Homeless Congress Voices Concern About County Shelter Policy

The Homeless Congress met today after a month off.  Ruth Gillett rejoined the group to present about the Single Adult policy.  The discussion focused a new policy that the County was working on to require participation in a housing plan for the residents.  We had previously discussed this policy on this blog here. This policy was in response to the large number of single adults seeking shelter in Cuyahoga County. Here is a quick overview of the policy that is going to be voted on at the July 20 Office of Homeless Services Advisory for information purposes.

Recommendation from the Single Adults Committee Meeting June 15, 2017

Exit Plan required of all shelter residents:

  • Within 1 week of arrival (at least a start)
  • Needs to include: income, safety, client choice
  • To be documented
  • 45 days

Review of Rights & Expectations

  • Within 24 hrs
  • To include Exit Plan, Follow-up expectations
  • To be documented

Exit Plan Follow-up by Shelter Staff

  • Frequency depending upon level of need
  • To be documented

 Resident Expectation:

  • Actively engage in Housing Plan

Staff Expectation:

  • Communicate with Outreach Partners
  • Continued effort with those who have yet to be successfully engaged
  • To Be documented

If shelter residents have not moved out of shelter after 3 appropriate housing offers the following would take place:

  • Cleveland Mediation Center (Editor's Note: which is now a program of the largest homeless service provider Frontline Services) will host a mediation between the resident and shelter staff
  • If the resident continued to reside at the shelter after the 3 housing offers and the mediation agreement, the resident’s shelter services would be curtailed to basic shelter accommodation.
  • Residents could appeal the shelter service limitation using the shelter grievance policy.

I helped to organize the Homeless Congress today and here is the takeaway from the meeting. The Homeless Congress does not support the current Single Adult Policy being proposed by the Cuyahoga County Committee for the following reasons:

The Policy doesSavetta who had previously stayed at the Women's Shelter not adequately take into account all the reasons people would turn down housing that is being offered, such as,  

  1. not being able to afford rent after the 3 months of rapid rehousing  money runs out, which means suffering the trauma of another eviction.
  2. A person not wanting to live in a neighborhood where they suffered a trauma, such as rape or abuse,
  3. People with  mental illness and/or addictions challenges that are not ready for housing.  

Such a policy could not be justly and fairly implemented into a shelter system that is already broken. Particularly, the Community Women's shelter on Payne Ave.  During the presentation in the Homeless Congress, multiply women spoke to this reality and the lack of services provided by the shelter to support the women to find housing and or jobs.  The congress does not believe that the women’s shelter could  in any way meet the proposed  45 day requirement for a housing plan as stated by the proposed policy. In order, for the policy to be implemented their needs to be a real commitment from the shelters to provide the services to place people into housing. If not, the proposal could be used to target particular individuals as a form of punishment.

The only punitive and accountability procedures in the policy are directed at men and women experiencing homelessness.  There is no accountability for the shelter agencies that do not follow through on the policy. Placing the only punitive actions onto an already marginalized population does not seem just and equitable. The policy must also hold the agencies accountable to building a housing plan and providing the services to achieve it.  

by Christopher Knestrick

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Post Script: The Office of Homeless Services Advisory passed the above recommendation concerning single adults using the shelters in July 2017.  There were only two votes against the policy (LOH and the representative from NEOCH).  We will update readers on the implementation of this policy as we move forward. 

NEOCH No Longer Takes Complaints from Residents of the Big Shelters

The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless has struggled with what to do with grievances in Cleveland.    Here is a copy of the flyer to print out and distribute.  We discussed the reason behind this decision back in March and posted it here.  We also discussed these decisions with the residents of the shelter at the March Homeless Congress Meeting here. It was a painful decision and we have had a women desperately calling us for a week to ask for help.  She was pleading and begging me to try it one more time.  We found it only harmed homeless people and was not helpful to improving the shelters.  Until there is a legitimate third party complaint process with some teeth, NEOCH has no hope of helping these residents to equitably resolve their grievances.  We suggest calling or e-mailing your County Councilmember or the City Council member for the two largest shelters.  They probably will not be able to help, but at least they answer their phone.  Every other place that we could thing of does not even answer their phone so it is not worth using cell phone minutes.

