by Max Johnson
At the July meeting, the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH) Board of Trustees voted to reaffirm their commitment to four key goals for the upcoming year. These four goals: advocacy on behalf of the homeless population, community education around the issues of the homeless, publication of the Homeless Grapevine newspaper, and the empowerment of homeless persons, will become the main focus of NEOCH activities.
The board recently voted to maintain an administrative relationship with the Cleveland Tenants Organization (CTO), an organization dedicated to tenant rights, with Spencer Wells acting as Executive Director. Brian Davis, hired in March, is the current (and new) Director of NEOCH--Davis will coordinate the production of the Grapevine and all projects which NEOCH creates or in which NEOCH participates.
The Coalition will be constructed around representatives of the service provider network in Cleveland, advocates and members of NEOCH, and homeless or formerly homeless persons.
In support of these goals, NEOCH will organize a monthly forum for the homeless and low income to establish a dialogue concerning issues relating to shelters, hunger programs, the police, or other service providers. Input from these forums will guide programming for NEOCH and other organizations associated with NEOCH. Spencer Wells said, "something about it is important--for an organization in Cleveland to step up and advocate for affordable housing, which is almost non-existent in Northeast Ohio."
Strengthening the Grapevine and expanding it to other cities in Ohio will be a focus for the next year. Brian Davis will continue in his role. Davis said, "I want to try and get more homeless and low income involved in the production of the newspaper. I want the Grapevine to be a forum for the homeless to speak to Ohio, and the newspaper will amplify their voice until the public finally hears what is really going on here on the streets of America."
At the same time, NEOCH will educate its members to address local, state and national issues that impact the homeless and low income individuals. NEOCH members will be encouraged to exercise their rights to advise elected officials about their concerns. A public education campaign will be implemented by the Americorps*VISTA members on staff. They will focus attention on the problems that the homeless are facing by reaching out to the media, politicians, and business and civic organizations in Cleveland.
In adopting these goals for 1996, NEOCH Trustees adopted the idea of becoming a coalition of interests rather than a coalition of organizations. Over the coming year, Trustees will work to bring housing advocates and homeless people on to the Board to supplement the perspectives of homeless service providers.
Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published Oct. – Dec. 1995 Issue 12