News Stories for this Week

There was an explosive report issued out of the University of Berkeley and proof that cities are making it illegal to be homeless.   The report shows that 58 cities are passing laws that are unequally enforced on homeless people.  They cited anti-camping laws among others as unfairly targeting homeless people for criminal citations. 

Channel 3 has been looking at people who live outside in this extreme cold. They talked to Rick and before that Christine.  They have been talking to people who stay outside.

Channel 19 put aside their tabloid news and did a nice story about the Salvation Army Canteen (not a Cantina).  The Salvation Army feeds hundreds in East Cleveland and Cleveland. 

St. Louis takes steps to make it easier to participate in the voucher program and makes it difficult for landlords to refuse to take a voucher.  We need similar laws that would not allow landlords to discriminate against voucher holders. 

We love the libraries and in Cleveland they are really helpful to homeless people.  This is a story about how libraries are trying to adapt to the number of people who are homeless and using the facility.  This is a Huffington Post article about libraries attempts to help homeless people with jobs and health care. 

How about a public restroom in Cleveland?  New Mexico was looking at introducing a shower bus that goes around the community to help people maintain their hygiene. 

Mother Jones did a long story about Housing First.  I am always dubious about quoting statisitcs (72% drop) when we know how unreliable counting homeless people can be.  They do a good job of outlining all the good items about homelessness.  It does not mention some of the draw backs of the programs or how the programs that are saving money can spend that savings on other homeless people.  It is a good overview of the issues and the program characteristics.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Library Looking at Homeless Patrons

The largest drop in shelter in the community is the Public Library system.  Many homeless are dismissed from the shelters in the morning and then are not allowed to claim a bed until the late afternoon.  Those who do not work or are not following up on medical appointments hang out at the library.   They are reading the paper, using the computer to look for jobs or just utilizing the people's university by reading.  The shelters have for years operated on a strategy that homeless people need to be out during the day looking for jobs and housing.  Over the last few years, the county has pushed to reduce services in the shelters, and asking instead that the staff work on housing issues.   They want services to be delivered when the person gets into housing and not when they are in an emergency situation.  A great idea, but unfortunately GED classes, resume building, Alcohol and Drug meetings and mental health treatment are not as readily available in the 40,000 units of subsidized housing in our community. 

The library is looking at issues within the system in the interaction between homeless people and other patrons.   We met with officials as they look at the local landscape to provide better services.  We pushed for a San Francisco style plan in which they have a social worker hired to interact with homeless patrons.  This social worker could set up classes and would have knowledge of the homeless system.  They could help librarians navigate the complicated system of help, and could design programming to move people out of an emergency system.   They could find space for legal clinics or public meetings or for agencies to come in to meet with potential clients throughout the system.

Many of the issues they talked about were community issues and not necessarily homeless specific issues.  We appreciated that the policies are not targeted to homeless people, but any patron using the library system.  Currently, the library has required that large packages and suitcases on wheels must be checked in the front of the library.  They are working to reduce theft from the library which they found stock piles of items in the ceilings of the bathrooms.  There are issues between patrons especially those who have their pictures posted on the sexually based offender website and are using the public library.   They are concerned with library staff interactions with mentally ill patrons some of whom may be homeless.  The staff wanted more information about the homeless system and who to call if they need help. 

The Cleveland Public Library is one of the treasures of the community.  The downtown location is beautiful and blends peaceful places to curl up with a book and the amazing historic architecture.  There is that nice garden spot in between the two buildings downtown.  They have the modern tower along side that old building with wood and archways.  The people in the branch offices are always so helpful and accommodating to rich and poor seeking help.  They all have a firm commitment to free speech and treating all patrons with equality.  We all appreciate the important role the libraries play in our services to homeless people.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.