Important Stories in the Major Media about Homelessness

By Kimberly Fischer

 Homeless Youth Count January 2013

 Cleveland along with nine other cities will be attempting to count the number of young people who may not consider themselves homeless but do not have a stable place to live during the month of January, as reported by Rachel Dissell in the Plain Dealer.  This count will attempt to capture the number of people aged 24 and under in Cuyahoga County and will be done by canvassing and two events at Tower City along with an online questionnaire.  Homeless Youth Programs such as Bellefaire JCB, the Salvation Army, St. Paul’s Community Church, the AIDS Task Force and the YWCA will work together to develop an accurate count of the youth population.  This is the first time this type of count has been done in the country.   According to the Plain Dealer, the agencies conducting the count are planning a social media blitz as well as several other events meant to attract youth who need to be counted. 

Schools seeing more student poverty 12/27/12

In 2011, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that 21 percent of all school-aged children in the United States were living in poverty.  This is an increase from 2007 data which indicated that 16 percent of children were impoverished.  Over sixty districts across Ohio have seen at least a ten percent increase over the last five years while many saw the proportion of children in poverty double in that time. Rising poverty also presents challenges to educators as these children may not see a doctor when sick or have full meals at home. It is much more difficult to keep a child at grade level while they live below the poverty level.  They move frequently and struggle with finding the proper nutrition and health care to be able to learn effectively.  Although poverty makes educating more difficult, it does not make it impossible.

Details into the 13 Cleveland Police officers who fired 137 rounds into a car which killed two people               

The state investigation into the shooting of two homeless individuals in November 2012 was extended past the January 2013 deadline.  Investigators said two Cleveland officers heard a gunshot and believed it came from a 1979 Chevrolet Malibu belonging to Timothy Russell at around 10:30 pm.  The chase began near 2100 Lakeside shelter and was joined by 115 officers as it moved around the Justice Center out to East Cleveland.   All of those officers needed to be interviewed, and all the evidence needed to be reviewed.  Police then surrounded the vehicle and opened fire on the vehicle with 137 bullets riddling the car and the two victims. Third District Commander Patrick Stephens attended the January 2013 Homeless Congress meeting.  He assured the homeless that the investigation would be fair, and he pledged to return and explain the report to all those without housing.  It was released to the media that both passengers had drugs in their system.  The ACLU, NEOCH and many other groups asked for a federal investigation into the shooting. While a suspected gunshot was what initiated the chase, no gun, bullets, or casings were ever found in Russell’s car or along the chase route.   According to sources, neither victim had gunpowder residue on their hands or clothing. 

Columbus Ohio struggles with Overflow shelters

The City of Columbus defers to the non-profit the Community Shelter Board to oversee public dollars for shelter.  The CSB distributes local public dollars, and provides oversight to the shelters and does all the planning for the City around homelessness.  The overflow shelter was not ready by the first day of winter and so the existing shelters have struggled with finding space for all those who need help.  The CSB had identified a space and had renovated the space, but could not get fire safety approval and the neighbors objected to opening a shelter next to a day care center.   Finally, in early January, the shelter opened, but made the decision to do a “federal background check” of everyone who entered the facility.  According to the National Coalition for the Homeless which did a report on overflow shelters in 2008, these facilities open for a limited period of time to accommodate large numbers typically in the winter.  NCH officials have objected to a background check for a facility that opens in the evening strictly for the purpose of keeping people alive.  It is unlikely that the children at the daycare center will be present when the overflow-overnight shelter is operational.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle Cleveland, Ohio January 2013

Central Kitchen Will Transform Food for Homeless People

By Michael McGraw

Soon, residents of several of Cleveland's shelters will regularly get to share in the culture of culinary excellence that lately has been helping to put our oft-maligned metropolis on the map of foodies nationwide. Thanks in large part to the efforts of area native Chef Matt Barnes, the buzz around Cleveland's food scene will no longer be enjoyed exclusively by locals with ample disposable income. Even more exciting and encouraging, Barnes is taking steps to ensure that some of the training and employment opportunities associated with our restaurant scene are available to as many people as possible.

Barnes grew up in Berea and trained at Pittsburgh's Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts. Returning to northeast Ohio to start a career, he was involved in Salmon Dave's in Rocky River and the Blue Pointe Grille on W.6th. He had such sustained success with the Saucy Bistro -- another Rocky River attraction he opened in 1998 -- that he was able to sell it in August in order to "spend more time with my family and take a break from the everyday grind of ownership and being the chef".

