NEOCH and the Homeless Congress pushed for an improvement in the procedures for discharging people from the shelters. We are not sure if the shelters are following the directions of Cuyahoga County in how they kick people out of the shelters. We regularly get complaints from people who were not ever given anything in writing about why they were discharged from the shelters.
Imagine that your suburb or City decided that they were never going to enforce parking and traffic laws. They issued a statement that all drivers are responsible enough and the municipal government trusts people to act in good faith to stop at stop signs and stay under the posted speed limit. For the first couple of weeks nothing would change much, but speeds would begin to creep up and street lights would become suggestions and not solid stops. Even for the most honest people would start to wonder why they are the only people stupid enough to stop after 10 p.m. at the Stop sign at the end of the block. Then the accidents would begin, children would be hurt, and the public would rise up and demand the police to start enforcing the law. This is the situation that we have in Cleveland with the shelters.
They have a list of rules that the Executive Director signs that they will follow, but no one ever checks to make sure that the shelter is following those rules. There is no threat to your funding and no problems if you discharge men for arguing with staff. There is no one from the County who ever checks to make sure that you are not making women miss meals and have to stay outside until 9:30 for trying to sneak food into the shelter. Staff are routinely blowing through metaphorical stop signs and hurting the residents. There is no oversight and no punishment for not following the rules. There is also no one to report problems if staff are mistreating you or if there is retaliation for talking to NEOCH or the media about problems. The County says it is too expensive to provide proper oversight and they would rather spend that money on beds or food. I wonder if they will have the same position when a woman commits suicide at the shelter after being tormented by staff or when a man freezes to death after an improper discharge from one of the shelters? Will someone lose their job or be charged with a crime or will the rules be enforced? We need some of these rules put into law and not leave them up to chance and the good will of staff.
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