Staff of Cogswell Hall saw our post about Cosgrove Center and their 20 years of existence and wondered if we could mention Cogswell Hall serving Cleveland for over 100 years. Their building was renovated back in 2009, but the original construction was in 1914. Their growth and continued existence is impressive and they are celebrating with an event on September 19 called Coming Home. Now for those who do not know Cogswell Hall is a permanent supportive housing apartment building on the near West Side of Cleveland. They are helping those who have been homeless for a long period of time back into housing. They have social services and other help available to this mostly disabled population. They should be congratulated for making it one hundred years, and we should celebrate this newly renovated building improving our neighborhoods in Cleveland. We are also proud that they are fellow Community Shares Members here in Cleveland. Staff at Cogswell Hall are always helpful with voting, protecting client rights and other social justice issues.
In looking back at the Cogswell Hall history, it really shows how the city has changed in the last 150 years. We have grown up and improved our fair housing obligations, but what have we lost during that time? Cogswell Hall started serving exclusively women and now takes all, but is there a need to serve women in a separate facility? All the previous incarnations of Cogswell Hall are still necessary in Cleveland, but have sadly disappeared. They started as a temperance union for women, which is not something we talk much about today. In an age of medical marijuana, very few are talking about outlawing alcohol. That would be pretty much the end of professional sports, reality shows, tractor pulls, wrestling, and demolition derbies if we outlawed alcohol consumption. In 1892, they became a halfway house for those leaving the women's workhouse. They were a training facility and provided "anti-alcohol encouragement." These are services we need today. We have Women's Re-entry, but they don't have a building for transitioning the women back to full time employment and stable housing. This halfway house for women coming out of incarceration is a type of program we could use today.
In 1899, Cogswell Hall moved to the West Side and worked on preventing young girls from getting into trouble. Now, we have the YWCA doing the same type of program, but working with a slightly older group of young women. We could use more programs that work with young women to keep them out of trouble. The Cogswell Hall current building was built in 1914 and had 27 rooms and was known as the training home for girls. The group changed their name to Cogswell Hall in 1952--renamed after its founder. In the 1970s, Cogswell started renting apartments to older women 60 years of age and older. This might be one group that the market is sufficiently serving at this time. We have an aging society and we may see a need for senior housing in the next 10 to 20 years, but at least right now we are meeting the housing needs of seniors. Many landlords want to rent to seniors because they do not have parties and typically have steady income. With only around 1% of the homeless population over 60 it is not a huge issue in Cleveland in 2014. In the 1970s, I am sure that Cogswell Hall served a vital service to seniors.
In 2004, Cogswell Hall started accepting fragile women of any age and providing supportive services. While fair housing standards say that apartment owners cannot discriminate based on gender, there was some merit to serving women separate from men. Women experience violence leading to homelessness at huge rates. This often makes it difficult to live in the same building with men. Women still face discrimination in the workplace, pay rate discrepancies, and archaic hiring practices that make it necessary to provide additional help. They still face landlords who prey upon women and they need fair housing protections, but we could use separate facilities to serve especially fragile females. We keep losing programs for women in this community, and that makes it harder to serve women and female headed households. We lost East Side Catholic shelter, Triumph House, the Care Alliance program for women, Family Transitional, Transitional Housing Inc, and now this month Continue Life for pregnant young moms. All these programs were lost in our community and only a handful of the beds were replaced. We are not doing all we can do to serve homeless women in our community. While we have made great strides in providing fair housing for minority populations and women, there has been a cost. This major step forward has actually set back the fragile females who need extra assistance overcoming obstacles in our community.
The building over on Franklin is impressive and the wrap around services offered are wonderful. Cogswell Hall serves a critical need in our community as they have done for 100 years. We hope that you can support Cogswell Hall in 2014 to mark their landmark anniversary. We wish them good luck on their fundraiser.
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