St. Paul's Hope for the Homeless

This picture came from Rev. Doug Horner at St. Paul's Community Church on Franklin Blvd.  There are a number of people like "Mark" who stays outside and no matter what we do will not go inside.  He is reluctant to accept any charity, but he is not a threat to himself.  This is a temporary solution that the West Side folks came up with to keep these shelter resistant folks alive.  According to Rev. Horner, "The thought behind it being this:  sometimes we can’t pass policies, or make a wave of change that helps the most vulnerable. But we can make a difference one person at a time. This small passive energy home is so well insulated that body heat will keep a person warm inside."

Here is a photo of the crew and the new “sleeping pod” - located Greater Old Brooklyn neighborhood; out in the woods on the edge of a dirt bike trail, on the edge of a vacant lot near a construction site. Thanks to the Corrado family for generously giving time, talent and money to make this a reality.  Thanks to Casey for his shop space.  Thanks to Lucy for her carpentry and patience as we laid it all out. Thanks to Tyrone the outreach worker for coordinating this effort...Just 4 days and tons of labor hours by volunteers and stipend workers with St. Paul’s. 

"Mark" has been living in a lean to for years, and there are a few others who live in the neighborhood.  Many of these guys have been hassled, beat up, frozen, etc.  They regularly hangs out at a nearby fast food place.  "Mark" is always the first one in in the morning, and all the staff know him.  A few people visit "Mark" regularly, like the volunteers from Ignatius, Labre and Care Alliance who travel around with food and blankets. 

"Mark" again was reluctant to accept charity, and didn’t want the house.  The volunteers pictured above set it up nearby anyway.  It is a temporary solution that will probably need to be moved in the Spring when construction season starts.  If you like the idea, you can donate the $500 to St. Paul's for the materials or you could volunteer to help construct the next one.  It is hoped that this is a way to build a trusting relationship with some of these guys to move them along to stability.  It is a hope to keep a person alive while we work through some of his issues, fears and suspicions. 

Thanks to all the volunteers at St. Paul's Community Church for building and moving this unit to help "Mark"

Brian Davis

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Indy is a Messed Up Place For Homeless People

I got to see a copy of this documentary last month, and it is pretty amazing.  If you are in DC in December, I highly recommend this film.  It makes you glad you live in a more advanced community that does not disrespect its poor population compared to Cleveland.  The film is like a documentary version of Brazil or Naked Lunch where the City of Indianapolis puts unreasonable and unbelievable restrictions on these encampments.  "Go to shelter, but there are not enough shelter beds and you can only stay for a week."  We do not have the level of outdoor homeless population as they have in Indy and we certainly don't have these large scale tent cities.   This is a nice portrait of what happens if you follow the HUD plan to close transitional shelters, focus on very specific populations and de-fund all the supportive services in a community. Check it out.

Brian Davis

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"Fear The Walking Dead" Needs a Homeless Guy

 AMC's Walking Dead television series is set in Georgia and now Virginia.  The series is the aftermath of the downfall of organized society and after the fall of the government.  One of the key interesting figures of the series is one of the two stars, Norman Reedus.  He is a self described Georgian redneck named Daryl Dixon from a rural section of the state, petty thief and racist.  He is the guy who is an expert with the cross bow and seems to have the DNA necessary to survive the Zombie Apocalypse.  He was a wandering, hate filled couch surfer without a real job who could fix things and was a good hunter, but otherwise had no real skills for modern society.  After the world fell into chaos, he seemed perfectly suited for a place where you migrate for food and survival of the fittest is the law of the land. 

The series has a new spinoff that takes place in the City of Los Angeles.  The new series is pre-apocalypse and for anyone who has seen the Walking Dead, they cycle through a lot of characters.  Many many people die on the show including individuals who have leading roles.  So, at this point it is not clear who will be the main characters who survive.  I hope that they find a character like Daryl for Los Angeles.  I am nominating a character from Skid Row to provide some education to the general population of the amazing things that homeless people have to overcome in this society to survive.  Most people think of the "bums" on Skid Row as lazy non-conformists who don't want to get a job.  From hanging out with homeless people in Cleveland, I can say that they go through incredible hardships to survive and believe that they would do well in the Zombie apocalypse. 