But if you'd think someone with so many ideas wouldn't stay "retired" for long, you're right! Barnes told me in our email exchange that he wasn't actively looking for restaurant work when he got a call from a friend who worked for Lutheran Metropolitan Ministries, which runs downtown Cleveland's 2100 Lakeside men's shelter, among other key social services. "She told me that they were looking for a chef to head up the central kitchen and to help teach people how to cook, and the whole idea of giving back, teaching people how to cook and doing what I like really sparked my interest."

Starting soon, the Central Kitchen Barnes will oversee, will provide meals to local shelters including 2100 Lakeside, MHS, and North Point, and they plan to add more. "Our goal is to provide good nutritious meals that are cost-effective." Barnes also plans to make the operation into a working culinary school that gives a "hand up" to locals in need of a trade. "Men or women are welcome to apply to be part of the 6-month training program that will teach them a lot of what I learned in culinary school. Our goal here is to turn out not just someone that can flip a burger, but a high quality line cook that any of the top restaurants in Cleveland would be glad to hire. "
Sounds good!

Some local area residents experiencing homelessness got a taste of what's to come with all of this when Barnes catered the Hand Up Gala at the Bishop Cosgrove Center on Dec 6. We're lucky to have Chef Matt Barnes in Cleveland.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle  Cleveland ,Ohio February 2013 NEOCH

Homeless Stand Down Helps the Heart and the Feet

By Kim Supermutt Goodman

 The Homeless Stand Down was held Saturday January 26th, 2013 at the Public Auditorium on East 6th and Lakeside. For those who don’t know the Homeless Stand Down is an annual event that connects members of the homeless community with services and things that they need. Even though the event didn’t start until 9:00 am people were in line early hoping to get something good and volunteers got there early to set up. There was a long line, but everyone who was standing in line made it inside by 10:00 am. Breakfast was served from 9:00am until about 10:30 and consisted of cereal, milk, peaches, donuts, coffee and plenty of pastries. There was even a meal for diabetics. Lunch as served at 11:30 am and consisted of Salisbury steak with gravy, potatoes, bread, a salad, pastries and an apple. Everyone was hanging out waiting until their number was called so they could go through the clothing lines where they could choose a coat or a pair of boots, get a sweater or sweat shirt, a pair of socks, underwear, a hat and scarf and a hygiene kit.

Between breakfast and lunch there were plenty of activities. There were several rows of service providers passing out information about the services that they provided. There was entertainment on the stage, a professional photographer taking portraits, hair stylists providing haircuts, a foot doctor and health screening by staff members who really did a great job. It was really great to see that foot washing was offered this year. Even though foot washing may sound simple it is actually important. The feet are a part of the body that holds a person up and helps them walk but is also a part of the body that most people neglect. People who have large stomachs often rush though foot care because bending over to deal with their feet can be uncomfortable. People who have back or joint problems may neglect foot care because bending over may hurt them. Many homeless people who depend on showering facilities often have a limited amount of time in the shower so they focus more on other parts of their body instead of their feet.

The 2013 Homeless Stand Down had the best medical staff and a great podiatrist team. There were also many good service providers and the barbers and photographer were great. The only problem I ran into was that there weren’t too many clothing items for large people or for people with large feet. The women’s boots only went up to size 8 and the women were not allowed to get the men’s boots even if they had large or wide feet. At the end of the event everyone was given a bagged lunch and an all day bus pass.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle Cleveland, Ohio January 2013

Kazol Wants to Find a Home for Everyone

By Allison Lipinski

Dignity, choice and acceptance – not the typical words that come to mind when one thinks of homelessness, but for Kathryn Kazol, founding executive director of Emerald Development and Economic Network, Inc. (EDEN), these are precisely the things she seeks to bring to the table for Cuyahoga County’s most marginalized populations. EDEN operates and advocates for safe, decent, affordable permanent housing options and support services for persons living with disabilities or special needs who may have low incomes and may be experiencing homelessness.

Kazol, who was honored this past month as a 2012 winner of the Medical Mutual Pillar Award for Nonprofit Executive Director of the Year, identified early on that EDEN would design programs and offer support services for those people who have the greatest barriers to success. Fresh out of grad school and working her first job with Mental Health Services, Kathryn recalls seeing the impact of institutionalization and the stigma attached to those in society who were different, or who had signs and symptoms of mental illness, as “heart wrenching,” citing the unjust treatment of people who are different as one of her biggest motivators.

