It is hot and the dog days of summer. No one is thinking about homeless people at this time. Did you know that the population does not decline in the summer. Yes, the number of men staying in the shelter decreases in the summer. Many find it easier to sleep outside during the summer. They use the drop in centers for showers and meals, but spend their time sleeping in tents, under bridges or in abandoned structures. So, it is not as though they have ended their homelessness as much as they took a break from shelter.
The number of families experiencing homelessness actually increases during the summer. Grandma has been helping out the daughter and her kids so that they do not have to change schools during the school year, but cannot take a summer of the kids around the house endangering the Grandma's housing if the landlord finds out. It is too much of a strain for many families and they relocate to the shelters.
The homeless outreach teams are out building relationships with people who choose not to use the shelters. Metanoia outreach staff are delivering hygiene items to guys hanging out at the shower program at St. Malachi. We are going to the dinners over at St. Patricks to see if there are life sustaining needs that these guys might have. Care Alliance outreach nurses are taking blood pressure and looking for sleep deprived individuals who live outside. PATH workers are driving homeless people to medical appointments and making sure that they are taking their medicine. Our Community West Foundation funded outreach trainees Fred and James are taking out sleeping bags and tents to people who do not want to give up their pet while they are without housing.
The point is that homelessness is not just a winter problem. We have had a large year-round problem with homelessness for 30 years here in Cleveland, and we do not see any relief in the summer. We need your help. We need water for those who try to make it off the streets on their own. We need hygiene kits for those who use the showers at the Cosgrove Center. It gets cold at night so we still distribute blankets year round. Here is the list of items that we collect and distribute. We have posted photos on the front of the website to remind people that we need items even during the summer to distribute. If you can't help with donated items, just send a donation and we will purchase the items to give out. Just put "outreach" in the memo line so we know that they go to help those living outside. You can also donate cash to the Community West Foundation to the SocksPlus program. Those funds go to the outreach collaborative organized by NEOCH. Thanks for your help.
by Brian Davis
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