Homeless people have to walk great distances for food.  They have to figure out who can be helpful and who is going to harm them or steal from them.  Homeless people stay largely to themselves and are able to find privacy in the public world that they live in.  They are really good at getting important information from the streets and who to lean on for what they need.  All these skills would be great at the end of orderly society.  Daryl brings a lot of character to the Walking Dead and homeless people from Skid Row could bring the new show Fear the Walking Dead some interest.  We also feel that it would dispel some of the myths about homelessness.  There are enough homeless people in Los Angeles to survive the Zombie apocalypse. There are just about the same size as the City of Toledo living in the shelters or on the streets of LA every night. 

Brian Davis

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Jim Skerl at St. Ignatius Constructed a Program to Befriend the Forgotten

As we start the winter season when our focus switches to keeping people warm, we remember the founder of the Labre Project locally, Jim Skerl.  The Plain Dealer did a nice job in remembering this amazing teacher from St. Ignatius High School with a series of articles including a nice piece by Terry Pluto

West Side Catholic, which is right across the street from St. Ignatius, expressed their grief over the loss of Skerl:

Words cannot adequately express the community’s sadness over the loss of Jim Skerl , teacher at St. Ignatius.  Mr. Skerl impacted so many in the community through his work with L’Arche and as the founder of the Saint Benedict Joseph Labre Ministry to the Homeless and the St. Joseph of Arimathea Pallbearers Society.  His legacy lives on in the lives of those he touched – including mine.

We have to remember the revolutionary nature of the Labre Project.  In a time of fear of everything and lawsuits, Jim was able to figure out a way for young energetic students to go outside to meet with those resistant to shelter where they live.  He convinced concerned parents of the value of the program first as a way to deliver food to the streets, but the program quickly evolved into a way to build friends with those living outside.  These young people first at Ignatius now at John Carroll and CWRU go out and deliver food, clothing and winter items to those often forgotten by society.  With this extending a helping hand, they listen and hear from the population.  The build a bond that extends after a person gets into housing.  They provide the most powerful weapon against homelessness in listening and treating people with respect.

These students know what is happening on the streets of Cleveland.  They know who is staying outside and they are often the first people homeless people meet when they move out of their housing.  They can often link them to "professional" outreach workers at the agencies.   These students are talking to these guys and treating them with compassion no matter their mistakes or human faults.  The Labre Project helps move people to get off the streets.   It keeps people safe while they are living without housing. Finally, it gives the students a lifelong desire to incorporate community service into their daily life.  They graduate realizing that their volunteer efforts helped the community and they want to do more. 

We will miss this quiet revolutionary from the near West Side of Cleveland.

Brian Davis

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CWRU Students Sue City of Akron over Homeless Policies

The City of Akron has never been good about taking care of homeless people.  They have the worst laws for panhandlers in the State of Ohio.  They have very few shelter options and they do not guarantee access to a shelter bed.  This means that if the shelters are full, homeless people must sleep on the streets.  Last week, we found out from a group of CWRU student law students that Akron Police were moving homeless people out and then throwing away their valuables. 

Eleven homeless people living outside in Akron allege that the Akron Police were stealing and discarding valuables from homeless people.  The lawsuit claims that the Akron Police under the direction of City officials would raid their campsites and then throw away tents, clothing, medicine directly to the City landfill.

