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