Commentary: Thousands of People are Losing their Lives Due to Gun Violence

Commentary by Tammy Hobbs

It is so sad to hear of all the lives being cut short due to gun violence. It is also scary. I couldn’t imagine losing a loved one or a friend due to gun violence. Bullets don’t have eyes, and anyone can lose their life because of a gun.

Babies and children are also losing their lives because of gun violence because parents choose to have guns in their homes. Young children are finding the guns, and thinking that they are toys, shoot themselves and others in the home by accident.

Put down the guns and fight like a man! You don’t need guns to solve problems!  Life is so precious. Families are making funeral arrangements every day. Please get rid of the guns for everyone’s safety. What is it going to take to stop the gun violence? Stop it now before it’s too late!

Tomorrow is never promised.  Say “no” to guns. Today.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronical and NEOCH June 2015

88 Year Old Looks at Changes of Seasons

By Lucille Egan

The years keep rolling by, more and more construction, replacing bigger and better bridges, more and more newer buildings everywhere you look.

There are more cars and people.  I never dreamed of all the congestion and all the changes that would occur every time you step out the door.

One thing you can always count on for sure without fail are the simple changes of the seasons, you can still plan for them, there will always be summer, fall, winter and my favorite the spring! Yes the rebirth of trees, flowers, wild life and the smell of grass. So enjoy them all, I do, but especially, the spring.

The spring is when I was born. In April I turned 88.   

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronical and NEOCH June 2015

Survey of Homeless Population on What they Found Surprising

These are the responses from people interviewed at the Bishop Cosgrove Center or who attend the Homeless Congress on a regular basis in Cleveland.  The question asked was, “What is the most surprising thing that you saw when you first became homeless that the public does not know about homelessness in Cleveland?”

Buzzy:   A lot of young people were homeless and not playing with a full deck.  I couldn’t believe how the shelters treated people.  For example, when I was homeless if you did not make it to the shelter on time you had to sleep outside and these were guys who were not right in the head.

Jennifer:  Learning how to survive while homeless is so difficult

Becky:  The level of disrespect by staff and the people in the shelters was astounding.  They seem to think that we are here because we are lazy and not because of our circumstances that we could not control.  This bothers me the most.  We are moms and humans and we deserve more respect.

Samantha:  Staff does not do their job.  They do not help with housing.  When you are sick and you have to get a note of exactly what you can eat instead of just being able to bring stuff in to eat.

Mike B:  There are a large number of people homeless for their own reason.  Put out by my girl friend and can’t find my own place because I have been homeless.  Landlords won’t rent because I spent time in a shelter. 

Joe:  City does not help, especially with housing.  They need to move people along with the huge waiting lists for housing.  I have been on waiting lists for eight year.

Olivia:  No one could help me with paying my bills.  There were agencies and churches that should help people pay the rent but do not.

Donnell:  I could not believe that there were softball and basketball teams in the shelters and that they had a coach.

Patricia:  I could not believe that there was no place to rest when I got sick at the shelter.  They would not let me get bed rest and I ended up in the hospital.

Marcus:  The shelters do not follow their own rules.  They post these rules, but mostly just do what they want.  Staff can put you out and make whatever they want.  No one is making sure that they follow the rules.

Brad:  I can’t believe how much I have to wait in line.  For those who don’t know be ready to stand and wait for everything.  I mean everything!

Robert:  …That families do not get help first.  I don’t understand why families have to wait so long for help even to get a room at a shelter.  I would have thought that families would be the highest priority in Cleveland. 

A.B: There are so many people in the shelters who get checks.  Why are they living in the shelter if they get monthly income?   I was forced out of my apartment when I lost my job, but I would never come here if I had a check.

Rita:  I am shocked at how bad staff treat us.  We are treated like dogs and we deserve better.

C.L.: The BULLYING, Disrespect, Mental Abuse, Counter-Helpfulness/Inconveniences/Inconsideration and INJUSTICE, from Homeless Service Providers and/or their EMPLOYEES to homeless people!!!

Simona:  I saw a lot of people walk by men and not give money to them but gave to me.  So what I'm saying is, I think it's more likely a woman with a child to receive help from a stranger than single individuals.

Shari:  One of the most surprising thing that I saw that the public does not know about homelessness is that they cannot tell the difference between someone who is homeless and someone who is not. Homelessness does not discriminate... no matter what your status is in life. You could be sitting next to someone in a three piece suit not knowing he/she is homeless.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronical and NEOCH June 2015

Commentary: If Steve Harvey Could Overcome Homelessness, So Can I!

Commentary by Diane Robinson

I’ve been a vendor of the Cleveland Street Chronicle for about two years. I’ve been dealing with blindness for 29 years, and at one point in time, was homeless for about a year.

I recently went to the library and asked the librarian for information about celebrities who’d experienced homelessness. I was given information about Steve Harvey, and his experience with homelessness. I figured if he could get himself on his feet, so can I.