The Akron Police claim that they did give proper notice and that most of the items taken were drug paraphernalia and other contraband.  According to the Plain Dealer, the police claim that they acted properly.  Personal property is held in high regard in the State of Ohio, and so government has to go to great lengths to hold personal property in a secure manner.  A person can go to prison for 25 years and government must keep their property safe and return it to them upon release.  To dispose of forgotten property governments must issue a public notice and provide sufficient time to retrieve these items.  A landlord must ask the court to dispose of a tenant's belongings if they disappear.  The lawsuit claims that the City government did not secure their belongings after confiscating them, and the personal property was taken directly to the trash. 

In nearly every case going through the courts, when a City throws away the belongings of homeless people they have to pay. I know that in Miami, Chicago and a number of cities in California were all forced to compensate homeless people for the loss of their valuables.  I can't see how this is going to end any differently for the City of Akron.  In Cleveland, we fought this all through the 1990s with settlements that provided homeless people $3,000 for picking them up and dumping them on the outskirts of town, and then we settled on an agreement between the City and homeless people in 2000 in a case called Key vs. City of Cleveland that police will not harrass homeless people living outside for purely innocent behavior.

The bigger issue for residents of Akron is that when cities start targeting homeless people we see an increase in hate crimes against the population.  When government gives the go-ahead to treat homeless people as lesser citizens, there are disturbed people who take that signal as open season on torturing, attacking and becoming violent with fragile people living outside.  Unfortunately, these are mostly young people who terrorize people living under bridges or in abandoned property.  We know that these laws and police sweeps lead to feelings of betrayal and abandonment by the population and it only keeps people homeless for a longer period of time.  This will not reduce the population, but will do the opposite.  We explore what Akron should do to reduce the number of people sleeping outside in a future post.

Brian Davis

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Post Script:  The CWRU Observer did a good summary of the case published this last week.  (One note, Brian is no longer Executive Director of NEOCH.  He is a community organizer, but the story is still sound.)

We Need A Community Conversation on Domestic Violence

We have posted the domestic violence statistics for the major counties and all the counties surrounding Cuyahoga in Northeast Ohio.  We have provided the number of police calls regarding violence within a household, the number of fatalities and injuries combined with the number of shelter beds (above).  These are dedicated beds exclusively for those fleeing violence.  What we see from above is the large number of calls compared to the small number of beds available.  In fact only Medina, Lorain and Erie Counties have fewer beds than Cuyahoga County, and they have a small population compared to Cuyahoga County.   We need a discussion about the our response to violence in the community, because with so few emergency beds how are we keeping women safe?

We know that 70 to 80% of the women in the shelters are fleeing violence or have violence in their past.  We know that many women are not getting the specialized care needed to make a clean break from an abuser.  We have a woman who was nearly beaten to death by her abuser last year, and lives on the streets with her attacker.  No matter how much we talk to her and show her that she has a choice and has options she returns to her long time boyfriend.  They drink and she ends up in the hospital.  There was a nice story on NPR about domestic violence and women who are resistant to going into shelter on August 30.  This story was by Gabrielle Emanuel who followed one woman around at night in DC.  

We only have 24 beds locally and some of those beds are prioritized for Jewish women.  The current system in Cuyahoga County is not working, and we need a better safety net for women fleeing relationship violence.  We need more safe places for women to flee.  We should have professional help for everyone fleeing violence.  We need to keep women, even those women who abuse drugs or alcohol, away from their abusers.  We need to help those with a mental illness to stay safe in the face of large numbers of men who prey on weaker people.

All the family shelters do their best to keep women safe, but there is a need for specialized trained staff to help these women from returning to their abuser.   We need counselors who can convince women that the road forward might be tough, but it is better than the alternative.  We need professionals who can inspire confidence that their abuser will not get to them and will not harm the children.   We need trained professionals who can help when the abuser bankrupts the victim.  We need a whole different approach to providing assistance to women fleeing abuse from emergency to transitional to legal and follow up services after the family is stabilized.  We need more resources to serve domestic violence starting with more emergency beds in Cuyahoga County. 