“I can never forget the injustice in our society with regards to the way we treat people who are different. I just have this huge motivation to change the way people who are different are treated and let them know that they are valued and that people care about them because so many people with disabilities are very lonely and don’t feel very needed, or that they have something to contribute because no one has ever recognized their skills or what they can bring to the table,” commented Kazol.

From its humble beginnings in 1991, Kazol recognized that there was a genuine need to maximize the available resources afforded to the people within the community. Starting with only one residential care facility in Cleveland Heights, EDEN began its work administering rental subsidy vouchers within the special needs population and sought to develop 50-75 units of housing a year, a goal that Kazol admits was very meager when compared with the actual need.

Since then, Kazol has rapidly grown EDEN into an organization of impact, owning and operating nearly 90 properties throughout Cuyahoga County today, including six permanent housing projects.  EDEN proudly serves over 3,500 low-income individuals and families monthly.  Additionally, EDEN administers over 20 affordable housing programs throughout Cuyahoga County, which includes one of the largest permanent housing programs in the country.  EDEN’s staff also experienced quite the surge in numbers.  Starting with just three employees back in the early 90s, today EDEN employs a staff of over 100.   

Such growth certainly didn’t come without taking significant risks along the way.  Like any fearless leader, Kazol’s commitment to fulfilling EDEN’s mission resulted in welcoming the risks that would eventually contribute to organizational growth and an increased number of housing options and support services. 

One such risk was volunteering to be the administrator for the county’s Shelter Plus Care Program, which provides rental assistance for hard-to-serve homeless persons with disabilities in connection with supportive services.  Shelter Plus Care (S+C) is designed to provide housing through private landlords and on-site supportive services on a long-term basis for homeless persons with disabilities

“There used to be a lot of skepticism whether landlords in the community would agree to participate”, said Kazol. “Believing we could convince enough landlords to participate, all the while not really knowing if it was going to work out or not, was a very big risk because the program depends on community landlords agreeing to rent.”

Seeing the success of the Shelter Plus Care Program inspired Kazol to continue to take risks, including getting involved with low income tax credit funding, providing funds for the construction of large permanent housing structures. Administering housing programs within this model eventually brought EDEN to its current mission, which provides a way of meeting people where they are and then helping them get to where they want to be. EDEN made history in 2003 by breaking ground for the development of Emerald Commons, a 52-unit permanent housing project, located next to EDEN’s headquarters. This project was the first of its kind in Cuyahoga County.  Currently, EDEN owns six supportive housing projects.

Why is it so important to find permanent housing first?  Without a permanent place to call home, people get stuck in a cycle that consists of filtering in and out of programs for various reasons, ultimately ending up back in the shelters.  Kazol explains, “People need a safe and secure place to live FIRST, then they can work on pursuing goals and dreams and working toward improving other areas of their lives that may need work. But without a home it’s pretty difficult to get started.”

An interesting item of note is that nearly all of EDEN’s permanent housing tenants engage in onsite support services, and over half participate in volunteer, educational or employment activities.  These support services are voluntary in nature, giving people the choice to seek support as they see fit.  Taking this kind of ownership for one’s future provides meaning and helps develop a sense of pride.  Kazol is quick to attribute much of EDEN’s success to “partnerships with over 60 social service partners and governmental agencies”.  In fact, these services contribute to one of EDEN’s greatest victories: less than two percent of EDEN’s permanent housing tenants return to homelessness. 

After serving as the founding executive director of EDEN for the past 21 years, Kathy Kazol will be retiring this coming July, leaving behind an organization poised to thrive and grow as they continue to fulfill their mission. 

“Founding directors are hard to get rid of sometimes”, said Kazol, “but after 20 years, our organization is very stable and in sound financial shape with a strategic plan for the future.” 

Kazol admits that there never seems to be that perfect time for an organization to go through a transition, but she is confident in the future of EDEN, crediting “great internal leadership and an experienced management team that is prepared to run the organization and take care of business”.  She also stresses the importance of maintaining a very mission-driven focus that keeps serving the needs of the community at its core.  Keeping consistent with EDEN’s proven track record of adapting to the changing needs of the community, Kazol encourages nonprofits to do only what the community needs them to do.