Brian Davis

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New Request for Proposal Out for Women's Shelter

The new Request for Proposal to administer the Community Women's Shelter was published yesterday and is due July 28, 2017.  We know that West Side Catholic is not going to pursue the grant this time.  Obviously, based on the poor treatment that they received last time, who would want to go through that again?  NEOCH hopes that some other provider will come forward to challenge the current homeless service provider at least to improve the service.  This is the only shelter left in Cuyahoga County for single women so it is a critical service.  The County and taxpayers benefits when groups compete for contracts. 

There are some improvements over the last request, but there are still some troubling things in the submission.  The new RFP is more focused on effective emergency shelter operations, but there is still the requirement to use Frontline Services (the new owner of Cleveland Mediation Center) to resolve grievances. What agency would have some other homeless service provider resolve their grievances for them?  There is no plan for providing an off-site overflow if all the beds get filled.  There is no requirement to show that staff are well trained in non-violence and de-escalation or to even know the social service system. 

Two controversial items from the last round of funding were removed.  One said that you had to operate a shelter of at least 125 per night in the past and you had to operate a safe facility in the past.  The 125 bed requirement limited the number of agencies to five in Cuyahoga County who could possibly apply.  The operating a safe facility in the old RFP was criticized by advocates who showed that the police were called hundreds of times to both entry shelters in Cleveland.  Loh who regularly complains to County Council was regularly criticizing the County for giving a contract to an unsafe facility especially since she was repeatedly assaulted inside the shelter. There is nothing in the RFP to require that the shelter provider reduce the number of EMS/Police calls to the shelter. 

This one provides 10 points to Project Budget and Narrative, but then requires the vendor to negotiate a contract with the County.  They could bid low to get the 10 points and then negotiate a higher contract price once the County staff add items to the contract as additional expenses.  Wasn't that the plot of the movie War Dogs?  A provider gets no points for negotiating partnership agreements with other groups in the community, which seems strange.  This time no dollar amounts were disclosed while the last contract had dollar amounts attached to the request, which is also strange. 

You can find all the Requests for Proposals on the Cuyahoga County Website for more details or go to the pre-proposal conference on July 6, 2017 at 1 p.m. at 1641 Payne Ave conference room.  Here is a copy of the RFP.

Brian Davis

Post Script: The deadline was extended for this project until August 18 announced on July 24, 2017.  It was announced last week that neither Frontline Services nor Lutheran Metro Ministry would be pursuing this grant as the main social service provider for this program. 

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County Attempts to Reduce Number of Single Adults Using Shelter

We have documented the attempt to reduce the number of people who reside in the County shelters with a committee that the County created.  They had proposed an awful recommendation in March that we editorialized would add to the number of people sleeping outside. After Paul Sherlock and Jim Schlecht passionately decried the potential rules would harm homeless people, the rules were tabled for further study. 

The County committee met and our friend, Loh, attended and gave us a summary of the results. These are potential rules for the shelters.  This has to be voted on by the "Homeless Discussion Group" known as the Office of Homeless Services Advisory.   There are problems, but this is a huge victory for the advocates.  Cleveland will not shrink from its commitment to provide shelter to everyone in need. 

Recommendation from the Single Adults Committee Meeting

June 15, 2017

Exit Plan required of all shelter residents:

  • Within 1 week of arrival (at least a start)
  • Needs to include: income, safety, client choice
  • To be documented
  • 45 days

Review of Rights & Expectations

  • Within 24 hrs
  • To include Exit Plan, Follow-up expectations
  • To be documented

Exit Plan Follow-up by Shelter Staff

  • Frequency depending upon level of need
  • To be documented

 Resident Expectation:

  • Actively engage in Housing Plan

Staff Expectation:

  • Communicate with Outreach Partners
  • Continued effort with those who have yet to be successfully engaged
  • To Be documented

If shelter residents have not moved out of shelter after 3 appropriate housing offers the following would take place:

  • Cleveland Mediation Center (Editor's Note: which is now a program of the largest homeless service provider Frontline Services) will host a mediation between the resident and shelter staff
  • If the resident continued to reside at the shelter after the 3 housing offers and the mediation agreement, the resident’s shelter services would be curtailed to basic shelter accommodation.
  • Residents could appeal the shelter service limitation using the shelter grievance policy.