Brian Davis

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Brian Davis

Homeless People Need Supplies in the Summer

It is not just the winter that homeless people need help with donated items.   We have a new outreach consultant, Tyrone, who is out on the street everyday building trusting relationships, but we do not have hygiene kits, blankets or other items to distribute.  We see a big decline in donations during the summer.  There are not the religious groups, schools in sessions, or general public members who think about homelessness in the summer.  In actuality there are more people outside in need of help in July then there are in January when we are flooded with donations.  What do we need in the summer?

  • Tents
  • Bottled water (gallons are good as well)
  • Bus Tickets
  • Hygiene kits (trial size soap, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, brush, comb, deodorant, plus other personal care items in a bag)
  • Bug spray and sunscreen
  • Back packs or gym bags
  • Rain ponchos

We are open from 9 to 4:30 every day to drop stuff off over near Cleveland State University.  Many Saturdays we are open (call ahead 432-0540).   We can distribute the items to people living outside or in places that are not appropriate for humans, but we need your help collecting the items.  We hope that you can help.

Brian Davis

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Hi Friends,

Please send the attached announcement of the Metanoia Spring Pentecost Concert to your circle of friends.  The concert will be on June 8, 2014 at St. Colman's Church, 2027 West 65th Street, Cleveland, OH, from 2 to 4 PM. Free-will offering. 

Metanoia had budget-busting winter:  107 days and 36 unscheduled critical temperatures nights.  Now it is time to celebrate the Spirit and give thanks for the opportunity to serve. 

Please contact me or Jim Schlecht if you have any questions. 

Brian Davis

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Fund to Help those Burnt Out in the Flats

We are closely watching the Flats area to see if there are additional fires or trouble for those living in the area.   We have had a couple of people report someone going through and stealing items from tents before the arrests were made two weeks ago.  We did get a few calls from concerned citizens who want to help those who are sleeping down in the Flats.  Our new outreach in training worker can distribute items collected at the Coalition offices at 3631 Perkins Ave. third floor.  If you are interested in helping to replace some of the items lost, here are a few suggestions:

  • The gentlemen need tents of any kind.
  • They could use bus passes to get around.
  • They need bug spray and bottled water.
  • Blankets are always helpful especially those outdoor blankets that have plastic on one side.
  • We are collecting rain ponchos for the individuals.
  • And finally monetary donations that could go to any of the above items or even larger donations could go to rental assistance.  We can assist with short stays in motels to a couple of months worth of rent.  Just mark "Flats Fire" in the memo section.  These guys do want to find a way off the streets, but often reject shelters or other services. 

We recommend that you donate clothing to either West Side Catholic or Bishop Cosgrove Center.  These are the two places we trust will donate the items to homeless people and that we know most people use to receive clothing donations.   We had a meeting on Tuesday to talk about the continued concerns among the men and women sleeping in and around the Flats area.  This is the list generated from those who are staying outside. 

Brian Davis

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Met with Cleveland Police Regarding the Attacks on the Camps

We had a meeting with many outreach workers and volunteers along with some of the victims of the fires down in the Flats and the Cleveland Police Department.  The new Commander of the Second District Thomas Stacho and Officer Petcak from the Downtown unit attended the meeting to hear our concerns that someone was targeting homeless people by burning down their campsites.  We heard of three active sites that were destroyed and a couple of abandoned camps.  This started the weekend of March 21 and continued last Friday March 28.   On Friday evening between 4 pm to 5 p.m.  there were a series of fires at the camps while they were away getting food.  Then when the residents went inside to get out of the cold in the middle of the night the criminals came back and torched more camps. 

NEOCH and other outreach teams are concerned that this is a hate crime, and will only get worse with more people living outside over the summer.  The Police assured us that they would follow up and would investigate these concerns.  They were going to talk to some of the business owners in the area, construction workers, and the Fire Department that responded. They were going to report back to us after interviewing some of the spectators down there and a few people identified by the victims as suspicious as well as others who go down along the river.  

