However, there is no plan – no long term proposal being considered. There are no extra funds being made available. There is no solution which we can see.
Over the last year, NEOCH has voiced concern over the current lack of capacity and planning to provide women and children with housing and care. We are attempting to increase our own capacity to do more advocacy around this unrelenting crisis through our Hope for the Homeless campaign. We are currently in the process of our own study and advocacy program into the crisis.
We have joined our voice with The City Mission, who has been leading conversations about what the community needs to do. In September, The City Mission responded to this crisis by opening their gymnasium as the family overflow shelter. Since then they have taken the lead in conversations with private individuals and religious communities to figure out how to respond to the crisis. These conversations continue.
Rich Trickle, the CEO of the City Mission, recently sent a letter to Mayor Frank Jackson and the President of the Cuyahoga County Council, Dan Brady, looking for a permanent solution to the crisis.
We add our voice to these concerns and believe that the county needs to find a long-term permanent solution to this crisis. NEOCH also believes in a Cleveland that cares for the families who live in our city.
"This letter is an attempt to bring to your attention a critical need facing our city today. Right now in a Cleveland there are multitudes of homeless women and children and as city we are woefully underprepared to care for them or even meet their most basic needs. Currently there are only 4 facilities that provide beds and shelter for families (when I use the term family I’m referring to a mom and her kids): The City Mission - 55 rooms with 166 beds, Westside Catholic Center - 35 beds, The Salvation Army - 35 rooms and Family Promise - 8-10 families. Each of these facilities is full to overflowing. The City Mission (Laura’s Home) in addition to operating at capacity, receives on a monthly average 374 calls from moms (with a total of 776 children), 379 calls from single women, and 87 calls from pregnant women all requesting shelter at Laura’s Home. Unfortunately, because the facility is always full the answer is no, please keep calling.
In addition, many women with their children report to Central Intake requesting shelter. Because Westside Catholic and the Salvation Army are full these requests are denied. The County does not have any emergency shelter in place to care for these dear families - they have no where for them to go. So, last September The City Mission volunteered to open its gym for the County to use as an emergency overflow shelter for families. Since then Central Intake sends moms and their children to our gym every night. The number has been steadily increasing - right now we are seeing, on a regular basis 20 moms and 30 kids, sleeping on mattresses on our gym floor each evening. These families are bused to our gym and begin arriving around 7 pm. In the morning, they are picked up and taken to the Bishop Cosgrove Center where they spend the day. In the evening the cycle begins again. Because these families are not yet placed in one of the three County approved shelters (Westside Catholic, Harbor Light or Family Promise) they are not given access to any services - they languish in limbo until space is available in an approved shelter. This is an appalling, unconscionable situation. Furthermore, the use of The City Mission gym was meant to be a temporary, short-term fix. I’m afraid it has become the solution.
Please do not mis-understand the intention of this letter. The City Mission is happy to provide our facility as a haven for these poor families. However, now that a year has gone by and there is no discussion, no expressed concern, and seemingly no permanent solution forthcoming, I’m alarmed.
Cleveland is a great city. It is filled with compassionate, philanthropic people. I believe, if the people of Cleveland understood our current lack of care and provision for homeless women and children, they would be appalled. This isn’t right and it certainly doesn’t represent the heart of our great town. The City Mission stands ready to do whatever we can to help, but the County must step up and provide a permanent solution."
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