This is a victory for advocacy that no one will be kicked out to the streets and we have to thank Jim Schlecht and Paul Sherlock for the advocacy.  The reality is that the Women's shelter is only a basic shelter accommodations so there is really nothing to take away from the 200 women staying on Payne Ave at night.  There are couple of things to consider with this committee:

  1. There are such a small number of people who fall under this policy is it really worth all these meetings?  Very few people in our community turn down housing, and it will not free up much space.  There are so many waiting for every bed left in our community that this small population is hardly the problem. 
  2. There is nothing in these rules that puts pressure on the agencies to be better at managing the multiple barriers to housing for their clients.  Women with a mental illness, huge debt issues, and previous evictions are hard to house.  Guys with a sexually based offense or an arson conviction are extremely hard to house, but the agencies are not stressed to work with individuals on their individual needs in the same way the residents are pressured to get out of the shelter. 
  3. Case managers force people to bend to a small number of programs available in our community instead of trying to find the best path off the streets for those in need.  They do not set up hours that are conducive to the residents or make things clear to those seeking help.  No one takes the time to explain the homeless landscape and the services available to those struggling with housing. 
  4. None of these rules address all the barriers that we have created in our society.  The lack of acceptance that people make mistakes and need to be given a second chance or the unreasonable expectations built into our economy are not one of the bullet points.  The inability to prepare people to live independently or be able to afford to pay rent are not looked at by these committees.  The racism and discrimination that are on the rise in our society are never factored into these plans.  The shredded safety net and frustration in dealing with the health care industry are not discussed in any of these documents. 
  5. If you were the director of a shelter, would you want another shelter's program mediate for you?  Would one small landlord want another giant landlord conglomerate to come in and mediate between the small landlord and their tenant?
  6. The entire grievance process is broken in the shelters and so this needs to be corrected.
  7. Also, the reality is that most people don't ever want to sleep in a shelter.  They have no privacy and are extremely overcrowded with bunk beds everywhere.  When they get to be like the Renaissance Hotel in Downtown Cleveland then we can talk about people overstaying their welcome. 

If the committee wants to address the rise in Single Adult homeless people there are so many other areas they could focus instead they are focused on the small number of people who have given up.  We cannot expect as a society to have neglected affordable housing for 25 years and not see a sharp increase in homelessness.  We heard about a used car lot on the East Side of Cleveland that keeps its cars open at night so that people do not break the windows and every morning they have to wake up homeless people and ask them to exit the cars.  The lack of shelter beds, the lack of trained staff who can help people, and the many barriers that society puts in people's way would be a good place to start the discussion of why there are so many single adults asking for help.

Brian Davis

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Homeless Congress Notes for May

May 11, 2017---Cosgrove Center

Organized by NEOCH

The meeting began with an overview of the Homeless Congress and work to date.  

The group had a long discussion on the Cuyahoga County Council meeting that was on May 3, 2017.  At this meeting, the Council members voted on who will get the contract to provide services for the Norma Herr women’s shelter.  The committee is recommending that Frontline get the contract, but they did not get the contract for 3 years that the County Office of Homeless Services had recommended.  One of the members of the Homeless Congress, Loh, said she went to one of the other meetings and filed a grievance and still feels that the grievances are not handled properly.  She also informed the members that there was another suicide attempt recently at the women’s shelter.  The members were informed that the next important meeting is on May 23, 2017 when the contract will be voted on by the full County Council meeting. (After the meeting of Homeless Congress another County Health and Human Services meeting was held and the contract was reduced even further). 