The stroller lady was scared and reported all her losses including the death of one of her cats.  She was angry about many past beefs with many different people in the community.  She gets picked on so much it is hard to get her to focus on this attack and not the previous threats against her camp.  She was also frustrated that no one takes her complaints seriously for the last five years including the police.   Rick has relocated and is keeping his new location quiet.  He talked about the library books, clothing, sleeping bags and food that he lost.  He was stoic but said he did not understand these attacks.  Rick stays away from most people and does not bother anyone.  He interacts with the volunteers from Labre, but otherwise stays by himself.  He had no theories for who could have done this, because there was no threats or warning.  Rick did say that someone had stolen from him and had messed up his camp two weeks ago, but was not sure if this was related. 

The outreach teams will increase interaction with the people staying outside.  We have asked the residents to set up a "neighborhood watch" type program.  The police agreed to keep an eye out during their patrols.   We hope that they are able to find these domestic terrorists who burnt down these campsites and intentially destroyed the tents and all their possessions of these people who largely try to avoid the spotlight.

Brian Davis

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Hate Crimes Over the Weekend

The Homeless Stroller Lady is famous in Cleveland.  You have probably seen her on a bus or walking around downtown, and some have even called the police worried that she has a baby in the stroller (she does not).   This weekend her campsite and two others were attacked in the Flats.  There were three or four tents set on fire over the weekend.  This is a terrifying prospect with all those flamable blankets lining the tents. 

The Stroller Lady had gone to the president of a local construction company and received written permission to take scrap wood from the construction site for her campsite.  This only made her campsite even more flamable.  We are working with city officials to better protect these individuals as we look for appropriate housing for them.  We hope to set up a meeting between the police or fire department and these individuals to increase patrols and get information about an investigation into this hate crime. 

Brian Davis

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Update on Cleveland's Extreme Weather

 The City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County convened a conference call today with social service providers and the Red Cross to make sure that we are ready to serve people living in unstable housing conditions locally.   Here are some of the things we learned:

1. The Metanoia Project at St. Malachi, 2100 Lakeside Shelter and the Community Women's shelter are the points of contact for City and County safety forces.  The RTA, Downtown Cleveland Alliance, St. Paul's and Care Alliance can offer transportation help to get people to these locations. The RTA was offering bus passes to get the person back to their "home" after the crisis is over. 

2.  The police and other Public Safety forces can offer a ride if the individual needs help to get out to the cold. 

3. Downtown Cleveland Alliance will be also providing transportation to shelter as is St. Paul's Community Church.  There are a number of outreach teams on the streets today and tonight looking for people who may need help. 

 4. Bellefaire has shelter provision and possibly transportation  for anyone under 18. Bellefaire JCB·Homeless Youth Hotline·24/7·- 216-570-8010.

5. Red Cross is providing supplies such as winter gloves, hats and cots/blankets.  Salvation Army is willing to provide food help to shelters that get overwhelmed.

6. All City Recreation centers will be available during open Hours as warming centers.

7.  211/First Call for Help can offer help with transportation if there is an individual on the streets that needs a ride to one of the warming centers or shelters. 

8.  The shelters are not turning people away and right now are operating two overflow sites for single adults and one overflow site for families.  These are administered by LMM.

9.  LMM at 2100 Lakeside Shelter is collecting cold weather donations 24 hours a day to give out to the agencies locally. 

10. If you need shelter go to 2100 Lakeside if you are a male and 2227 Payne Ave for women/children and they will find a space for you in the community.  You may have to be transported to some other location, but they will find space for you.

Brian Davis

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Where have all the Homeless People Gone?

I am just amazed by the small number of people sleeping downtown these days.  Only a dozen years ago there were 40 people at the Welfare building. Public Square had at least a dozen people sleeping, and Superior Ave always had people at East 9th because of the heated sidewalks.    They are all gone.  No one sleeps at the Welfare building and there are rarely people on Public Square.   Where have all the homeless people gone in Cleveland?  

