County Health and Human Services Meeting

January 20, 2016 Cuyahoga County Health and Human Services Meeting.

Thank you so much, Cuyahoga County, for keeping the videos of your committee meetings on the site.  They are a little complicated to find, but with some hunting it is great that you keep them up there.  The Health and Human Services meeting oversees funding for the shelters and homeless services.   Loh, who regularly attends the Homeless Congress,  is gracious enough to go to these meetings and give us a heads up when something comes up about the Community Women's Shelter.  At nearly every meeting Loh (a resident)  invites her elected officials to attend the Homeless Congress meeting or visit her at 9 p.m. at the shelter to see what is going on over on Payne Ave. 

This meeting came to our attention, because it was pretty soon after Dale Miller attended the Homeless Congress and heard an earful from the women.  Councilwoman Conwell chaired this meeting and the Women's Shelter funding was on the agenda.  Thanks to Denise and Ramona for the partial transcript of the meeting notes below. 

After a year of intense pressure on reforming the shelter, we got more money going to the women's shelter without any changes and 30 more beds.  There is a renovation underway which is great, but the staff, food, lack of oversight and an ignoring of the grievances still exists.  The additional funds to hire more staff under the supervision of the same agency was not well received by the women that I have talked to about the shelter.  Shouldn't the funding go to the Cosgrove Center who provide help to the women during the day?  The two budgets approved were for 2100 Lakeside at $1.701 million to serve an average of 380 people per night and 2227 Payne Ave. at $1.419 million to serve 180 people per night.  Why are the women so much more expensive especially since most women have to leave at 8 a.m. and don't come back until 3 p.m?  This is the most expensive babysitting service in our community.  There are too many staff who are called "case workers" even though they are not doing much work on people's cases.  The Women's Shelter has to be for two shifts of armed security on site at the request of the staff which are not present at the Men's Shelter. 

Anyway, we present the notes from the meeting to see what the bureaucrats from Cuyahoga County and staff of the shelter are saying about the facility that they do not typically say directly to the women at the shelter or at the Homeless Congress meeting.  There is a discussion at the meeting regarding the large number of women who are staying at the shelter for a long period of time.  There is no easy solution to this problem.  Is this a systematic failure?  After all, if there is only one shelter for single women and many people who need additional case management help that they cannot find, where are they supposed to go?  Is this an agency problem?  Are these women so demoralized and beaten down by the staff that they have given up ever getting into housing?  Or is this an individual issue that these women do not possess the skills to get housing or a job because of their background? Do they need some help that they cannot find after 3 p.m. when the shelter opens?  None of us know the answers to these questions, so it is impossible to give an answer. 

There was a discussion if there are 30 people over the number of beds currently in the shelter or were there 60 women sleeping on the floor.  This seems like a bizarre discussion that has no solution.  It is like a dispute between whether things should be characterized as horrible or just terrible.  The County Council needs to fix this problem and not debate the numbers.  This is the reason we elected these individuals to fix problems facing our community and not to just debate the issues. 

 Brian Davis

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