“Non profits should be in the business to serve the community.  If the community identifies a need, and it is consistent with your mission, the nonprofit is obligated to step forward and provide solutions.  This is what should drive nonprofits, rather than deciding what they want to do, regardless of whether the community needs it or not.”

As Kazol prepares to retire, the legacy she leaves behind at EDEN is built upon the founding principles of treating people with dignity and respect.  Her commitment to these principles will help navigate this transition and prepare EDEN to continue as the premier agency for developing and providing housing, and related programs to enable persons with disabilities or special needs maximize their full potential.   

And as for Kazol’s next chapter in life, she is greatly looking forward to enjoying retirement and has plans to do some modest traveling with her partner in their camper.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle Cleveland, Ohio January 2013

CORRUPTION IN THE COUNTY JAIL

Commentary by Greg S.

It is common to see many homeless people stock-piled in our county and state jail system, and I’m no exception to this rule.  I recently had a reunion with the Cleveland Cuyahoga County jail system and upon this reunion I realized how much that has been cut out of the systems budget as far as the quality of food, medical, and the Law Library.

 The Law Library is very important to prisoners who can’t afford a good lawyer to represent them, and have to settle for an attorney that the state assigns to them.  Many prisoners call them “public pretenders” instead of public defenders because most of them are overwhelmed with cases that they are assigned to represent and they rush through a lot of their cases that they deemed as low profile cases.  Without giving the proper attention that they deserve in order to ensure that each citizen of their county receives a fair trial as stated in the UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION.  Some of these lawyers lie to their clients stating that they need more time to prepare their case when the true reason most times is that they are overloaded with other cases; so they try to convince their clients to sign a waiver to waive their right to a speedy trial, which in a lot of cases helps the prosecution to build or fabricate a case against their prisoners.  Then there are people being held prisoner because they refuse to accept a plea bargain. What the state does is over indict prisoners coming through their doors to insure a conviction.

 While I was there I met a couple of men who dare to defy the system and refuse to be forced by the state to take a plea bargain.  Their names are Lonnie and Shawn.  Lonnie had been held prisoner in the County Jail for six years and has not been convicted of any crime and has not been moved to a better facility. 

This is both Lonnie Donaldson and Shawn Skinner written statement:

My name is Lonnie Donaldson and I am being held in Cuyahoga County jail system since September 23, 2007.  My trial was held on December 9, 2009 and ended in a mistrial, but I was never released.

My name is Shawn Skinner and I have been held prisoner in the Cuyahoga County jail for 14 months on hearsay evidence. My right to a 90-day speedy trial has been violated, and my job of 10 years has been destroyed. 

Can we really turn a blind eye to our Constitutional rights being destroyed before our own eyes?  Some of our children and loved ones might one day be entangled in this very same system. What’s it going to be like maybe 10 or 20 years from now?  It’s something to seriously think about and take a look into.    

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle Cleveland, Ohio January 2013

Cleveland Winter is Tough on Street Vendors

Commentary By Raymond Jacobs

Have you ever been cold?  Have you ever been hungry?

Wintertime for homeless people is the worst time there is.  You try to wrap something around your body to stay warm.  Without the Homeless Coalition of any city, in the United States, things wouldn’t workout.  I have never thought of homeless people until I became one myself in 1994.   Twenty-six years between two prisons and I was release with only $24 dollars in my pocket and nowhere to go.

They drop me off in a place called North Olmsted, Ohio and then I came to downtown Cleveland.  I stood on 9th and Euclid Ave. for years panhandling.  I survived the cold and the wind chill factor of 52 below.  Without the help of the Homeless Coalition I would have never made it in Cleveland.

 I grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana, and I have lived in Cleveland since 1994, trying to make my way back home.  Now, I have nowhere else to go but Cleveland.  Maybe someday I’II get to the Bayou.  Wintertime is the worst time for anyone on the streets; people will give you blankets, sleeping bags, they will even give you food.  If you go to the one of the shelters or drop in centers, they will at least give you a shower and a shave. 

 “Keep on trucking” because everyday is a different day and everyday is a new day.  Homeless people have there own reason why they are homeless.  Some of it is there own doing; sometimes it is because of the system. 

The City of Cleveland sponsors shelters, and they do not turn people away.   Things are different in New Orleans.  From what I saw, the Salvation Army, FEMA and The Red Cross all abandoned New Orleans in 2005.  The only organizations that helped in New Orleans, when Katrina hit, was the local Homeless Coalition and the Fire Department of New Orleans.

