Who Is She?

There she sit on the restaurant stool.
She's not asking for handouts or asking
For food.
Where she comes from and where she goes?
Is a mystery cause no one knows.
Is she rebelling against society?
Or hurt by her mother
Sister or brother?
Is she a victim of child abuse?
Losing her job or some other misuse?
Did she and her father, fallout?
Was her mother around?
Did she just walkout?
Did her man let her down?
Or did she just give up the fight?
Is she punishing her family
By sleeping in the streets
Both day and night.
She've got paper bags, plastic bags and
A worn-out suit case held together by strings.
I offered to light her cigarette and
My offer is refused.
Maybe she just don't get into them things.
She's a beautiful African sister she even has
She's a bag lady.
I guess you might say.
After I finished my coffee, I was going out
Of the door and I was still wondering
Who is she?
And what makes her live this way?
Sleeping in the streets night and day.
Where she comes from and where she goes?
Is a mystery cause no one knows.
She just roam and roam.
Why don't she have a home?
It's a mystery to me.
Every time I see her on Ninth Street
I wonder who is she?

by Anwar Aswad Amir

Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published January – February 1996 Issue 13

When Homeless People Die on the Streets

by Ravan

     What happens to the homeless when they die? It's something I've never thought about, maybe you haven't either. But, now that the question has been raised aren't you curious to know...
     Each year, the city of Cleveland buries 10-15 homeless persons as part of the "Indigent burial program." Though not a kind phrase "An individual is eligible for such a program when he or she is of low income and neither they nor their families can provide the burial costs." explains Robert Staib, Director of Cleveland Public Health.
Before such a monetary determination can be made, a small investigation is conducted first by the hospital or coroner and later if needed by the contracted funeral director. In a simple case, three to six phone calls can produce a friend or relative. Because the homeless often carry everything they own on them, leads such as a social workers' name and other random phone numbers in pockets are usually easy to find.
     What if there are no leads? "Some hospitals are better than others and have been known to hold the body up to 30 days in an effort to find friends and family," says Francis Corrigan, funeral director of F.J. Corrigan Funeral Home in Orange Village. If absolutely nothing can be found, a missing person file may be contacted where approximate age, sex, color and other vital information that can help solve the mystery.
     In addition to looking for friends and family of the deceased, sources of income for burial costs is also investigated. Any evidence of bank accounts, Social Security, Veteran's benefits or other forms of government assistance will relieve the city of the financial expense.
     When a homeless person dies, there are two paths the body may take. In either case, step one involves a report to Mark Kassouf, registrar of the Bureau of Vital Statistics. When the individual dies from natural conditions, for example in a hospital from old age, Corrigan will receive an prepare the body for funeral arrangements.
     Arrangements include the embalming and placement of the body in a burial box. If there are no family or friends found, a one hour viewing and service is provided. An appropriate Committal Prayer is selected from a minister's book, providing comforting words to a variety of denominations. If the family is found, they decide what they want to do.
     When a homeless person does not die in a public place, does not die of natural causes, or suspicion of foul play is involved, the legal responsibility to determine cause of death is assigned to the county coroner. According to Elizabeth Balraj, the Cuyahoga County Coroner, the most common causes of death are from "exposure to the harsh elements such as pneumonia, disease caused from poor health conditions such as tuberculosis, drug and alcohol related and some violence."
     Many of the homeless die because they don't have access to health care or fall victim to crime on the streets. Balraj also said, "whether a person is homeless or wealthy, they are treated with an equal amount of dignity and respect."
     If you would like to visit a homeless or other noted "indigent" gravesite they are located at Highland Park Cemetery in Highland Hills. I'm afraid you may not be able to find exactly the person you are looking for. There are no individual markers to identify the deceased or to say a few personal words. Impersonal numbered stakes replace the more dignified headstones. Among the nameless plots, a lonely stone complete with poem stands as a reminder of the persons we may have looked down on, shared a few dollars with, or shrugged with pity as we walked by. May they rest in peace.

Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published January – February 1996 Issue 13

WeShare's Job Training

By Leon Mumford

WeShare's "job training" program could not be considered direct assistance. The program apparently intends to teach homeless and needy people the art of telemarketing. Self-esteem audio and video tapes are played to WeShare trainee's for 15-20 minutes before each six-hour work shift, but hands on experience provides the bulk of the fledgling telemarketer's training.