On the Friday after Thanksgiving since 2000, we have gone downtown to count the number of homeless people sleeping outside.  In the past, we had 15 people to cover the downtown because there were so many people sleeping outside.  We wanted to talk to them to make sure that the police were not harassing them to test our lawsuit settlement from 1999.   Today with the small number of people sleeping outside it only takes one person to talk to these individuals.  This year we only found three people downtown between Old River Road and East 20th and the lake and Carnegie Ave.   This is the same number as we found last year.  We have stats on our statistics page here on the Downtown homeless number.

It has to be said that this is not a measurement of how many are outside since there are many who sleep on the West Side of Cleveland, across the river or on the East side in Midtown or St. Clair/Superior.   This is also not representative of the population living rough in the downtown.  Since it is a holiday weekend, it is probably one of the smallest number of people sleeping downtown for the year.  We use this as a baseline to compare to previous years since we have counted on the same day of the year for 14 years.   It is not a count of anything but the number of people sleeping downtown on the day after Thanksgiving.   The only big picture that we can say is that the trend of people sleeping downtown is way down compared to 15 years ago.  Why? There are a number of reasons we see so few people living outside in the downtown:

  • Guaranteed access to shelter in Cleveland.  We do not turn people away and the shelters are way better than they were in the 1990s. 
  • A well developed coordinated outreach program with trained professionals regularly building relationships with people who sleep outside. 
  • The introduction of the Metanoia project three years ago for the winter.  They focus on serving those who are resistant to shelter.  They are a drop in center and not a shelter.   They try to encourage people to come inside instead of sleeping outside on the weekends and holidays in the winter.
  • The clean up ambassadors from Downtown Cleveland Alliance are visible and regular presence downtown and they have a social worker who is on the streets interacting with homeless people. It is hard to sleep on the sidewalks if a big vacuum comes down the sidewalk at 6 a.m.
  • Permanent supportive housing have targeted people who have been homeless for long periods of time.  They have housed 500 people over the last six years and try to get people recommended by outreach workers who will never get into housing without the assistance of the PSH.
  • The move of the religious groups away from serving downtown and providing food in a random fashion whenever they had the volunteers.  This often kept people on Public Square, because they had no idea when a church would show up to provide food or clothing. 
  • There are so many more private places to live with the number of abandoned structures in our community.   Why stay outside on a sidewalk when there are 18,000 structures in Cuyahoga County that are sitting empty?

Brian Davis

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Dan Kerr Takes Organizing to DC

Dan Kerr, a founder of Food Not Bombs in Cleveland and writer of Derelict Paradise is now teaching at American University in Washington DC and working on a history project of the Center for Creative Non-Violence Shelter.  Here are where the actual oral histories are kept about homelessness in DC.  Professor Kerr cut his teeth in Cleveland where he would interview people after the meal downtown about homelessness.  He learned a great deal about the conditions of the shelters in Cleveland and then wrote his book about the history of homelessness in the city. 

Now, he has turned to a way bigger problem--homelessness in our nation's capital.  Only San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City have a bigger problem with people living outside than DC.   The problem is that the people who can end homelessness in America drive by the problem everyday on their way to work.  Dan's students have been doing interviews and posting them on this blog.  The other site gives a history of downtown including the closing of Franklin Circle shelter and the troubled history of the CCNV shelter.  CCNV had all the high aspirations when it was created, but has had regular leadership issues.   They have had confrontations with the City and federal government, and have seemed to be under threat for 35 years.  Dan put together a nice look at the issues faced by activists in Downtown DC. The shelter founded by peace activists and Mitch Snyder is looking at a plan for the next five years and will use the information collected to put in place a strong platform.