Whenever people passed the fire station or the Homeless Coalition of New Orleans, which is down on Camp Street, they got two poor boy sandwiches, and two bottles of water.  Both organizations helped people during the time of crises; before the National Guards and FEMA got to the city. 

I thank each and everyone for everything that they have done for us in Cleveland.   If no one had helped me, I would have never made it through.  I would have probably froze to death or starved.  So each and every one of you, I thank you. 

Wintertime is the worst time for vendors.  The best time is summertime. You can get around so much better and you don’t have to worry about freezing.  You are not going to die from the temperature as long as you have a little bit of money to go into the coffee shops.  They will let you in, as long as you’re buying something.   A lot of places don’t even want homeless people in their establishment but coffee shops don’t mind when you’re paying the tab, you can stay under the air condition or heat for a few minutes. 

Thank all of you for buying our paper, “The Cleveland Street Chronicle”.  When I started out it was called “The Old Grapevine” which I thought had a better ring to it, so does a lot of other people.  But we understand that things change, people change, and the times have changed.   So now we have a new name for the paper and they’re still tied together.

It’s a great thing to sell the paper, better than panhandling; you can make a few more bucks then what you did panhandling.  It gives people something good to read and it’s the best product out there.  Instead of panhandling, a homeless person should be out here selling the paper so they can make more money, do a better job because it is a job.

When you pay for the paper, the profits and proceeds are yours.  God bless you all, thank you and until the next time we will see you around the Westside Market, I hope or somewhere else “Thank you”.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle Cleveland, Ohio January 2013

How Each Vendor Sells the Street Chronicle

By Buzzy

There are various approaches that each vendor uses to appeal to the customer. 

Vendor one (1) uses the semi-polite approach: Hey there, help the homeless.

Vendor two (2) uses the quiet approach: they barely utter a word, but it seems that the point comes across.

Vendor three (3) uses the semi-aggressive approach: just basically can you HELP the homeless.  Thank you and have a great day.

Vendor four (4) uses the polite approach: Hey there can you please help the homeless today.

Vendor five (5) uses the comedic approach: there is always something to make people laugh.  If you went to day school you have all day to read it.  If you went to night school you got all night to read it.  If you went to summer school you got all summer to read it.  If you didn’t go to school get someone to read “The Street Chronicle” formerly known as “The Grapevine” for you. 

Vendor six (6) uses the very subtle approach: If you can’t get one person going in get them coming out.

Vendor seven (7) uses the combination approach: penny, nickel, dime or a quarter for the Coalition for the Homeless.

Vendor eight (8)uses the very polite approach: hardly ever asking you to buy The Street Chronicle until they come out of the market place.  Good Morning or Good Afternoon, welcome to the Westside Market.  Help the homeless and

God Bless You, have a good day and drive safe.

Which ever approach the vendor uses helps to get the point across to the customer.  Someone should buy The Street Chronicle because it is informative, the poetry is good, and that each vendor is proud to represent The Street Chronicle.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle Cleveland, Ohio January 2013

ACLU Responds to Legal Concerns Raised by Street Chronicle Vendor

By Kaylie Kinney

Attorney from the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio

Editor’s Note:  Greg S., a vendor with the Cleveland Street Chronicle wrote a commentary appearing on page 12 about problems with the judicial system as it relates to low income litigants.  We asked that he submit a few questions with his commentary and then asked an expert in the community to respond.  Kaylie Kinney responded in writing to some of his concerns in December 2012. 

Greg: Does not having a Law Library in the county jail violate our rights esp. to due process of law?

ACLU responds:  Under current case law, probably not. In 1977, the U.S. Supreme Court held in a case called Bounds v. Smith that inmates do have a constitutional right to access the courts, which includes assistance with preparing and filing legal documents. But in the 1996 case Lewis v. Casey, the Court ruled that this does not necessarily mean inmates have a right to access to a law library or ability to do legal research. The Supreme Court is only concerned about the lack of a law library if an inmate can prove that not having one prevented the inmate from adequately accessing the courts to pursue a legal matter. 

The federal appellate court for the region that includes Ohio, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, followed this reasoning in a 1999 case called Hadix v. Johnson. In that case the Court held that an inmate would have to prove that the lack of legal research materials was the reason a case was not handled properly. However, this is difficult to do since inmates have a right to appointed attorney to deal with cases and research on their behalf.