For the first two weeks, WeShare trainees are paid the sub-minimum wage of $4.17 per hour. The employee that agreed to talk said she started on the telephone on her first day. If they stay at WeShare for a month, however, they graduate to a ceiling wage of $35 a day.

To keep their jobs, the telemarketers must take in $200 of mailed in pledge money a day. WeShare has suffered a fairly high turnover rate of 1500 employees in five years.
WeShare does not provide a job placement program for their employees. Neither can they provide a guarantee that all their employees are needy; Paul Orlowski's Target 3 investigation showed an extremely well dressed woman with an impressive resume easily secure a telemarketing job.

Many of the employees of WeShare have worked for an extended period of time with the company, and have not moved to better jobs as most job training programs require.

During the "job training" program, employees are paid for soliciting over 1 million dollars a year. This payment is an administrative cost, as it is immediately taken out of the money donated and used to sustain the operation of the company.

Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published January – February 1996 Issue 13

Vision Problems for Homeless Addressed

by Mike McCray

     John Carter lost both his eye to glaucoma on the streets. A photograph of him was describe as "a haunting" image by members of Barbara Bush's staff, and led to their support of a Cleveland initiative to help homeless people with visual problems, in 1990.
     There was a homeless man who could not hear or speak and discovered that he had glaucoma.
     Two brothers were both going blind on the streets from glaucoma. One did not know he was eligible for disability which would have paid for the medicine. He was already blind in one eye before he discovered this fact. He did not discover that he could get the glaucoma medicine until it was too late for his one eye.
     A elderly homeless man only consents to surgery because he is mugged and could not see the mugger coming. Fear kept him for being treated. When he finally was treated, it was only one eye.
     A homeless ex-policeman who had been shot in the face, ran over by a truck, and suffering from emotional problems and alcoholism, developed sever cataracts from the trauma.
     A young woman is beaten blind in one eye because of a bad relationship. Her homelessness causes more immediate problems than her health.
     Everything past a few feet is a blur for Michael Copeland, he can only make out the big "E" on the eye chart. Ever since he lost his glasses, learning to read has been a struggle. It is hard enough to try and turn around your life when you are homeless, but it is next to impossible when you can not see.
     To Michael, who is working hard to improve his life by taking classes to learn to read, improvement and opportunity came to a stand still when he lost he pop bottle eye glasses.
     People seldom think of visual problems when they think of health. Most insurance plans do not even cover a yearly eye exam let alone a new pair of glasses. For a homeless person on the streets not seeing means filling out a job application is next to impossible.
     It is funny how for small investment can make a big difference in the life of someone else.
     The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, Ohio Prevent Blindness, Healthcare for the Homeless, and the Cleveland Eye Clinic are attempting to restart the program to provide eyeglasses for homeless people in Cleveland.
     The project was the idea of Dr. Eric Eleff formerly of the Cleveland Eye Clinic who was frustrated with not being to get a person a pair of glasses who was visually handicapped without them. At the same time the Cleveland Eye Clinics' outreach received a call from a homeless woman who had a job promised to her if she could get some glasses.
     A number of homeless people are literally going blind on the streets for a number of reason. Glaucoma has robbed a number of the men on the streets of some their vision. Presently, no one is screening homeless women or children for visual problems. With a decline in testing and the lack of easy access to the heath care system, this population will increase. A person with a problem that can be treated can become a disabled person that will require a much larger social investment, and may never leave the welfare roll without proper screening and treatment.
     NEOCH is currently looking for volunteers to assist with this program. If you are interested in helping please call 241-1104.

Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published January – February 1996 Issue 13