In an article in People Magazine, Steve Harvey said that in the late 1980s, after “one or two gigs fell through,” he found himself homeless. He lived in his 1976 Ford Tempo for three years, washing up in hotel bathrooms, gas stations or swimming pool showers, until he was called to appear on “Showtime at the Apollo,” which turned out to be his big break.

After I became blind, I would rely on my children to cook and clean for me. One time, after being extremely hungry waiting for my children to get home, I decided to get up and cook myself something to eat. After that, I began to do more for myself, including cooking, cleaning and doing laundry. I didn’t cry and give up, or sit around being depressed.

I started going to the Cleveland Sight Center, where I’m learning to become more self-sufficient. Before I lost my sight, I used to work as a nurse’s aide, and also used to draw, type and sew. Now, I’m learning keyboarding on computers; taking GED classes as a refresher; learning to read Braille so that I can “read” again; and knitting so I can make things to sell. I like to get out and about, sell the Street Chronicle, and sometimes do some babysitting.

At the Sight Center, they remind you that although you may not have your sight, you do still have your life. I believe that as long as you’re alive, there’s hope. If Steve Harvey could succeed at overcoming homelessness, so can I.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronical and NEOCH June 2015

Barcelona Taking Innovative Approach to Finding Jobs for Homeless People

by Joshua Crites

It is February and the streets are quite compared to the summer.  However; there are a number of tourists bustling around Barcelona taking in the sunshine, wine, food and culture.  The city changed itself into one of the most dynamic and stylish capitals in the world. Year-round the city is alive, and always on the cutting edge of architecture, food, fashion, style, music and good times. Tourists from around the world come to see art by Picasso and Miró.  Street performers and the sound of music fill the air.

Architecture by Gaudí, is attention grabbing.  It is easy to come to Barcelona and fall in love with the city.  Nevertheless; if you look closely, there are issues.  Hidden behind the beauty of the city is an unsettling increase in the number of people living without housing.  Homelessness in Barcelona is on the rise and the economic problems in Spain may make it worse before it can become better.

The financial crisis hit many low income families in Spain especially hard.  According to the latest Trading Economics report, there are around 5.5 million Spanish workers unemployed compared to 1.7 million in 2007, shortly before the economic crash. The unemployment rate now stands at just under 24 percent. Spanish youth are really hurting, with over 50 percent of those under age 25 without work.  Many jobs in the public sector were eliminated with almost 200,000 being cut in 2012 alone.  Those lucky enough to keep a job often have seen cuts to their income and or benefits.  Older people receiving a pension received cuts from 10%-20%.

Enter Lisa Grace and Hidden City Tours.  Lisa worked as a market research consultant and has lived in Barcelona since 2004.  After losing her job in 2012, she decided to make a change.  In the spring of 2013, Lisa discovered an agency called Unseen Tours, a social Enterprise in London offering homeless walking tours.  This gave her an idea.  She believed Barcelona would be perfect for a homeless walking tour project.  The city is one of the most visited spots in Europe and she believed there is also a increased consumer consciousness for responsible tourism.  Lisa decided to use Barcelona’s booming toursim economy to help put to work homeless indivuduals looking to improve their lives. 

On this sunny but cool Febuary day, I took a tour of Barcelona with Ramón.  He met me in the city center where we took one of the most interesting city tours in memory.  We touched on everything from the history of Spain to issues faced by homeless in Barcelona and where they turn to for help and support.  As we snaked our way through the streets we visited soup kitchens, places where homeless often go to sleep and spoke about the support systems in the city and where the system is lacking.  The tour is done in a very respectful manner to ensure nobody feels as if they are being looked upon.  Throughout the tour Ramón told me personal stories about street life and how the financial crisis affected people from every category of live.  Professionals lost jobs, spent their savings, and many ended up rough sleeping on the street.   

Ramón told me his personal story.  He was born in Salamanca, Spain.  Traveling is a passion for him and he lived in France and the USA.  While in the US he finshed the Culinary Art School in New York City and worked in many high class resturants.  Throughout the tour, his love of cooking and food was evident.  We stopped on several occasions to try olive oil, fresh cheeses or to learn about the various types of meat.   Ramón then told me about how he became homeless.  In 2008, he returned to Spain and came to Barcelona in search of work but struggled to find a permanent job.  He worked several part time jobs but a combination of illness and lack of employment left  Ramón homeless.  Things changed when his social worker heard about Hidden City Tours.  "When my social worker read about Hidden City Tours in the local newspaper she immediately suggested that I get in touch, so I called Lisa and the next day we met for an interview!"  It is clear that Ramón does not want anyone to feel sorry for him.  He works hard and focuses his energy on his son who still lives in New York and his mother who is 86 years old.  He believes the job allows him the opportunity to live a dignified life and meet interesting people from all around the world.  He is now living in a shared flat and continues to work on improving his situation. 

