Update on Limiting Shelters in Cleveland

This came up in the previous Office of Homeless Services in March, but was tabled after Paul and Jim from Metanoia showed up to protest.   Here is the previous proposal for shelters: "Shelter will be limited for those who refuse to participate in a housing plan or refuse to accept stable housing when offered."

Here is the new suggestion:  "Shelter maybe limited for those who have available resources and refuse all options for stable housing.  Determination to restrict will be based on a case by case review at each shelter site."

Here are my questions for those who are proposing this requirement:

  1. Is there some oversight by an impartial third party without a bias of these decisions by the shelters?
  2. Can you appeal this decision to County Council if you were improperly denied the life sustaining bed in shelter?
  3. Why are we so involved in people’s personal business? As we said previously there are 1,000 reasons why a person would reject housing (it is located in a high crime neighborhood; I was raped in that neighborhood; it is where my abuser lives; it is too small for when I get my kids back; it is not on a busline; it is no where near my job, etc.)
  4. Who will take responsibility for these people when outreach find them living on the streets and will they provide more money to the street outreach teams?
  5. When the street populations increases after this policy is implemented will the County take responsibility for the increasing numbers of panhandlers and people sleeping outside?
  6. How can the County find money for new glass for the Q, but cannot find money for women who need help moving into housing and therefore turn down Frontline’s recommendation for housing? 
  7. Will the family shelter and men’s entry shelter share this information with other shelters when they deny someone shelter?  Thus creating a blacklist of bad homeless people who refuse housing?
  8. If it is determined that staff made a mistake in their determination to deny a shelter bed to a disabled individual, can the County require that staff person to sleep on the street for a period of time?
  9. Is this a solution looking for a problem?  How many people are actually rejecting houisng for a frivolous reason?
  10. Can someone explain to me how this policy will help us locally?  What is the cost/benefit analysis of this project?  Is it worth the hassle since staff will inevitably misinterpret it? Will it save the county any money or just cost more money with incarceration and emergency room visits? 

We have heard that Cleveland Mediation Center will handle grievances from this policy.  The problem is that the Cleveland Mediation Center was recently taken over by Frontline Services, a shelter provider.  So, Frontline staff will be deciding if another Frontline staff person made the correct decision in denying shelter or if another shelter provider made the correct decision.  Would a landlord allow another landlord to decide the validity of their eviction instead of an impartial judge at Housing Court? 

This is government turning away from its own constituents who need the most help.  This will be voted on at the Office of Homeless Services meeting on May 18 at Greenbridge apartments at East 75th and Euclid across from Aldi's (right on the Healthline).  We hope that Paul and Jim will be able to make it to talk about how this "improvement" does not address the fundamental flaws in the previous proposal.

Brian Davis

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