Brian Davis

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Downtown Sees Sharp Decline in Shelter Resistant

We did our count of the downtown homeless back in November, and posted the results on our website for this last year.  It was a significant decline in the number of people sleeping outside.  We have not seen these low numbers since 2100 Lakeside opened in 2000.   Now, before we break out the champagne there are a couple of things to keep in mind.  The shelter resistant have spread out to other sections of the city.   There has actually been an increase in the number of people requesting shelter in Cleveland over the last year, and a large number of people are staying inside at the Metanoia project at St. Malachi on the weekends when we do the count.  It does prove that if you offer a space that has high tolerance for difficult to serve people they will come inside. 

We outline a number of reasons on the page describing the population why we have seen a decline in the number of people who live outside.  All of these items work together to result in a decline in the population.  Not one magic bullet has caused a decline in the population.  All of these trends work together to change the number sleeping outside.  This is great news that there are in fact fewer people who risk their lives living outside, but we still have a ways to go to get everyone inside.  Two big things that would result in a significant decline in the population: changing the law regarding sexually based offenders and establishing minimum standards for the operation of a shelter in law. 

The sexually based offender law unfairly stigmatizes people who have huge areas of the city where these individuals cannot live.  While no politician wants to touch a law that is viewed as being tough on criminals, it is a stupid law.  Most abuse of young people happens by relatives or friends and not a stranger.  So all these laws that prevent offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school or even working close to a day care center have the result of keeping people homeless for long periods of time and costing taxpayers millions.  They have very little to do with preventing crimes against young people, but they have a heavy price for society.  

The shelters need to be better regulated to encourage people to come inside.  I have talked to hundreds of people who resist going to shelter because they have been kicked out or because they have serious concerns about the operation of these publicly funded facilities.  It is the only congregate living facility that does not have a law to protect the residents.   So many people would come inside if there were greater protections against discharge and were more transparent. 

Brian Davis

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Blanket Drive Continues

Diane (pictured here) participated in the Brown's Blanket drive in December.  Thanks to the Browns for donating the tickets to assist with the 2012 Blanket Drive.   We collected over 500 blankets in one week.  We are still working on collecting blankets.  Thanks to Shaker Heights Congregational Church for the van load of blankets they delivered this week.   We will be collecting blankets through March 2013. 

Some of the other items we collect include bus tickets, back packs, new socks, towels, and new underwear.   We also work with Handson Northeast Ohio to collect items for the upcoming Homeless Stand Down.  We help to distribute winter items at the Stand Down (gloves, hats, boots, etc.).  We are willing to pick up for donations of 35 or more blankets.  We are open 9 to 4 every week day for drop off of any of the above items. 

We distribute all the items collected to people who stay outside or in one of the overflow shelters in the community.   Please call if you have questions 216-432-0540.

Brian Davis

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Public Square is Free Again

Occupy Cleveland protesters were arrested in October 2011, and those members sued the City to overturn the curfew on Public Square.   This case could have an influence on the relationship between the City and homeless people.  In the 1990s, Public Square had as many as 25 people who slept on one of the quadrants every night.  This decreased dramatically after 2100 Lakeside shelter opened in 2000, and virtually disappeared after the curfew was passed in 2007.  Now, the Ohio Appeals Court ruling this last month, homeless people could make the case that sleeping outside in the most visible place in the City is an act of protest against the lack of housing in the United States.  They could legitimately say that they are going to sleep outside until the City begins to turn some of these vacant and abandoned buildings over to homeless people to fix up. 

It's a monumental victory for Occupy Cleveland and other like-minded citizens who want to exercise their constitutional rights in an area that is dedicated to free speech," according to attorney for the Occupy Cleveland defendants J. Michael Murray.

We could not agree more and we thank the Occupy movement for pushing this case.  Not a lot came out of Occupy, and in Cleveland the movement had a big black eye, but overturning this awful law is a victory. It is a restoration of free speech in Cleveland and a victory for the First Amendment. 