Hidden City Tours hires only homeless.  Each guide goes through a serious of trainings that last 80-90 hours before giving any tours.  If a guide’s English needs help, the company sends them to English courses weekly to improve speaking.  The company currently offers four tours including one by Ramón that focuses on food.   He leads groups  through one of Europe´s largest markets,  while giving tips on picking local and seasonal products.  In particular Ramon helps visitors find the best quality while looking at Spanish ham, cheese, meat and game, fresh fish and seafood.  In total there are five guides working for the company right now.  The tours are offered in Spanish, German, French and English. 

As with any city trying to cut back on homelessness, jobs and housing units are key.  Every job counts and innovative ideas that take advantage of a city’s economic advantages to help homeless is smart.  While many jobs are being cut in cities across the world, some cities are lucky enough to be hot beds for tourism.  Training homeless to give homeless tours is now happening in a few European cities.  Is this an idea that could be used in Seattle or other US cities?  I believe it is an idea worth exploring.  As long as the mission is helping homeless and returning as much profit to them as possible, cities with high tourism rates should examine creating similar jobs.

Editor’s Note: Josh Crites is currently a German Chancellor Fellow researching social housing and homeless programs in Germany and the European Union.  He worked with the Tacoma and Seattle Housing Authorties before being selected for the fellowship by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.  Josh lives in Queen Anne and will return to Seattle after his fellowship ends.  He blogs on social housing and homelessness at https://jcrites007.wordpress.com/You can visit http://www.hiddencitytours.com/ for more information. Crites is from the Cleveland area and now live in GermanyThis story appeared in the Homeless Voice in Florida.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronical and NEOCH June 2015

Commentary: Homeless People Changed Our World in Cleveland

Commentary by Brian Davis

The staff and board of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless are fortunate to have Michelle Russell as part of the organization.  She lost her brother in November 2012 at the hands of police aggression and then in May 2015 she had to face a second injustice with the only officer to face serious criminal charges found not guilty.   We published a remembrance of Timothy in December 2012 and we revised it here with the perspective of everything that has happened since.

Back in 2012, the family remembered Timothy Russell as a man of God who had a thirst for life.  Timothy had some rough times, but was trying to get his life in order at the time of his death.  He was a member of the Twinsburg Seventh Day Adventist church, and was fondly remembered by his Pastor Steven Valles.  Russell was a laborer, and had one son also named Timothy.   Father and brother Timothy had struggled with behavioral health issues and was living in a shelter at the time of his death. 

I heard from a number of people living in the shelters that they were afraid that relations between the safety forces and homeless people would deteriorate.  It was a sad day back in 2012 for the Russell family, the homeless community, and African Americans who see this through the prism of the civil rights movement and a setback in relations between the police and the public.  Since that time, we have seen more deaths at the hands of police including a young boy holding a toy gun. 

All this attention to two self medicating homeless people drinking a Coke in a 30 year old car that backfired.  They drew the attention of nearly every police officer on duty under the questionable intelligence that these two who met up near the men’s shelter had fired at a police officer.  Then the State of Ohio and the County Prosecutor investigated and determined that there was bad training, bad supervision, poor decisions, and one officer was charged with a serious crime. Many people began paying attention to the police and lost confidence in their judgment and were shocked over their “no snitch” culture.  Then the US Justice Department stepped in to say that there was a pattern and practice of excessive use of force and regular constitutional violations by the Cleveland Police Department. 

In the end, many of the disciplinary actions were reversed and the most of the officers were left without much punishment for taking the life of two unarmed homeless people running in fear of their lives.   The Police Department in Cleveland will be forever changed and the relationship between police and citizens will never be the same.  All because of two damaged homeless people.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronical and NEOCH June 2015

Taking Life One Day at a Time To Take Care of My Health

by Jennifer Black

The doctors found a spot on my right lung. After 2 months, another scan revealed that the spot was gone! I go back for another scan in 3 months. I’m making it one day at a time.

I’m less healthy in the winter; my emphysema makes it harder for me to breathe. Medicine helps keep me comfortable. I feel better now that the weather changed. I’m getting more rest. I’m also eating better. I stopped eating pork and I’m eating less red meat.

Sometimes in the summer, I pass out from the heat. I’ve learned to wear a cap or a hat to protect myself from the sun. People will ask if I need anything, and sometimes, they bring me coffee and hot chocolate in the winter, and cold water and juice in the summer. It’s nice to know that there are people, regular customers and the vendors, looking out for me.

My mother and I hadn’t talked for about five months, but we’ve been communicating a lot more often lately. I’m happy about that. I’ve been spending more time with her, and also with my daughter and my grandson.

I’m also happy about the fact that the weather is getting better. Work is good. I have fun at the market – talking to the regulars, meeting new people. It gives me something to look forward to. Now that the weather is getting better, more people are coming out which means more people to meet and to talk to.

When the weather breaks, you get more smiles. Summertime is when people really come out! Everyone loves the sunshine.  People stop and talk about their plans for the summer. Visitors to Cleveland are always eager to talk. I’m excited and pumped!

