Where is NEOCH Shelter Advocacy Going?

NEOCH gave out this information at the Homeless Congress and is posting it on our website.  We have put together a special section on our website here.  This section is under Programs in our main directory called Shelter Upgrades.  We have collected pages about shelters including:

After digesting all this history, NEOCH has made some decisions about the future involvement of the Coalition with the emergency entry shelters in Cleveland.  We posted these on their own page here.  Feel free to comment on our position at the bottom of this posting.

  1. We at NEOCH have tried everything that we can think of to make a change in the Women's shelter for single adults and it is worse today than it was three year ago. We thought that the answer was to change providers, but the County went back to the existing provider.
  2. NEOCH is much weaker than it was in the year 2003 because funders do not like charities fighting with other charities.  They want us all to get along with each other and collaborate or merge to save on costs.  Funders punish those who speak publicly against another non-profit charitable organizations. 
  3. County Office of Homeless Services staff obviously do not trust NEOCH staff and do not believe anything that the residents say about the shelter.  They distribute over $33 million dollars and the decisions made by OHS can mean the difference between a pregnant women being able to keep her baby or having the child taken by the County. It is harmful to the 23,000 people who find themselves without housing to have the Homeless Coalition distrusted by the County group who gives out most of the public money in Cleveland.
  4. Frontline Services senior management do not trust NEOCH staff and do not believe anything that the residents say about the shelter.  Frontline is by far the largest homeless service provider in the County and current administrator of the Women's Shelter on Payne Ave.  They run many programs such as outreach, veterans programs, and management of the Permanent Supportive Housing.  It makes it very difficult to serve the non-female homeless population for NEOCH if there is this poisonous relationship with the Empire the largest homeless provider.
  5. Now that Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry (administrator of 2100 Lakeside Shelter) has thrown their support behind Frontline Services to assist at the Payne Ave shelter, this has also damaged our relationship with LMM.  NEOCH started out as a program of LMM inside their building, so this is especially tough. They are one of the largest facilities in Ohio, and most homeless men have stayed at Lakeside. It is rough to have a bad relationship with the agency that administers 2100 Lakeside Shelter. 
  6. The retaliation and hostility toward NEOCH for raising these issues is a threat to our non-profit agencies very existence.  Groups refuse to come to meetings chaired by NEOCH that would benefit their clients.  They will not collaborate on non-shelter issues or come to events hosted by NEOCH.  It is great to be committed to a cause, but if you are out of business what was the point?
  7. NEOCH will not be doing anything at 2100 Lakeside or 2229 Payne Ave.  We will not be helping with complaints or hosting meetings about the shelter or coordinating resident councils.  We were not paid for these activities and they have only caused the agency to nearly go out of business. A group can’t fight the good fight if they can’t pay the rent!
  8. We will not comment on problems at the shelter or respond to the conflicts that will inevitably come up at the two shelters.  We wish the two big shelters well and hope that they can self- correct.  Remember that only one-third of the homeless population uses the shelters in a given year, so there are plenty of homeless people for us to concentrate our efforts.
  9. We know that there is very little oversight of the shelters by Cuyahoga County.  We know that the grievance process is broken at both shelters.  We know that the grievances are rarely resolved in favor of the clients and are basically not worth the paper they are printed on.  We recommend calling your City Councilmember TJ Dow at 664-2908 or call Yvonne Conwell at County Council 698-2017 if you are having problems.
  10. We believe that at this point a client associated with NEOCH at Lakeside or Payne Ave. is a target and our involvement will not help their situation. There is no way to protect individuals against retaliation, which can result in the individual sleeping outside.  At this point, our involvement in the two main shelters does more harm than good.
  11. With the upcoming change in leadership at NEOCH it is only appropriate to step back from shelter advocacy that leads no where.  It only gets the agency in trouble and a new director will have many other things to work on for NEOCH.

Brian Davis

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