by Andre Lorenzo
     Many people sleep on the bus, but because I didn't have the full bus fare and the fact that I looked homeless, they arrested me. I know that I will keep one eye open from now on.
     It's already tough being homeless, but people make it harder. You may have clothes that don't fit that well, or shoes that are too big or your hair might not be combed because you don't have a comb that day. You get the point!
     Well, it happened to me one morning, after getting on the bus to go downtown.
I didn't make the shelter the night before because of the time. So I really was sleepy while riding an RTA [bus]. When the bus got to Tower City, I was asleep and the only one on the bus. Instead of the bus driver waking me up, she called the RTA police.
     When they arrived they immediately woke me up and told me to get off the bus. I apologized to the bus driver and to the police. But my clothes weren't the best so they arrested me. (That's the only reason that I can think of). I was in complete shock. They charged me with disorderly conduct and intoxication. I hadn't been drinking; I was just tired. They had no proof I was drunk, and didn't test me. My complaint read:
"Did, while voluntarily intoxicated do either of the following: 1. In a public place or in the presence of two or more persons, engage in conduct likely to be offensive or to cause inconvenience, annoyance or alarm to persons of ordinary sensibilities, which conduct the offender, if he were not intoxicated, should know is likely to have such effect on others; 2. Engage in conduct or create a condition which presents a risk of physical harm to himself or another, or to the property."
     They took me to the fourth district police station. I told them that my name was Joe Piscopo, which made them mad. And that's where I stayed from Saturday morning to Thursday evening: five-and-one-half days for sleeping on the bus.
     The public defender did not talk to me until they called my case, and then he said that I was not guilty. I could not cover the $50 bail, so I had to go to the workhouse until my trial.
     I was tired of being in jail for sleeping on the bus, so I just said no contest at the trial just to get out of jail. That is how the system works.
     People should have more compassion for each other. But I'm talking about the real world. So the best thing I can suggest to you, or to us homeless people, is don't ride the RTA looking homeless. BUT WHAT DOES A HOMELESS PERSON LOOK LIKE???

Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published January – February 1996 Issue 13

The Breakfast

By Kate Uhlir
Fragments of newspaper swirl wildly in the winter gusts.
     November's cruel authority grabs and imprisons Cleveland, spreading biting cold with 40-mile-an-hour winds. November! Winter adds new dimensions to Cleveland's homeless, who often sleep on concrete and steel streets.
     "Hey man, leese it ain't snowin'!" Ed's pleasant, mellow voice doesn't have much comfort for the trio who sleep in skull caps, overcoats and plastic garbage bags. The night on Superior Avenue's sidewalks means huddling together in a large cardboard box. And not moving around much. If you move in the plastic shelters, you have to be careful not to make rips. Even a little rip'll quickly conquer all the warmth in these fragile shelters.
     A little white churchwoman steps into the street from the front of St. Peter's church. She blows up warm air from her lower lip to her cold nose. She shivers, pulls up her coat collar. She takes a deep breath and puts her hands into her pockets and stands still. She's watching a sad chapter in Cleveland's downtown life.
     Three street people gently huddle together against the cold. She hears their soft voices chuckle and laugh. Should she envy the comfort they eagerly give each other? The little white churchwoman has been lonely for a long time.
     "It's so loving. It's so loving," she murmurs to herself.
     Hushed voices continue. "Ain't snowin', but Ed man, it sho cold!"
     The soft voice of a young woman! Surprised, the little churchwoman sees Catherine, who spent the night in a clean, warm bed at the women's shelter. Who walked to 18th and Superior to find Ed amid the plastic-sheathed trio on the sidewalk. Catherine wants warm food for Ed. Today it's too cold to be without warm food. How will she get warm food?
     It's Sunday. Cosgrove's closed.
     Five mornings a week, downtown's Bishop Cosgrove Center is open. It's warm; full of homeless people who chat, drink hot coffee and eat great day-old pastries. But today, Cosgrove's closed and a noisy, bitter wind blows newspaper into the air outside.
     Ed's baritone voice swells again. "First off woman, we gotta get you some gloves. Looka yer hands." Catherine nods. She walked through the streets to look after Ed, but Ed's first thoughts are for her. He presses her bony fingers between his warm palms. The 28-year-old woman stares silently at their four hands locked together.
Catherine stares a lot. Words don't work anymore. Everything's been said. She has nothing to add. Her mouth tastes bitter; with loss, discouragement, loneliness, stupidity, ugliness. Her head's filled with her momma's screams, "You never gonna be nothin'." Catherine's lived with years of drugs and abuse. She feels too destroyed to rebloom.
     But Ed talks gently. He patiently insists that Catherine is important and beautiful. Ed's smart and strong. His words are so important now.
     "Can I get anyone some coffee?" The little churchwoman's voice sounds strange!
Jack squints a wondering eye upward. He answers with a grunt and slides further into his plastic bag. Ed smiles a mellow, "Yeah, we'll go." Catherine nods.
     Ed and Catherine crawl out of their bags. They straighten their overcoats in the cold. They fold their ragged blankets and cardboard shelter. Ed's voice continues his appreciation. "This'll be great! Y'know, Cosgrove's closed today. This'll be great."
"Car's over there. Hop in." The little churchwoman opens the door of her big car. Their little world warms quickly and for a long moment, it's so wonderful. The trio drive to the East Side.
     Ed chats about his part-time short-order cook job and his ability to juggle many orders efficiently. "I love to cook," he says. Catherine smiles silently. Laughter interrupts the chatter. Half-hour later, everyone bounds into the little churchwoman's pretty house in the Heights.
     "Nice place ya got here, ma'am!"
     "It is, indeed." But the little churchwoman wonders what her neighbors will say. A strange trio with big plastic garbage bags full of blankets and folded cardboard pieces. What will she tell her kids if they come for a Sunday morning visit and see that she has homeless street people in the kitchen for breakfast? What would she do?
     Her silent questions quickly change into, "Would you like to shower and freshen up a bit while I make coffee and French toast?"
      "Yeah, man!" Eagerly, Ed goes into his big bag and withdraws a small, zip-lock baggie. It's a tidy shaving kit, complete with a tiny bottle of skin bracer. The little churchwoman gives him a large fresh towel and leads him up the steps to shower. She returns to her kitchen and chats with Catherine. The two make breakfast. Ten minutes later they hear Ed's mellow voice again. "Feel like a brand new man, ma'am." He looks wonderful. And they all laugh.
     It's Catherine's turn to shower. The little churchwoman finds a wool skirt. Offering it to Catherine, she says, "I hope you won't be offended. But I can't wear it anymore. I've gained weight. Catherine, I don't have any extra gloves, but I think I've got a pair of earrings you'd like. And here's a lipstick. It'll help those chapped lips."
     A ten-minute miracle later, Catherine enters the breakfast room. her black eyes dance as she swings the dangling earrings. She's full of giggles and beaming.