Although I enjoy my work, it’s not about the money, it’s about my health! If I don’t feel well, but have a shift the next day, I’ll call off because my health is more important. I try to not let health issues stop me, and I hope others don’t let health issues stop them.

Let’s all try to stay happy and healthy!

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronical and NEOCH June 2015

OHIO CITY ALLIANCE vs The STREET CHRONICLE VENDORS

By Raymond Jacob

In 1994, when I first came to Cleveland, I had $24 in my pocket, so I started panhandling. I was called the ”Mayor of 9th Street” after I stopped a man from raping a woman near the Huntington Building.  Everyone knew me in the area and I had coffee everyday with bankers, business men and women or police officers. 

I was a panhandler for fifteen years in front of the Huntington Building on 9th and Euclid. I talked to everyone working in the area including the security at the bank, the police…everybody loved me. I helped three purse snatchers and one bank robber get arrested. “Spare any change to help feed the homeless? Bless you. Have a Blessed Day!” was my slogan.

The police made a deal with me and another panhandler that if we testified in support of a panhandling bill that restricted bad behavior, we’d never be bothered by the police again. Helena, a social worker, helped me to not be harassed by the police on 9th and Chester, so I started panhandling on 9th and St. Clair, during the construction of the HealthLine.

When the Downtown Cleveland Alliance came, they got rid of everybody; the other guy and I were the first to go. Downtown Cleveland Alliance clean up crews got rid of all the panhandlers, including myself, in downtown Cleveland. Now the Chronicle sellers are in danger of being removed from the market area in Ohio City by the Ohio City Alliance a.k.a. the Red Coats.  They are affiliated with the clean up crews (ambassadors) over in the Downtown. 

Ohio City Alliance has fewer personnel than Downtown Cleveland Alliance, and their purpose is on a smaller scale of safety patrol and a little clean up around business areas. 

One Ohio City Alliance person in particular, is determined to get rid of the Chronicle vendors in Ohio City, because he thinks the vendors are in the same category as panhandlers. We’re not, because we, the vendors, are offering a product, whereas panhandlers do not.

Christmas Eve, 2014, a bank employee left the doors to US Bank on West 25th and Market St. unlocked. People were walking into the bank, but there were no employees there. I called the police. Then I called one of the Alliance guys to help secure the bank. The Alliance guy told people to be sure to not give me the reward because all “he’s doing is the same thing as a panhandler.” Now, he’s at the West Side Market telling customers the same thing. But that’s his opinion only. However, I did get a $25 reward from the bank, much to the chagrin of the “Red Coat” guy!

It’s time that the OCA leave the area, not us, the vendors. If anybody should leave, it should be the red coats. We, the vendors, were there first, and we need the money we make from our sales of the paper. We live for this. We depend on the sales from our paper to keep us off the streets.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronical and NEOCH June 2015

My Introduction to the Norma Herr and 2100 Lakeside Homeless Shelters

by Emily Garcia

NORMA HERR WOMEN’S SHELTER

When I was helping the women at Norma Herr Women’s Shelter with their grievances for the shelter, I learned that the staff treated the women horribly.

According to the women, the food would run out or was rationed, or sometimes, they’d feed them outdated food. Women who are diabetic are not allowed to bring snacks into the shelter they may need to have on hand in case of emergency attacks, or to prevent attacks.  Women with diabetes do not have access to special food to control their disease, and those who do not eat pork do not always have an alternative.

Staff don’t clean the shelter, won’t let the women use the cleaning products, nor do they address or get maintenance to fix up the shelter in a timely manner.  They do not let the women stay in the shelter during the day, insisting that they are only a shelter and not a job center or housing referral center.   The shelter doesn’t provide much for the women to do during the evening, and they don’t provide resources to help the women find housing.  This causes a lot of bickering and fights at night among the women.

The shelter doesn’t have hot water for the showers, and there aren’t enough working showers for the women to use.  Many of the showers and toilets are broken and out of commission.  One woman said that staff would tell the women that if they’d do some of the staff’s chores, hot water would be provided for showers.

Other issues of concern that the residents told me include: staff showing favoritism to some residents instead of being fair to all of the residents; staff losing residents’ mail; staff giving residents a deadline to remove their belongings from the building, but throwing away residents’ belongings before the deadline.

2100 LAKESIDE MEN’S EMERGENCY SHELTER

When I attended a Resident Council Meeting at the 2100 Lakeside Men’s Emergency Shelter, I learned that the staff treated the men there a lot better than the staff at the women’s shelter.  It was amazing the difference between the two shelters.  The men had lots of compliments for the way things were going.  The men had a few problems with some of the volunteers, but also identified a number of exceptional staff. 