In January, the Congress voted to prioritize advocating to open a separate shelter for mentally challenged homeless individuals so they can get the help they need.  This information was sent to the ADAMAS Board.  The first week in May, Brian, Ramona, Loh, and Rosie (who are members of the Homeless Congress) met with William Denihan, Michael Doud, and Valeria Harper of the ADAMAS Board to discuss the need and options that might be available in the community.  The only thing accomplished at this meeting was bringing the need for a separate shelter to the ADAMAS Board attention.  We briefly discussed possible funding options. But, William Denihan will be retiring in August.

Rosie informed members that Mr. Denihan is very concerned about this issue, but funding is limited.  At the meeting on May 3rd, Dale Miller asked about the mental health, drug, and alcohol issues at the shelter.  Eric Morse responded that the women at the shelter “all” have either mental health issues or drug and alcohol issues.  He also stated in addition to that “if a separate shelter is needed for residents that have mental issues or drug and alcohol issues, there is a shelter already in place for that and it’s the Norma Herr women’s shelter”. 

The next topic was the Open Doors CLE Art Project (photos posted on the front of the NEOCH website) that the Cleveland Institute of Art students are working on. I gave the Homeless Congress an update on the upcoming art exhibit.  The doors for the art project will be on display at Slavic Village on May 20-21st from 1-5pm and May 27th at Willard Park (by the free stamp) from 11am – 5pm.  The doors will be on exhibit for other projects as well.  There will also be a tribute to Michael Stoops, Founder of the National Coalition for the Homeless, who recently passed at the Willard Park opening. 

Next was an update on the Single Adult Committee-SASH.  The members were informed that nothing has been finalized and the committee is still working on the guidelines.  Randall, who is a member of the committee, discussed some banning policies as far as the length of stay at the shelter.  He explained that at this time they are considering allowing a resident to reject up to three “feasible” offers of housing, if none of these offers are accepted there would be a mediation, and finally they are working on consequences for refusing housing.  One option that is being considered is take away some services and only allow the resident to sleep at the shelter at night.  Also discussed was setting time limits on how long a resident could stay at the women’s shelter.  One member commented that there is one women that has been at the women’s shelter for 10 years, doesn’t work, and refuses housing.  It was also suggested that these women shouldn’t have privileges and have to sleep on a mat as opposed to having a room. Other women commented that there are no privileges available at the Women's shelter to take away.  There was some controversy about this and how Cleveland shelters are proud to say no one is turned away, yet, the committee is considering not allowing a resident to return once they leave the shelter or discharged (put out) for not accepting housing. 

Brian Davis argued that these women should be able to have a bed, in the only shelter for single women in Cleveland, if the city can put new windows in the Q.  Davis said, "What kind of society are we living in that cannot offer a cot and some food to its citizens but can find money to improve the playgrounds for the rich with museums and sports stadiums."  He further stated that it is a matter of cost vs. alternative.  He feels that they should not be concerned about the personal issues that have led the person to stay in the shelter unless the individual is offering alternatives.  If the reality is that all of our systems are broken (mental health, addiction, health care) and we are so unforgiving as a society including landlords and the re-entry community, then why are we putting so much pressure on people to leave.  If there are so many problems in holes in the safety net, why to we begrudge people sleeping in a shelter.  It is not a paradise and they are not staying in luxury.   He said, “Human beings should be treated like human beings”. 

Next “worker accountability” was discussed.  Randall stated that the committee will make sure staff is working with the client to find appropriate housing.  He said the committee is discussing how these decisions should be made or not made and the contributing factors. 

After the raffle, the surveys for the women’s shelter was discussed and it was determined that the women still feel the renovations did not help.  In fact, most felt that the renovations made matters worse.  Updates regarding the contract to provide services for the women’s shelter were discussed next.  The members were informed about the outcome of the Cuyahoga County Council meeting.  They were told about:

  • Dale Miller's excellent questions about the shelter and why there are so many problems.
  • Did Frontline not meet the minimum requirements?
  • Was there a way to shorten the contract?
  • Brian and Loh had both talked about how unfair the whole process was.
  • Councilwoman Conwell was upset over the NEOCH and Congress treatment of their staff Ruth Gillett.  Brian and Roy from NEOCH tried to meet with her in the morning and she was a no show.
  • Gillett had decided not to attend this meeting of the Homeless Congress.