Breakfast is fragrant, tasty and loving. For a long moment the world is warm and so wonderful.

Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published January – February 1996 Issue 13

Temporary Agencies Provide Low Wages

Nani Acasio and Pat Clifford

     Many of the homeless are working, but are stuck in temporary jobs which fail to get them out of shelters. These were the findings of a survey taken in a Cincinnati homeless shelter. Thirty homeless people who worked for temporary labor pools were interviewed in an attempt to find out how homeless people are treated by these agencies. While some had adequate experiences, many expressed problems.
"Overworked, Underpaid" was the general consensus of those interviewed. Minute Men, Inc. in Cincinnati had employed 25 of the 30 people interviewed--the vast majority. They also received the majority of the complaints including: long delays in being sent to a job (if sent at all) as well as "deducts" taken from their checks. One very common complaint expressed was the rude and belittling treatment given to the temporary. workers.
     Dave, a dispatcher at Minute Men, admitted that sometimes people are asked to wait for possible jobs. "We often do not have enough jobs for all people." "In order to have a chance, you have to be present...We open at 4 a.m," Dave commented.
There were specific complaints about "Ron," branch manager at Minute Men, and his disrespectful, belittling and rude behaviors toward the temp workers. According to one participant, "You are called by what you are wearing, not your name, even though he knows your name."
     One survey participant explained that he was assigned to work at a place which required him to carry 80 pounds of salt although he had a crippled hand. After requesting to be placed elsewhere; doing work he was capable of performing, he stated that "Ron" told him that he would not be sent out on any more jobs. This participant expressed his willingness and ability to do other available jobs, but these were denied to him.
     Minute Men employs an average of 150 people per day. Their average wage is $4.25 per hour, $1 is deducted for transportation each way. The workers are charged $10 for gloves or safety glasses if they lose them.
     Minute Men charges employers $8 per hour for their service.
It is common for people to get injured on the job and compensation is hard to acquire. The survey noted injuries received by temp workers ranged from minor cuts and bruises to nerve damage.
     One Minute Men worker complained of wrist pain due to repetitive movement at a packing plant. He requested a different job but was ignored.
Another person received permanent tendon and nerve damage when his right pointer finger was cut to the bone. His immediate medical bills were paid, but he was given no further help. His finger remains numb.
     One agency was the exception to the rule. Four workers had been employed by Belcan, Inc. on Fountain Square. Statements regarding Belcan included higher wages, personal treatment and no deductions taken for transportation. Another characteristic was the agency's attempt to find a job for the temp. worker which could later turn into a permanent job. One participant summed it up, " You were treated like a person."
     Cecilia Horne, the Acting Branch Manager, said that they do outreach to places like the Job Corps and Talbert House to find employees. Belcan's average pay was $5.25 per hour and employees are eligible to pay health benefits after working 180 hours.
The fee they charge employees varies depending on the job.
Thirty people currently residing in a Cincinnati homeless shelter were asked about their experiences with temp labor pools. Here are some of the results:

Which agencies have you worked at?
25 Minute Men, Inc.
10 Cincinnati Temporary Labor
5 Labor World
4 Belcan
3 CM
3 Action Labor
11 Other
What type of job did they send you on?
16 Packing
4 Factory
3 Assembly Line
2 Stocking
2 Construction
26 Other
Transportation Deducts?
19 $1 each way
2 $2 each way
1 $3 each way

Note: Many of the people currently residing in Cincinnati homeless shelters have worked at more than one temp. agency; some did not answer all the questions so totals vary.

Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published January – February 1996 Issue 13

Salvation Army to Oversee Overflow Shelters

by Brian Davis
     The first stages of the Continuum of Care proposal to get people off the streets and into permanent housing will begin in the summer of 1996 with the Salvation Army overseeing operation of the men's overflow sites now operated by Project HEAT and First United Methodist Church.
     Project HEAT operates a women's site and three men's facilities. They offer a bed roll to approximately 270 people, and on dangerously cold nights squeeze as many people as possible in the four sites.
     Project HEAT has faced criticism for moving the sites with little warning, and not responding to clients' or city officials' concerns. They faced opposition in various neighborhoods and within County-owned buildings, which has prevented Project HEAT from expanding in the past.
     The Department of Housing and Urban Development granted Cuyahoga County early in 1995 an Innovative Demonstration Grant to provide outreach, shelter, assessment and case management to the chronically homeless. The Salvation Army was the only group locally that agreed to oversee the plan with support from Mental Health Services, the Veterans Administration, Healthcare for the Homeless, and the Cosgrove Center.
     The Salvation Army was asked by the County to oversee the men's Project HEAT sites as part of overseeing the Innovative Grant which was referred to as the Pick-Up, Assessment, Services and Shelter Program or P.A.S.S. program,
The County Office of Homeless Services Advisory Board raised questions about the Salvation Army proposal. Most notably the 30 day limit that the Salvation Army was intending to place on those that stayed at the HEAT sites, and the accessibility of the PASS program to those in the Heat site. One other obstacle was that Salvation Army will operate the PASS program from their facility at 60th and Hough, which is not near any of the other services for the homeless in Cleveland.
     The Salvation Army wants the County/City to underwrite the purchase and rehabilitation of a building to hold all the men currently in the HEAT site as well as the men entering the PASS program. This would be a mega-shelter that will accommodate approximately 300 people.
     In the past, Cleveland city council members and various neighborhood groups have blocked Project HEAT from moving or expanding. Ruth O'Leary of the Office of Homeless Services said, "It will be tough to find a site, but we need to proceed."
The individual that chooses to enter the PASS program will be assigned a case worker, undergo regular drug screenings, and will develop a 30-90 day treatment plan. Case managers will assist in locating available programs and/or affordable housing. Job training and placement will also be offered to those that need assistance. The PASS participants will have access to daily recreational activities.
The program is funded by HUD for two years for $913,000.
     O'Leary said, "It is too soon to say what impact it will have on the homeless community." She was sorry that it had taken so long to implement the plan.
     The men will receive cots when the Salvation Army takes control of the HEAT sites. The welfare office at 1641 Payne which currently shelters older men and those with a mental disability will probably close. The Salvation Army site at Hough will be able to make up for the loss of the Payne site and can safely add more slots for men.
At this time, the women's site will remain under the control of First United Methodist Church.
     The County Advisory Board has asked that the Salvation Army begin operation of the other three sites by May 1996.

Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published January – February 1996 Issue 13

Brown's Rison Gives to Homeless

     With all the negative publicity surrounding the Browns in 1995, Andre Rison kept his word with a $3,000 donation to the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless.
          Rison said at the beginning of the season that he would donate $1,000 for every touchdown that he scored to NEOCH. As it turned out, Rison was able to get in the end zone three times for a generous $3,000 donation to NEOCH.
        The money will be used to assist regular vendor's of the Homeless Grapevine in Cleveland to further their education or receive job training.
        The Board of Director's of NEOCH would like to thank Rison and the Browns for their support, and a hope that this donation is the beginning of a strong relationship between NEOCH and Rison in Cleveland.

Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published January – February 1996 Issue 13

Report Says Federal Budget Will Increase Homelessness

by Max Johnson

     The current Congressional budget being debated in Washington reduces funding in homeless emergency assistance an average of 27% and makes sweeping changes to the welfare program. The National Coalition on Homelessness released a report entitled "The Unbalanced Budget: The Impact of the Congressional Budget on Homelessness," which concludes that the budget will "dramatically increase homelessness."
     The National Coalition surveyed agencies across the United States to compile this report which focuses on those pieces of the federal budget that will likely increase homelessness. They note that "the most vulnerable of our citizens are condemned to poverty and hopelessness while the most fortunate are allocated a disproportionate share of national wealth.
     In the commentary preceding the report, the authors wrote, "Too many of our people live in generations of poverty, in despair, in disregard, and in exclusion. Too many of our fellow citizens do not have the equality of opportunity that is the defining force for their futures."
     The report sites some fact that they claim go unmentioned in the current budget debate. The report shows that in no state does the combination of Aid to Families with Dependent Children and Food Stamps equal the designated federal poverty level. One in four of the AFDC families live in public housing or receive housing assistance. According to the 1995 U. S. Conference of Mayors' survey, 20 percent of the homeless population were engaged in full or part-time work.
     The same incorrect assumptions that have ended General Assistance in Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan and other states are the theories behind welfare reform according to "The Un-Balanced Budget."
     The budget is being balanced, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless, on the backs of the poor. "Approximately $400 billion of the $1 trillion in programmatic cuts that are required to balance the budget by 2002 would come from programs targeted to low-income households--roughly twice the share of the federal budget made up by these programs," according to the report.
     Locally, the homeless service providers surveyed will see reductions in staff and services. Sue DiNardo, Director of the Salvation Army women's shelter said, "We would have to reduce staff by three to four people and limit intakes to daytime hours. Currently, we turn away 40 to 60 people a week."
     Buddy Gray of the Drop Inn center in Cincinnati said, "Our goal to expand the help we give to women would be eliminated. The self help we do would be eliminated. And the whole theory of helping people up by their bootstraps becomes very difficult when our people have no boots."
     Templum House for Domestic Violence in Cleveland reports that the cuts will mean that one-third of their budget will be cut, and they will decrease staff by two employees. They try not to turn anyone away, but some ancillary services cannot be offered because a lack of resources.
     Cathy Whalen, Director of Chabad House in Cincinnati, said, "We definitely will have to lay off one staff person, and our homeless prevention projects will go."

Prevention money would be cut according to Lakewood Christian Service Center in Cuyahoga County and essential services would be cut. A large number of their clients are Section 8 voucher recipients.
     Rosemary Pryor of the YWCA Alice Paul House said that a cut in funding represents about $5,000 in funding for their domestic violence shelter in Cincinnati. "This means the difference between a woman getting a safe shelter and not," she said. Citing the confidential transportation from area hospitals to the shelter as an area that would be cut.
     The National Coalition for the homeless adopted the following goals for the federal government to reverse current trends of more poverty, more homelessness, and longer periods of homelessness for individuals:
"1. A long range plan and immediate commitment to reducing poverty and eliminating the structural causes of homelessness including the lack of a livable wage, lack of affordable housing and lack of holistic health care.
2. Ensuring that people are able to sustain themselves during crises times. The nemesis must be defined as poverty not those who are poor. "

Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published January – February 1996 Issue 13

Politicians and People

This is the time of year
when you put on your charity coat.
A time of wonder and cheer,
but allow me to rock the boat;
In every great city of the world
Behind those beautiful department stores
The city shows a different kind of face
One that's ugly and such a disgrace
It's millions of faces without any names
Many men, women, and even children
and it's such a crying shame.
They are living out in the streets
and quickly growing old.
But surely, no one deserves to live out in the cold.
Politicians and People
Hear the cries.
Use your influence to help absorb
the tears from your eyes.
Remember that the hands of fate can soon knock on your door,
for no one knows what tomorrow has in store.