The men there had only a few issues with the shelter, the first had to do with food. Complaints about food included: not enough options for men who are diabetic; not enough food; food being overcooked. It seems like the food issue could be easily fixed.  It was interesting that one trans woman filed a complaint about the women’s shelter and had previously stayed at the men’s shelter.  She had a good list of all the differences between the two shelters and how much better the men’s shelter was compared to the women’s shelter.  She wondered why the men’s facility allowed 120 men to stay in the shelter to work on issues during the day.

Other issues at the men’s shelter were the need for monitors in the men’s bathrooms and how to deal with problems with some of the residents who have mental health issues.  It was much different compared to the large number of complaints women filed in April. 

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronical and NEOCH June 2015

 

Need Extra Money? Train to Be a Cleveland Street Chronicle Vendor!

by Joyce Robinson

Have you ever thought about going into business for yourself? Do you think you have what it takes to be your own boss? What if I told you that after a 1-hour training, you could potentially turn a $5 investment into $25? As a vendor for The Cleveland Street Chronicle, you’d have the potential to do that!        

What is the Cleveland Street Chronicle? The Street Chronicle, formerly known as The Homeless Grapevine, is a newspaper whose primary purpose is to educate the public about issues raised by people who are homeless.

In order to become independent vendors of the Street Chronicle, individuals must go through a one-hour training program and a 30-day trial/probationary period. Weekly vendor trainings are held on Tuesday mornings at 10:30 a.m. at the NEOCH (Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless) offices at 3631 Perkins Avenue on the third floor.

There is a Street Chronicle Vendor Contract, which lists 31 non-negotiable rules for being a vendor. This contract is a protection for the vendors, as well as, for the Chronicle staff. The Vendor Contract is signed by the vendor and by a Chronicle staff member. Rules for “vendor etiquette,”  how to treat fellow vendors and customers and when, where and how to sell the Chronicle, are included in the contract.

Potential vendors learn when to sell the newspaper– not after midnight; where to sell the newspaper –at the West Side Market, initially; and how to sell the newspaper – in the vendor uniform, displaying either their temporary, or their 30-day permanent badge. The vendor purchases the newspaper at the NEOCH office for twenty-five cents ($.25) a copy, and can sell it for $1.25 a copy. With a five-dollar investment, which is 20 papers, a vendor has the potential to make $25.

After the training, a vendor is initially issued a temporary identification badge. After selling 200 newspapers, vendors are issued a permanent badge and a uniform. In order to receive their permanent uniform and to be allowed to sell the Chronicle in downtown Cleveland, and other areas in the city, vendors must also receive training from The Downtown Cleveland Alliance. Active vendors must attend bi-weekly meetings where they bid to work shifts at the West Side Market.

After a person has taken the vendor training, there is no obligation to sell the Street Chronicle.  Selling the Street Chronicle is totally voluntary. The number of hours you work per week + the number of papers you sell = the amount of money you can make.

Would you be willing to work?  How much money would you be willing to invest to make that dream a reality?

That being said, how much you make is entirely up to you.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronical and NEOCH June 2015

Local News Updates Around Homelessness and Housing

By Brian Davis

Central Intake Moves into their Own Offices

In February, the Central Intake site moved from the shelters to the Bishop Cosgrove Center on the second floor.  This means that everyone seeking shelter in Cuyahoga County goes to one place to complete an application for help.  This is extremely helpful for those who are unwilling to go into a shelter to seek help because all homeless assistance goes through Coordinated Intake.  They are on the second floor of 1736 Superior and are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. everyday.

NEOCH and the Housing Center Offer Training

NEOCH has organized trainings to teach housing caseworkers about affordable housing in partnership with the Housing Center.   They have featured 45 people at a time and the next training is in October 2015.  The trainings feature the Veterans Affairs Department, Frontline Services and the Cleveland Housing Court and have become popular.  The hope is to get people more familiar with the affordable housing landscape, fair housing laws, the Housing Cleveland website, and the eviction process in Cleveland. 

Cleveland Shelter Remain Calm After Not Guilty Verdict

The 60 plus officer chase of Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell began in front of 2100 Lakeside Shelter and ended in a hail of 137 bullets in an East Cleveland elementary school.  After the not guilty verdict in the one officer charged with a felony involved in this case, there were no issues at the Cleveland shelters.  Both Williams and Russell were homeless, and Williams was well known throughout the homeless community.  NEOCH will offer time on the agenda at an upcoming Homeless Congress to Police officials now that the court cases are winding down to explain all that went wrong with this case. 

Cleveland Approaches Functional Zero for Veterans

Frontline Services, Volunteers of America, and the Department of Veterans Affairs are close to declaring “functional zero” number of homeless veterans in Cuyahoga County.  We anticipate an announcement in the near future that Cleveland has effectively solved homelessness among veterans.  The County has seen only a small number of veterans living outside (2 in May 2015) and everyone in shelter has a plan to move into housing in the near future.  There are vacant beds in the veteran only shelters and there are resources available to get veterans into housing.   This shows that with political will and resources, government can accomplish anything in the United States.

