NEOCH Still Concerned About a Specialized Shelter for those with a Mental Illness

                                                      July 5, 2017

 Valeria Harper     

Vice President of Operations

ADAMHS Board   

2012 West 25th St. 6th Floor

Cleveland, Ohio  44114

Dear Ms. Harper: 

 In January of this year, the Homeless Congress voted to prioritize advocating to open a separate shelter for homeless individuals, who have mental health challenges, in order that they can get the help they need.  At the meeting on May 4, 2017, we were able to briefly discuss funding options, limitations, and concerns about opening a separate shelter. Furthermore, we attempted to show the need for a separate shelter for those with a severe mental health challenges.  Rosie Palfy from the homeless congress, who was in attendance at that meeting, informed us that Mr. Denihan was very concerned about this issue after having a conversation with him.

 We wanted to see what the next steps are for the Homeless Congress to accomplish our goal of improving services to those with behavioral health issues and find themselves without housing.  We know that those with mental health issues are exploited, have their valuables and medication stolen, and are abused and/or either raped in and around the shelters.  When residents are suffering from a mental health crisis and are hospitalized, they are medicated and released back to one of the two main shelters. Often times, there is no professional staff to help them with their mental health issues, such as   supporting them in consistently taking their medications.

 The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless believes that the shelters are unmanageable with all these untreated individuals with mental health challenges, who do not have access to personalized care.  They deserve trained professional staff to help them with their mental health issues. NEOCH has received multiple complaints about the current state of the shelters, particularly, the Norma Herr women’s shelter.  Furthermore, we are concerned about the recent comments in a County Council meeting made by Eric Morse of Frontline Services, who is the current provider for Norma Herr.  He stated that he “opposes opening a separate shelter” for this vulnerable population because the women at the shelter “all” have either mental health issues or drug and alcohol issues. He continued saying, “if a separate shelter is needed for residents that have mental health or drug and alcohol issues, there is already a shelter in place for that and it’s the Norma Herr Women’s Shelter.”

 We do not want our important concerns to get lost in your current transition as the new CEO.  We would like to invite you to present to the Homeless Congress. Furthermore, we are willing to support you in this endeavor.  We can work with you on a proposal to your Board.  We can partner with you on a presentation to the County Council.  Thank you for your consideration and we hope that you will make this a priority during your tenure as CEO. I look forward to hearing from you.


 Christopher Knestrick

Director of Operations

Editor's Note: This issue is a priority for the Homeless Congress members and will be discussed at the Homeless Congress meeting on July 13th at 1 p.m at the Bishop Cosgrove Center.