The Volunteers of America shelter on Walton Ave. has announced that they are closing their youth shelter. The VOA has operated this facility for decades, which was originally for any homeless man. It was originally in Ohio City and then moved down to Walton in the Clark Fulton neighborhood. Here is the announcement from Ruth Gillett of the Cuyahoga Office of Homeless Services (NEOCH underlined the section):
"Dear all -
I am writing to share some information related to services for homeless and unstably housed youth in our community. The Volunteers of America of Greater Ohio (VOA) has made the difficult decision to close its Walton Avenue Shelter effective April 30, 2017. This decision was made due to the changing funding landscape and lack of sustainable resources to continue to provide emergency and temporary housing services for homeless young men. The Office of Homeless Services, the VOA, and other community partners have been in discussion for the past several months to develop an age appropriate, alternative emergency shelter option to fill the gap created by the Walton Shelter closing.
Effective April 15th, NorthPoint Temporary Housing Program will provide a Youth Shelter Cluster at NorthPoint. The Youth Shelter Cluster (still working on the name) will feature the following services:
- Semi private shared rooms
- 24/7 access to the facility
- Employment linkage focus
- Case management supportive services
- Security 24/7
- Access to Rapid Re-Housing resources
- Young adult specific services on site
- Access to a Youth focused shelter for 18 – 24 year old single females
Prior to making the decision to develop shelter space and services at NorthPoint, several youth (male and female) ... visited NorthPoint. They were enthusiastic about the facility, the location and the proposed service model.
The VOA and CoC [Continuum of Care] are committed to supporting youth currently at Walton to transition to family, permanent housing, or NorthPoint, prior to April 30th.
This is more bad news for Cuyahoga County. This is another 32 beds, but they could easily house 65 people in this building. It features storage, a kitchen and a dining room. It has a tv room and an upstairs that was previously a social hall. It had some nice woodwork and there were some nice paintings in the building from its Hispanic Heritage background. We will have lost 540 beds by the end of 2017 in transitional and emergency shelter beds locally or one-quarter of our total inventory of beds. Who is responsible for the decisions for shutting down and not replacing all these beds?
Moving the young people into North Point is fine, but that is a reduction in the number of overall beds in our community. The 80 beds at North Point are not sitting empty and the men and women currently working on employment will have a longer time to get a semi-private room. Also, will the current residents accept these young people coming in who often have a hard time convincing landlords to rent to them? It points to once again the lack of a plan locally for how to deal with the broad homeless population. What do we do with homeless youth? Domestic Violence victims without children? Pregnant Women? or Addicted folks who have repeatedly dropped out of treatment?
Sorry for always having to present the bad news. With some imagination and a plea by community leaders for help these facilities did not have to close.
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