Homeless Congress Focuses on Problems at the Women’s Shelter

County Councilwoman Yvonne Conwell attended the May 2015 Homeless Congress and heard an earful about the conditions with the shelters.  Conwell is a previous staff person of Care Alliance and had actually worked at a previous women’s entry shelter.  She heard about problems with bed rest, grievances, and staff disrespect especially at the Community Women’s shelter called the Norma Herr Center.  She said that she would take the concerns back to the County Council to see if there was interest in legislation or at least improvement in the regulations. 

Cleveland Tough Featured Two from the Homeless Community

WCPN did a series called “Cleveland Tough” which featured people who had overcome adversity and are succeeding.  This program (www.wcpn.ideastream.org/tags/cleveland-tough) featured two individuals working in the homeless community in Greater Cleveland.  One was Metanoia program staff and St. Herman’s chef, Carl Cook who overcame gangs and homeless to get his life back in order.  The other was NEOCH staff member and veteran, Joyce Robinson who left shelter and found housing earlier this year.  Both are now giving back by working to help other homeless people find stability.  Pictured here is Robinson helping to put together items for the Socks Plus Campaign. 

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronical and NEOCH June 2015

 

Learning to Use Social Media

By Kim Supermutt Goodman

I know if I want to become a successful writer I must get myself out there, not just locally but nationally too. I figure if there are means to communicate I should take advantage of it. If people get familiar with me and know who I am and what I am about they will get excited about my writing when I get to the point where I am able to self-publish my books.

The first social media I used was Myspace, but I got bored with it once I discovered Facebook. I liked Facebook because I could interact with people I know and with people I met and wanted to keep in contact with. I also liked playing the games. After fooling around with Facebook for a while I found out that you can create a business “like” page to keep your business and personal page separate. I created two business pages, one for my writing “Special Books Project” and one for the products I make and sell, “Supermutt’s World Unlimited.”

I then played around with Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram and managed to get the same username, Supermutt101. Twitter allows you to post small messages they call “tweets” and Pinterest and Instagram allows you to use pictures but Pinterest lets you put them in different folders called “boards.” I did open a Tumblr account but I couldn’t find enough users I knew to use it but it’s still active. I experimented with WordPress briefly but I haven’t been on it since January.

In addition to social media I played around with website building. I bought a few web domains. I don’t have a whole lot on them but they are good to have for when I really get into promoting myself online. I chose the domain specialbooksproject.org for my books because each of my books touch on subjects that are nontraditional. Each book will have at least one character that a have developmental disability, a mental illness, a battle with homelessness or an addiction problem. I chose the name supermuttsmegamall.com which was my first domain ending with .com. So far it’s a small website with not too much on it but one day I hope to be able to expand it.

My ending plans for my .org domain is to create awareness to special issues that exist that a lot of well off people never took the time to think about. I want people to see example of homelessness, examples of what it may feel like for a person to deal with a disability or a difference and how it may feel to deal with an addiction problem. If you have never been homeless, never had a disability or never had an addiction problem you might not understand why a person does the things they do. If you know somebody with a disability or an addiction problem or see a homeless person then maybe my written words can help you see the person in a different or more positive way.

My ending plans for my .com is to create an online mall where I can sell many different products from one website. Each product will have their own page and at the end a page that has a link to other sites that sell products that I don’t sell. I also want to add an affiliate marketing page to my website too. My goal is to give my visitors and potential customers the opportunity to visit one website and get everything they need and a few things they didn’t want or need but saw and liked.

If people know me locally and online they can watch me grow and when it comes time for me to move forward I can promote my ideas and products to my local and online circle of friends and acquaintances. I hope one day I can be a successful entrepreneur. For once in my life I would love to live comfortable and have nice things. I’ve been struggling much too long. One day I would love to say I was born with a social communication disorder, ended up homeless as a young adult, sold street newspapers and acted as a voice for the homeless and low-income, but now I’m a well off entrepreneur. 

Thank you to all my customers who buy the paper from me and make contributions. I really appreciate it. I want you all to know that your kind words and generosity helps me to stay focused on following my dreams. I enjoy selling the Cleveland Street Chronicle and seeing all the familiar faces. Each time a person reads my article, tells me they liked my article or asks me if I wrote anything in the paper this issue, it motivates me to write more. Sure, I can use the money but I need kind words just as much. I don’t always have a lot of supportive people in my corner.   

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronical and NEOCH June 2015

Homeless Veterans Need Our Help in Cleveland

By Mike Owens

I think our homeless veterans, need to be treated better than they are. They need decent, affordable places to live. They also need better medical assistance and help so that they can get their lives in order. Society should do more for the veterans and treat them with respect instead of turning their backs on them.

There is the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), which “serves veterans and service members who incurred a physical or mental injury, illness, or wound, co-incident to their military service on or after September 11, 2001 and their families.” WWP’s purpose is  “…to raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members; to help injured service members aid and assist each other; and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of injured service members.”

