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