This issue was also litigated by an inmate from the Cuyahoga County Jail in 2007 without success. The court ruled that not being able to access legal research materials was not unconstitutional and that inmates should accept it as one of the consequences of incarceration. It seems that the right to due process (the required minimum amount a court must do to ensure a person’s constitutional rights are protected) is satisfied by any meaningful access to the court, and that so long as an individual has the opportunity to have an attorney appointed, that individual has meaningful access to the courts.

However, please note that if you feel your rights have been violated, you should not delay in contacting an attorney.

Greg:  What legal right does the county jail have to hold a person for over 5 years on a mistrial without that person receiving a personal bond?  Shouldn’t they have been released after a mistrial or transferred to a better facility?

ACLU: Individuals have a right to a speedy criminal trial. However, mistrials may not always result in a dismissal of charges and release of an inmate. A mistrial can instead result in a plea bargain or a new trial.

The length of time between a mistrial and new trial or plea bargain negotiations varies widely between cases and is very much based on the facts and situation in a given case.

An inmate will remain in the charging county’s jail until sentencing has taken place and the inmate is assigned, depending on the crime, to a state or federal prison facility. If an inmate has not been sentenced, he or she will not be assigned to a prison.

If you feel your rights have been violated, please do not delay in contacting an attorney.

Greg: Who is responsible for making sure that people don’t spend unreasonable amounts of time in the county jail?

ACLU: There are several agencies in Cuyahoga County involving judges, prosecutors, public defenders and other interested parties working in this issue. For more information, contact the Office of the Ohio Public Defender. Please note that this is not a guarantee that the Ohio Public Defender will offer assistance. If you feel your rights have been violated, please do not delay in contacting an attorney.

Current Cleveland police department policy requires that the city police charge or release suspects within 36 hours after their arrest. Suspects must be brought before a judge within 48 hours of arrest under a judicial order issued by Cleveland Municipal Judge Ronald Adrine.

Greg: Don’t we have a right to effective attorney in defense of these criminal charges?  With these public defenders assigned so many cases, meeting them right before appearing before a judge how is this fair?

ACLU: The U.S. Supreme Court has addressed the issue of the effectiveness of attorneys. In the 1984 case Strickland v. Washington, the Court said an attorney is only ineffective when the attorney’s conduct interferes so much with the trial process that the trial was unfairly prejudiced against the person the attorney represented. This is a difficult standard to meet, and cases are rarely overturned on these grounds.

Unfortunately, our courts are filled with low level offenders, and cuts to indigent defense budgets mean there are fewer public defenders to go around. This is not the way our justice system should work, but courts have indicated as long as the defense offered does not interfere with the process it is effective for constitutional purposes.

Greg: Is there any study that shows those that do not take a plea bargain are treated harsher by the County Prosecutor and are being overcharged so that they will plead to a lesser charge?

ACLU: We are not aware of any study on this precise issue. The ACLU of Ohio Foundation, with support from the Drug Policy Alliance, did publish a report, Overcharging, Overspending, Overlooking: Cuyahoga County’s Costly War on Drugs, which shows that low level offenders are frequently over sentenced in Cuyahoga County. In the report we found that fourth and fifth-degree nonviolent felonies constituted 53% of all the county’s prison admission despite the fact that those charges could be reduced to misdemeanors. Meanwhile, similar urban counties have much lower incarceration rates for these low level offenders. Franklin County sends 82% of fifth-degree offenders and 63% of fourth-degree offenders to probation, while Cuyahoga County sends only 66% and 51%. This contributes to other problems, especially prison overcrowding. Ohio prisons are at 132% capacity. Inmates from Cuyahoga County make up 20% of yearly state prison admissions, even though the county has only 10.9% of Ohio’s adult population. There are also race-based inequalities in sentences, with Caucasians more frequently offered jail diversion and reductions to misdemeanor charges. Overall, more than 98% of drug convictions in Cuyahoga County are a result of plea deals. For more information, visit http://www.acluohio.org/issues/DrugPolicy/DrugPolicyAllianceReport2011_0616.pdf. If you feel your rights have been violated, do not delay in contacting an attorney.

Greg: Overall, has the ACLU commented about the poor treatment low income people receive in the criminal justice system and the lack of effective attorneys in the system?