It’s great that there are programs like WWP to help aid injured veterans and their families, but, what about the homeless veterans? How about helping homeless veterans from previous wars? Society should not turn their backs on homeless veterans. Why not rehab abandoned houses and buildings and use them to house homeless veterans? If it wasn’t for the veterans, serving and protecting our country we wouldn’t be here right now.

God bless our vets for protecting and serving our country. Homeless veterans deserve a place to live; not on the streets where they could get hurt or freeze in the winter. They shouldn’t have to fight for their lives on foreign soil, come home, and then fight for their lives all over again.                                                                                                  

God Bless America!         

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronical and NEOCH June 2015

Commentary: Finding a job in Cleveland Can Be Difficult

Commentary by Ken

Trying to find a job in Cleveland, is a job in itself.  In today’s world, the job search is stressful enough when you don’t have a criminal record, so we know if you have had a scrape with the law, you will find that employers will be reluctant to hire you. But if a person has paid their debt for what they did, they should be able to redeem themselves. 

You have to keep trying, and there are temporary labor agencies that can help. Some agencies check your background, some don’t. Personally I think they should check out your resume, and job experience. If they are interested, then an interview would be the next step. That’s when you could answer their questions about your job experience, and other things that they would like to know about your background. You should get an opportunity to explain the circumstances of the crime, to point out how long it has been since it was committed, and to present evidence of rehabilitation.

 It would be nice if employers would give you that chance to explain your background, but until that happens, you have to keep getting out there looking for work. If you keep looking, have faith in what you are doing, and do not give up, you will be all right.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronical and NEOCH June 2015

Rough Winter Puts a Strain on Finances

By Dolores Manley

I am writing about how the cold weather affected me while working to sell the paper.  I sell this paper. This winter was a little rougher than the past winters. The temperature was below zero at times, so I only did my shifts at the West Side Market.  On Mondays, when it is not busy, I would go grocery shopping.

I lost a few hundred dollars because of the cold winter, and not being able to sell many papers.  I did get a chance to see my friend Gregg, who owns Gregg Produce store. I shop there sometimes. He gives me nice prices on meat.   I’m pretty sure his prices are good for everyone. He is a good person. His business was a little slow also because of the weather.

I also worked at the Laboja, at Jefferson Deli. My boss Mike had to lay me off because of the cold weather. This put a strain on my income, so I had to move in a roommate to make ends meet. But you have to keep trying to make it work and do what you can do to survive. The weather is getting better and things are beginning to work out for me. But I did learn that I will have to prepare myself better next winter. Since getting a roommate, I have been able to get on track, so I am very thankful.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronical and NEOCH June 2015

We Still Sell the Paper on the Coldest Days of the Year

by Michael Boyd

I awoke one cold day in March at about 7:30 a.m. I did not want to get up, but now that I have an apartment, I have no choice. Bills have to be paid.

I left the house at 8:30 a.m. and went to St Augustine Church to have lunch. I saw faces that I have not seen in a while, like June who works for Sister Corita, Fish and Jack. After I got a few clothing items from the church and ate lunch, it was time to go to work. Even though it’s bitter cold outside, I go to work because I still have to pay the bills or be homeless.

I see a few people that I know, who choose to give me money even though they already have the paper. The guy at the hot dog stand lets me eat, even though I may be a little short on money.

There is a lady who has a vegetable stand, Connie, who gives me produce and such; that really helps me out. Then I see the flower man named McGuyner, who helps me out by giving me flowers sometimes.

My shift is over. I made $26. Even though I didn’t make much money, I was able to spread the word about donating various items to St. Patrick’s, St. Augustus, and the West Side Catholic Center.

The day was a good day.

P.S. – I would like to give a special thanks to a young man who gave me a picture.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronical and NEOCH June 2015

Students at Cleveland Institute of Art Create Maps for Homeless People

By Alyssa Brown

From article in the CIA newsletter

At the Cleveland Institute of Art, instructor Sai Sinbondit is holding a course called projectFIND, a class focused using their skills to aid homeless people in the Cleveland community.  The three students in this class all had some history dealing with homeless people, which drew them to take the course.  Each student had to meet with representatives of social service organizations and homeless individuals in the local shelters to discuss and get an idea of what the students needed to create with their project.  Ultimately, the students designed a pocket-sized resource maps for the homeless.  They looked at the existing Homeless Street Card and the entry shelters in Cleveland. 

Through this project, it is hoped that students of art and artists will take a different look at their work and see how it can affect the world around them.   The art students were involved because maps are often pieces of functional art that can become iconic such as the Metro Map in DC or the NYC Subway.  The students who participated in the project said the whole process opened their eyes to the situation homeless people face everyday. 

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronical and NEOCH June 2015

Commentary: I Question Why We Let Homeless People Sleep Outside

Commentary by Bobbette Robinson                            

Should there be a law against homeless people sleeping outside?  

