I happen to be writing this before the RNC or the DNC so I don’t know who their running mates will be, but they will, to my estimation, be someone who can offset both their negative qualities. I don’t know at this moment if the public wants to create history again by electing Hillary as President or electing Donald. Because it’s time for the ‘Changing of the Guard’ in the White House politically, I for one want to inject my two cents here.

I wonder if we’ll see a lot of people going up to Canada, down to Mexico, or whatever? Will there be as many women, or other groups, vying to enlist into service if it was mandatory? What will the ‘Changing of the Guard’ mean to American as a whole? We know both Hillary and Donald are going to promise us the world, but which one will give something instead of nothing?

We must know, as voters, that politicians are all about being magicians, con-men, illusionists. The question is - who do we most want to get the job done for the majority of America and keep to everyone happy, because once they get in, they’re hard to get out, and we’ll have to live with all their decisions, good or bad, until the next ‘Changing of the Guard.’

Or we as American and voters can make history by voting a candidate from the Green Party or the Libertarian Party. I know that the debates are heating up that Hillary and Donald haven’t chosen their running mates, but they are at each other throats finding any and everything to persuade us voters that they are the right candidate. Right now I am on the fence like most all voters in America. We’re “Damned if we do, and Damned if we don’t,” but we still must make a choice. This will probably be one of the most meaningful elections you will participate in as a voter. Whether it will be a Reality Broken depends on whose line you’re Firing from. What a choice, but one we will have to make!

I hope to speak to you again, after both conventions are over, running mates have been chosen, and polls have been taken and closed across the country. But until then, enjoy the festivities. We are in for some ups and downs in this Presidential Campaign. Whether it will be the polished machine of the Clintons, or the business savvy of Trump, there will be a ‘Changing of the Guard’ in America. God Bless us all and God Bless the United States of America!

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle April 2016 in Issue #23.2