The name on the inside of your coats lapel
maybe a London Fog but any designer name will do as well.
But for those downtown singing the blues,
their coat consists of the Sun Times or the Daily News.
Day by day they weather the storm;
Hopefully, the steam from the ground will keep them warm.
And for those who are afraid of this site,
your fear is senseless, for they are too weak to fight.
This is the time of year
To put on that charity coat.
A time of wonder and cheer
but somewhere along the way, we missed the boat.
I wish you'd give something and be concerned
Something that can't be deducted on your tax return.
It's time to look in those faces without any names,
and do something to make their lives more humane.
And for those who think this problem is as far away as the moon,
it will be coming to a theater in your neighborhood real soon.
Heartless world
Hear the cries.
The next time you're in trouble and seek help above the skies.
Put one in for those who have felt fates hands.
Make a commitment to do what you can...
Politicians and People!


Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published January – February 1996 Issue 13

from Oliver Twist

"The night was bitter cold. The snow lay on the ground, frozen into a hard thick crust, so that only the heaps that had drifted into by-ways and corners were affected by the sharp wind that howled abroad: which, as if expending increased fury on such prey as it found, caught it savagely up in clouds, and, whirling it into a thousand misty eddies, scattered it in air. Bleak, dark, and piercing cold, it was a night for the well-housed and fed to draw round the bright fire and thank God they were at home; and for the homeless, starving wretch to lay him down and die. Many hunger-worn outcasts close their eyes in our bare streets, at such times, who, let their crimes have been what they may, can hardly open them in a more bitter world."

from Oliver Twist
Chapter 23
by Charles Dickens

Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published January – February 1996 Issue 13

"Mr. Miyagi" Killed in Flats Tony Mel or Mr. Miaggi

by Brian Davis

      Tony Mel, a man known to the homeless community and pedestrians in the Flats as Mr. Miaggi was killed November 25 in a vacant warehouse in the Flats. Mel suffered extensive bumps and bruises and was killed by a heavy blow to the head. No motive was established, but another homeless person was arrested and charged with murder.
     Mel frequented the bars in the Flats and was prone to excessive drinking and abusive language. He was the Charles Bukowski of the Cleveland Flats. He was the fallen quiet man that is a fixture in every big city in America.
     Mel was the type of man that is the model for characters in literature as far back as Shakespeare. The remote observer with a simple addiction that was triggered by one event in his life that he never got over.
     Bob Gogne of the West Side Catholic Center said, "he was an independent man that always seemed to make money. He would give the shirt off your back." Gogne said that he was an enigma, who had very little contact with anyone.
     Ron Reinhart of the Cosgrove Center agreed. "He kept to himself. He didn't frequent the [shelters or meal sites or other social service centers]. Everyone liked him," Reinhart commented.
     "All the bartenders liked him," said Robert, a bartender in the Flats. "We had to kick him out for being drunk, and he would shout obscenities, but we knew he was harmless," Robert explained.
     "I remember one night he fell asleep looking up at the big screen, and he sat there for hours without moving. We didn't know he was asleep until 3 a.m. when we told him that we were closed," Robert said.

Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published January – February 1996 Issue 13

Making Money Off the Homeless?

By Leon Mumford

     They are told to "keep smiling and keep dialing," ... because every donation pledge they sell on behalf of the homeless goes towards a total revenue in excess of $1 million a year.
     Operating from their 12-station telephone headquarters on the corner of West 32nd and Lorain, "WeShare" tele-solicitors make about 180,000 calls a month to residents of Cuyahoga County, Cleveland and its surrounding suburbs.
      But according to Ron Reinhart, program coordinator at the Bishop Cosgrove Center, Downtown, WeShare is stealing rather than giving to the homeless, "even if they are doing it legally."   Reinhart was asked to join WeShare by trustee-owners Carl Woodman and Tom Warholic when they were first setting up the company in 1988.
     "I had been involved with some of these operations before," Reinhart said, "but it was on the cutting edge of being dishonest, so I decided not to go in with them. "Reinhart believes that the percentage of money actually being distributed to the homeless is the central issue exploited by a lot of similar telemarketing companies.
     "To be perfectly honest, I think a lot of people are gullible," he said, "they need to realize that the people who run these companies are getting their share of the money too."
       Is WeShare taking its fair share of the well intentioned donations? Nobody seems to know.
       In registration forms filed with the state Attorney General since 1991, WeShare claim that their primary purpose is "to support job training and personal development programs for the homeless."
        But, in 1993, they also reported that they distributed $374,377, or 38.2% of their revenue, directly to the poor. That's 11.2% more than what they spent on their "Job Training Program [See article on the job training].
       Warholic explained WeShare's direct assistance policy. He says that WeShare allocates a certain amount of money to various referral agents, usually social workers, who screen needy applicants and then sends them to WeShare for immediate help.
        "Once they come to us, we'll cut them a check directly to their utility company to pay an outstanding debt, or to their landlord for rent," says Warholic.
          The Tremont Opportunity Center, the Rainbow Babies and Children Hospital and the Spanish American Committee sprang to Warholic's mind as prominent examples of the referral system used by WeShare to help the homeless.
         But each of these well established charity programs say they are receiving very little or no assistance from WeShare.
        "We haven't received anything from them since the end of July," says Donna Peters, directing coordinator at the Tremont Opportunity Center. "They keep telling us they have limited funds."  Peters does not believe that WeShare has ever been a significant contributor to their cause. "Every day we help six clients with rental needs," she says. "That costs about $1000 daily."
         Before the four month contribution drought, WeShare used to allow up to $500 a month to be spent on referrals screened by Tremont Center agents, Peters said. "But the money was used up very quickly," she continued.