I really wonder why we let homeless people sleeping outside? Why do they have to sleep in doorways Downtown? Should they be able to sleep in empty buildings and empty houses? It’s not safe for people traveling to and from the bus. Is it safe homeless to live outside?

Should some homeless people rape and rob other homeless people in order to get their next fix? One homeless man raped a woman and got four years in prison. How does his felony affect his ability to get housing in the future?  How many years will he be homeless after he gets out because of his prison background and the fact that he is a sexually based offender?  How many years will he be unsupervised living outside because he will not be able to rent an apartment or get a job?

Should members of the homeless population harass people by panhandling? I’ve been a vendor of the Street Chronicle for about five years. If homeless people want money, should they consider training to be a vendor, and making honest money by selling the Street Chronicle?

Should empty buildings be turned into, and used as shelters? If they aren’t used as shelters, should they be torn down for the safety and protection not only of the average person, but for the homeless as well?

Should we round up those sleeping outside, in doorways and empty buildings, and take them to shelters? If they don’t want to go to a shelter, should we ticket them? If they don’t have an income, should they be made to do community service in order to pay off the ticket? And again, how will this affect their ability to gain housing in the future?

Some things to think about.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronical and NEOCH June 2015

 

2015 Annual Meeting Awards

The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless gives out awards at their annual meeting every year.  This year the following people won the award, and all accepted the award in person.  All the previous award winners are listed on the NEOCH website on the “About Us” section of the website.  Former County Councilman Julian Rogers gave the keynote address addressing the topic of how can NEOCH do a better job at advocating for their constituency.

2014 Advocate of the Year

Norman Wolfe is a former member of the NEOCH Board and current member of the Homeless Congress.  He volunteers with NOBLE working on the Ohio State budget issues and their impact of those decisions on homelessness and those living in poverty.   Wolfe is a veteran of the US Navy and had previous experience with homelessness.  One of the most important programs of the Coalition that Wolfe worked to restart was the Resident Council at 2100 Lakeside.  He felt that this empowered the men at the shelter to confront senior staff about problems and work on resolution of those issues.  Wolfe pushed for the Resident Council to give residents a chance to voice their frustrations and not face the possibility of retaliation.  

2014 Volunteer of the Year

Demetrius Barnes has volunteered with NEOCH for over 5 years.  She regularly comes into the office almost every day and is willing to help with anything.  Barnes does clerical, phone calls, filing and sorting of donations. If you attend one of the meetings at NEOCH, you have probably received a call from Ms. Barnes.   She lives in the MidTown area and wants to give back to her community.  Barnes has great hopes to use the skills she has learned at NEOCH to find a permanent job.  She has volunteered for her church and for the Bishop Cosgrove Center in the past, and attends the Homeless Congress and Hand Up Gala as well.

2014 Social Service Provider of the Year

Beau Hill is the Coordinator of the Harbor Light Project and contact for homeless services within the Salvation Army of Greater Cleveland. He is co-chair of the Public Policy Committee of the Office of Homeless Services and oversees the shelters, detox, community corrections, and outreach headquartered in the Prospect Avenue facility.  Hill leads the effort to reduce human trafficking in Cleveland, and has assisted the County in improving the regulations of the local shelters.  The biggest success over the last year was the posting of rules that prevent discharge from shelters in the evening unless there is criminal activity.  The other victory from 2014 was the financing of a new family shelter in Cleveland operated by Salvation Army.  This has been a dream of many including Hill for years to move the Zelma George shelter into their own brand new facility built to serve the unique needs of homeless families. 

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronical and NEOCH June 2015

A Look Back at 22 Years of the Street Paper and Homelessness in Cleveland

By Tyler Thompson

Twenty two years is a long time to exist in today’s world, especially in the news print world. But we made it.  The paper now call The Cleveland Street Chronicle, formerly The Homeless Grapevine has seen a rise in the numbers of homeless men, women and children across the country. We spoke out against laws that criminalize being homeless in big and small cites that depend on dollars from tourists.  We marched against gentrification of neighborhoods.  In an effort to bring in and keep younger professionals in the neighborhoods while business owners and the public try to hide homeless people by claiming that they are bad for business and harm the city.

We applauded when new programs took risks and develop outside the box approaches to solve homelessness. We also cried foul when they didn’t work or an agency fell short of doing what they claimed they were doing. 

The paper and the Coalition for the Homeless are always and will always be a place where homeless people will have a voice. Our programs have teamed up with professional volunteers to help teach writing and photography to some of our venders.  Many of those future journalists or story tellers started out homeless and overcame those barrier through hard work and encouragement from you. the consumer of this product, and the support of the staff at NEOCH.

The speaker’s bureau at the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH) has given our venders a platform to tell their stories across Northeast Ohio and the country. Building in them a confidence and belief in themselves that has strengthened them beyond measure.   

Thank you, and here’s to another 22 years of writing the stories that may never get told without us and to helping people one paper and one person at a time.   

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronical and NEOCH June 2015