ACLU: The ACLU of Ohio Foundation is interested in the treatment of low income people in the criminal justice system. However, due to our limited resources, we are only able to accept a few cases or projects each year. For example, we have opposed the imprisonment of people who cannot pay fines or court costs and encouraged courts to conduct the required hearings to determine if people coming before the court are low income and are entitled to arrangements including appointed attorney and fine and cost payment plans. Our organization also works for systematic change by advocating for legislation and public policies which respect individuals’ rights. In the past we have worked to oppose excessive laws restricting the rights of sexual offenders, promote better access to attorneys for juvenile defendants and argued in favor of improved medical services for all Ohio inmates. 

If you feel your rights have been violated, or if you wish to continue pursuing these matters, we recommend that you engage a private attorney. Please note these responses are for informational purposes only and is not an offer of legal assistance or advice.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle Cleveland, Ohio January 2013

Family Homelessness on the Rise; NEOCH Remembers those who Passed Away

The 26th Annual Homeless Memorial Day took place on December 21, 2012 at St. Malachi Social Hall 2459 West 25th St.  at 7:00 p.m. at the Hunger Center .  This year the candlelight vigil featured State Representative Nickie Antonio who has a long relationship with homeless people.  Media are welcome to attend and photograph the memorial/vigil.  This last year we have seen a sharp increase in families who have become homeless.  We have seen a sharp increase in the number of families that have become homeless this year, and the Cleveland Metropolitan School District has reported 2,400 homeless children who attended school this last semester.   NEOCH read the names of those who passed away during 2012 at the Candlelight Vigil.

               Joining with other cities throughout the state and country, the Cleveland vigil included a memorial service from three local Christian pastors.  In 2008, Ohio legislators designated December 21 as Ohio Homeless Memorial Day. Every big city in Ohio has a similar vigil to remember those who have passed away over the previous year.   We have seen a sharp increase over the last four years in families and both of the big shelters in Cleveland are seeing issues of overflow. Locally, we have seen tightening budgets at the same time the need for shelter, food and services has increased dramatically.   We will read the names of those who passed away and had some experience with homelessness.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle Cleveland, Ohio January 2013

2012 Was a Year of Gains, Surprises and Progress

By Angelo Anderson

I work at 2100 Lakeside, Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry a Men’s Shelter as Job Readiness Program and GED Program Coordinator.  Over the past year, I have seen gains, surprises and progress.  Our GED program is continuing to grow and provide opportunities for the men to obtain their GED and for many to go on to higher education.  Most begin their journey having dropped out at the junior high school level.  Some have ADHD or other diagnosed disabilities that hamper their ability to read.  However, as the success of the program continues to grow and word gets out we are seeing more men attempt the process despite huge obstacles.  We had approximately 110 enroll in the program, of that, 15 seriously continue classes and four successfully graduated to obtain their GED.  We have to thank the Corporation for National Service AmeriCorps program, Cuyahoga Community College, Literacy Co-Op, Farrell Inc., L.E.A.D. Institute for all the help making this program work.  We have to especially thank the large contributions from our anonymous donors and countless volunteers for this programs continued success.

Our Job Readiness program has seen a steady growth of participants, volunteers, new partnership and increased interest from potential employers.  With the current economic status, we continually adjust our job search methods to stay in pace with employer needs.  This means teaching program participants to create eye-catching comprehensive resumes, bolstering interviewing skills and reinforcing professionalism.  Our greatest success in 2012 came with the SEEDS program; a partnership with Block by Block and the Downtown Cleveland Alliance.  The SEEDS program provided employment for fifteen 2100 Lakeside residents where they created and maintain green spaces in downtown Cleveland.  This program is a re-entry to the workforce for participants in a non-traditional and relaxed environment; giving them an opportunity to develop positive work ethics and leadership skills.  Eleven of the participants went on to permanent employment at Block by Block and elsewhere, two returned to college to obtain their degrees.

Defusing the myths of homelessness is an ongoing effort.  In 2012 we reached out to more diverse groups in effort to educate them to the face and challenges of homelessness.  Religious organizations, colleges, high schools, civic groups, fraternities and sororities to name a few have learned plight of homelessness.  As a result many groups have taken an active interest in the work we’re doing at 2100 Lakeside.  We have received numerous donations and volunteers; creating a network of willing individuals that can called upon a moment’s notice.

Thank you Cleveland!

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle Cleveland, Ohio January 2013