Brian Davis

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Blanket Drive Starts This Month

Thanks to UAW employees of ALCOA who kicked off our blanket donation drive with a sizable donations of blankets and other items, which went out the door to homeless people on the same day.  We collect blankets and other items for the winter to distribute to those sleeping outside.  We try to collect 500 to 1,000 blankets and distribute it to those who are resistant to shelter. People who sleep outside go through plastic and blankets quickly and need refresher gear every couple of weeks. 

If you collect more than 35 blankets, we will come out and pick them up.  This can be a small thing, but a blanket can be the ticket to building a trusting relationship with the guys on the streets.  It is a tool used by the outreach workers to relate to the individuals living outside. It is the first step toward returning to stabilty.  If you want to make a donation call us at 216/432-0540.

Brian Davis

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Shelter Resistant Gives Thumbs Down on PD Coverage

The Shelter Resistant called to complain about the Cleveland Plain Dealer article earlier this week about the campsites that have grown on the near West Side.  There are a number of people who would never live in a shelter even if we opened up the Renaissance Hotel as a shelter.  I was stuck in DC during hurricane Sandy, so I was not in town when the article appeared.  A few of the guys called the office to complain about this invasion of privacy by reporter Mark Naymik.  This is always a tricky situation since publicity usually results in more people offering help, but this is also their home and no one likes a reporter trampling around your home describing your castle no matter if it is brick or blue plastic sheets.   This "new" neighborhood is on the side of the hill that is slipping into the Cuyahoga River, and long since abandoned by pedestrian and commuters after the street was closed.  

Evidently, there was only one guy around, a veteran with some mental issues judging by the conspiracy theories he was relating to the reporter.  The other residents of Riverbed Road were not happy that the reporter looked in their tents.  They did not like that the veteran was representative of the residents, and the characterization of their beer choices as "poverty beer." They wanted me to pass along a message to the reporter to "stay out of their s@#t."   I have done that here. 

This population is one of the reasons that it is going to be impossible to meet the November 2014 deadline to end veteran's homelessness.  The veteran interviewed in the story has been in housing before and most of the current VA staff are aware of him.  He has multiple barriers to housing, and he has a deep mistrust for institutions such as government, the Veterans Administration, and the media.  It would take multiple agencies with health care, housing, mental health and legal help all sitting around the same table working together to stabilize these type of gentlemen.  Many have addictions or they self medicate to work through their issues.  They need care that just does not currently exist in our community.   They need a "no barrier" shelter in which everyone is welcomed.  Then they need help clearing up issues and building a trusting relationship with someone.  Then they need a level of care and understanding while in housing that really does not exist at this time.  We have a number of square pegs trying to access the VA system that need to fit into all the round holes we have built.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Amazing Donations

Pictured above are a group of mats that homeless people can use to sleep on.  These are plastic and can be used for those who are resistant to going into a shelter.  They are waterproof and comfortable.  The amazing thing is that these are all made out of recycled plastic bags from the grocery store.  It looks like some fabric or cord, but it is a homemade mat from plastic bags.  We did not get the name of the volunteers who did this amazing work, but we will get it for you so we can thank them.  Here is another picture:

Even the tie is made from plastic grocery bags.  The outreach workers are going to love these when they meet next week.  Thanks to all the people who put this together.  They are great. 

Speaking of donations, we did not make our goal of 5,000 blankets this year.  I think that the mild winter made it harder to get people into the frame of mind for donating.  Plus we actually did not need as many blankets.  There was not as many nights of overflow needed this last winter.  Here is the total number of donations for this past winter:

  • 495 Blankets
  • 82 hats
  • 22 coats
  • 32 pairs of socks
  • 115 bottles of cosmetics.
  • 27 wellness kits

We also received gloves, scarves, comforters, sleeping bags, fleece throws, hygiene kits, women's and mens clothing, spring jackets, sheets and bedding, sweat suits and adult diapers.  Thanks to everyone who donated items this year.  We gave them out to the outreach workers who are out on the street building a relationship with those living outside. 

Brian

The entries are the opinions of those who sign the post.