LMM and the County had sent specifics of the new arrangement at the Women's Shelter which would include operating 24/7, having access to Wi-Fi, and other services.  LMM was going to join Frontline to improve the shelter as soon as this contract was approved by the County.   It was explained that staff from LMM will be eased in and current staff will be swapped in back and forth. LMM will oversee day to day operations and Frontline will be more focused on case management. There were a series of handouts from the County/LMM about the changes.

The next discussion was about agency accountability and complaints of suffering in regard to an uncaring provider, disrespectful staff, and lack of resources to help residents move forward and out of the shelter.  One of the members informed everyone at the meeting that this has been going on for over 10 years.  There was a short discussion about two County Council members spending the night at the shelter incognito and there was notes distributed from the County about the overnight stay and the changes needed.  The notes didn’t address how terrible things were at that time, and some of the huge issues.  Brian stated that he couldn’t believe that they didn’t demand immediate action because of the conditions that they saw on that one night.  Following this discussion, one of the members said that the food that is being sent to the women’s shelter is not what is being served according to the pictures he has seen online.  Ms. Gimmel of Eden, asked questions and urged the members to give the agency a chance to change.

The final order of business discussed was about this being the last Homeless Congress for Brian Davis of NEOCH.  Brian and Roy (NEOCH Board President) assured members that most of the programs will remain the same at NEOCH even after Brian leaves.  Roy also stated that NEOCH will continue to do all it can do and will work to make a smooth transition.

*There will not be a Homeless Congress meeting in June and members were informed of this. 

The next meeting will be July 13, 2017.

by Ramona Turnbull

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Ramona's Comments to County Council on Women's Shelter

 I’ve been coming to the Council Meetings pouring out my heart to let you know that the conditions at Norma Herr are terrible.  Since I was at the last meeting there has been another suicide attempt and there is a resident that goes there on and off because she doesn’t feel safe. Instead, she will sometimes sleep outside.  She feels she has a better chance of not getting robbed on the street as opposed to inside the shelter and she doesn’t trust the staff.  When she does stay there, she sleeps in the hall close to the officer on duty.  She was recently punched in the face by someone and she still will not stay at the shelter.

 The current provider has been informed repeatedly about numerous problems at the shelter and LMM acts like its rocket science to prepare decent meals for the shelters.  I can’t understand how either of these providers could realistically get the contract to provide services to the women’s shelter instead of the Westside Catholic Center, Metanoia, and NEOCH who have been reaching out to this population for years.  This population also trust all three of these organizations.  The request for a new provider was done as an alternative if Frontline didn’t meet the much needed requests made by the women over a year ago. 

 The Renovations even prove the lack of consideration for the women by the current provider and as an ex-resident of the shelter, the decision to let the current provider continue to provide this unservice is quite disturbing.  I came to reach out to the council one more time to ask them to take the women into consideration first, being this is the only shelter for single women in the entire city and they still don’t even have a television.

by Ramona Turnbull

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Women's Shelter Update May 2017

Wow, a lot has happened over the last two weeks with regard to the Community Women's Shelter on Payne Ave.  First, Dale Miller objected to a 3 year contract back at the hearing on May 3rd because of all the problems he heard about at the Homeless Congress.  He raised serious questions with Frontline by asking them to come to the front to answer those questions.   He made Eric Morse COO of Frontline Services come up and explain why the women’s shelter is so lowly regarded and their are so many complaints.  There were questions about the EMS calls, the lack of help for the mentally ill, and how this new partnership will work.  Eric said for the first time that almost all the women are either addicted or mentally ill and they just don’t have enough money.  Ruth Gillett Director of the Office of Homeless Services said that the complaint to the Inspector General over the process was found to be without merit.  (We will seek that complaint through an open records request).  In the end, the contract was redrawn to go from 31 months down to 19 months.  It was expected to be passed last Tuesday May 9 at the regular council meeting. This was a good meeting to watch on line, but it is three hours long so here is the run down:

