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