  • 39 minutes 51 seconds:  Ramona Turnbull testifies about the conditions
  • 43 min 22 sec: Brian Davis testifies about all the problems with the Request/Contract
  • 46 min 37 sec: Rosie Palfy testifies
  • 54 min 10 sec: C. Loh once again talks about all the problems at the shelter
  • 1 hour: 54 min 02 sec:  Ruth Gillett gave her presentation and powerpoint of the Women's Shelter contract.
  • 2 hr 09 min 13 sec: Councilwoman Conwell comments on NEOCH and Brian Davis.  She mentioned it was disheartening to hear about the treatment of their director.  She claimed that this process was only after listening to the women.  She claimed that this was going to help the shelter residents and they took the time to make this work.
  • 2 hr 21 min and 20 sec:  Dale Miller starts his questions of Ruth Gillett
  • 2 hr 29 min and 54 sec: Dale Miller begins questioning Frontline Services staff.

Then the following week at the Council meeting, Dan Brady said, "We are going to send this back to the Health and Human Services committee to straighten out this legislation."    He sent it back to the Health and Human Services committee, which is highly unusual.  We heard that there were private discussions about extending the contract by only 4 months and just starting over. In the end, the contract was extended until the end of December 2017 with a new RFP issued soon. 

It turns out there was a provision in the RFP that said that a group had to get an 85 score to be "technically responsive."  The legal department said that since neither West Side Catholic nor Frontline Services got the 85 so the County could not proceed.  They have decided to go forward with an 8 month contract to expire December 31, 2017 for Women’s Shelter.  It will be the LMM/Frontline proposal but only through December.  They will issue a new RFP soon without the 85 score minimum provision in the grant.  So, Loh going to County Council every couple of weeks and talking about the poor conditions worked.  Dan Brady showed up at the May 16 Health and Human Services Committee when Ruth Gillett announced the eight month contract, and said that he wanted Council to stay informed throughout the process to avoid any future issues. 

NEOCH is going to press for a whole new committee that meets with the residents of both or all bidders. We also are going to press for an RFP that addresses the real issues facing the shelter.   It was a remarkable turn around.  It had to be humiliating County staff to see three County Councilmembers criticize the process and the outcome.  Ruth Gillett, the Director of Office Homeless Services was very defensive and respectively pointed out that she would have to start the process almost immediately if the committee approved a one year contract.  Gillett did not show up for the Homeless Congress because she said that she was so abused by the residents in April. 

We raised a couple of problems with the process over the last few months:

  1. 1. The RFP asked the applicants to answer questions that have nothing to do with addressing all the problems at the shelter.  "What is your understanding of the project?"  It is offering a bed and some food not a moon landing.  No questions around what are you going to do about overflow; or the huge number of EMS calls; staff mistreatment; a lack of effective grievances; and the inability to keep women safe.
  2. The committee that was designed to make the recommendation on who administers the shelter was all white in 2017.  The shelter houses 78% African Americans but the County appointed an all white committee to make the decision. 
  3. The committee never spoke to the women living in the shelter to hear their concerns.
  4. The committee obviously did not do a simple Google search on the conditions at the shelter.  They could have read thousands of words on the problems and issues associated with the shelter.
  5. The committee that made the decision had an intimate relationship with the current provider, but very little with West Side Catholic or Metanoia.  They were deciding between a close friend and a virtual stranger to run the shelter. 
  6. There was no plan for how to provide services to this deeply fragile population including the re-entry, mentally ill and addicted group trying to find help.

Brian Davis

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When Will the Women Be Considered?

My biggest concern about Frontline Services continuing as the provider for the women’s shelter is the total lack of empathy, consideration, and failure to take responsibility for their actions.  After all the complaints that were made, no one seems to be listening!  The problems that have been presented were totally ignored and all the grievances that have been filed were not even considered. 

There is either a lack of communication here or the people making the decisions have no regard for human life, specifically the lives of women.  It seems that women have been targeted as outlets for people who are supposed to be responsible professionals as a way to practice doing the extreme opposite.  A lot of the women residing at the shelter have children or don’t want to be a burden to their family or possibly running from domestic violence with nowhere else to go!  They all have their own lives and responsibilities to address. 

The people that were selected for the committee don’t have a clue what homelessness really is or what to look for to make this type of decision and I’m pretty sure that it is totally unethical.  They should be more representative of the population being served.

The women residing at the shelter aren’t even getting enough consideration to have programs in place or a television to watch and keep up with what is going on around them.  This is a form of isolation which is also abuse, not to mention the horrible food that is served with no real nutritional value.  Under the current conditions, I’m sure that if they could every women in the shelter would leave tomorrow. 

I feel that the decision to continue to let Frontline, even with Lutheran Metro Ministry as a partner, provide services for the women’s shelter would be mean, heartless, and cruel.  When will the women be the focus of which group should be providing services for the only single women’s shelter in the entire city…and it has no TV!!!!  I feel that it is the provider’s responsibility to make sure to provide necessities that will eliminate chaos and boost morale?

by Ramona Turnbull

Editor's Note:  Ramona testified before the County Council.  These are her adapted comments without the County time limits.  These are the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of NEOCH.  The legislation is going forward, but there may be a limiting of the time frame of the contract from 19 months down from 31 months which was in the original legislation.

County Councilwomen Slept Overnight at the Women's Shelter

 NEOCH did an open records request for all documents sent to County Council about the Community Women's Shelter on Payne Ave. from last May until the present.  We wanted to see if taxpayers were sending complaints directly to the County Council.  Most of the information that we got back were actually e-mails from NEOCH.  We did learn two interesting items from the 28 pages we got back from the County.  1. The CEO of Frontline Services (current social service provider of the shelter) does not read our blog or pays attention to NEOCH.  Susan Neff sent an e-mail to the County last May on the day of the hearing about the women's shelter saying that she had just found out about the hearing and would not be able to attend.  We put up flyers at the shelter, the drop in center, and all over our website, but I guess the power players don't pay attention to the little guys down in the trenches. 

The other interesting news was that two County Councilmembers slept over night at the Community Women's Shelter on August 1, 2016 which by the way the first day of the month is typically a lower population day.  People have money at the beginning of the month, and so many do not stay in shelter.  We found out about this overnight excursion because Susan Neff sent the two Councilpeople a request to meet on August 2, 2016 in order to talk about their "anonymous" stay at the shelter.   Below are the notes from the meeting held later in the month. 

Some of the interesting items from the notes:

  1. The residents who saw the notes laughed that there could possibly only be 142 people in the shelter.  Something must be wrong with the counting system at the shelter.
  2. The Councilwomen spent most of the meeting talking about the number of residents who were not moving out of the shelter.  Forest for the trees?
  3. There is no visit to the shelter without some level of shock over the number of people on the floor or the distance between staff and residents, but that was not mentioned.
  4. Evidently, the Councilwoman missed the food as part of their visit.
  5. The recommendations made by the Councilwoman are solid and we all agree would benefit the shelter.
  6.  They wanted to reduce the stay to 6 months, but we have always been told that the length of stay for the majority of the residents is around 60 days.  This is confusing.
  7.  They still have not fixed the problem with men hanging out around the building.  One problem is that there is a bus stop right outside, which makes it difficult to control traffic.
  8.  We agree that there should be an overflow shelter for women and the West Side Catholic proposal would have involved Metanoia opening that facility.
  9. "Beds should be rotated" was a good suggestion especially for those with a disability who are new to the shelter.   I am sure that women would give up their beds to a disabled or elderly woman.
  10.   Grouping like minded individuals into a community is another good suggestion, and we hope that this is the one improvement that LMM will bring to the shelter.
  11. Rule changes should happen by January 2017.  Nope, still waiting for resident input on rule changes. 
  12. Eight months and still waiting for the County or Frontline to engage the community on rule changes. 

by Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.