          Meager WeShare funds are being absorbed by The Rainbow Babies and Children Hospital, too. Although social worker Susan Hancharik, who used to be the pediatric supervisor at Rainbow, is satisfied with the contributions made by WeShare she estimated that only five referrals are aided by WeShare donations every month. "Sometimes they spend as much as $100 on a patient (referral)," said Hancharik, "other times it's $20-$30, or they help by donating a household appliance... like a refrigerator."
           Hancharik said that she appreciates the flexible, immediate service provided by WeShare. But their actual contribution amounts to an absolute maximum of $500 a month in cold hard cash. That's an annual expense of $6,000, or 1.6%, of their $374,377 direct assistance revenue.
   And that's not taking into account the occasional month that WeShare has not been able to provide any help. "Sometimes," said Hancharik, "they tell us they don't have funding until next month."
           Leo Serrano, executive director of the Spanish American Committee, has not been receiving any money from WeShare lately.   "I decided to terminate our relationship with WeShare about a year ago, when I was made the executive director," he said, "because they would not give us any financial audited statements." "They were using our name and I wanted to know how the money was being spent on the referrals we were giving them," continued Serrano.
            That's familiar territory for WeShare to be stepping on. Because they've butted heads with the establishment for using names in the past.   Chip Joseph, director of emergency assistance programs at Catholic Charities, who coordinates all catholic fund raising, encouraged every program under the Catholic Charity umbrella to stop accepting any WeShare contributions in September, 1991.
           "They were using the names of some of our programs for their own promotional purposes and they were being investigated by the Attorney General's office," said Joseph, who went on to stress that none of his programs have been affiliated with WeShare for five years.
           "I have lodged a complaint with the Attorney General," said Joseph, "because they have continued to use the name of West Side Catholic Center and Shelter when they in no way support either. I don't care what else they do, but it is against the law to falsely represent who you are supporting," said Joseph.
            "One of our tele-solicitors must have made a mistake," said Treasurer Bob Woodman in WeShare's defense.
           But that seems to be a mistake that has been repeated quite a few times during WeShare's history. Leading representatives of St. Augustine, San Juan Batuista, St. Vincent De Paul Society and West Side Catholic Center, all involved in assisting the needy in WeShare's immediate geographic area, said that they have formally asked WeShare to stop mis-representing their programs.
           Agnes Hoskins, director of the West Side Catholic Center, says "WeShare's telemarketing script is confusing and leads people to believe that we are associated with them ... We get calls weekly, inquiring how much help WeShare gives us."
According to ex-telemarketer, Reinhart, companies like WeShare have to use the name of other organizations so that they can tell potential donors where their money will go. If that is the case, WeShare seems to be rapidly running out of names they can use to endorse their business.
           Bill Roberts, general manager of St. Vincent De Paul Society's six thrift stores throughout the city, said that their veiled relationship with WeShare is now "under review." Even though the St. Vincent is subordinate to Catholic Charities, Roberts has been receiving clothes and poverty stricken people with WeShare vouchers for about a year.
           "They asked us to initiate a voucher system because they said they had so many people in need," said Roberts. Under the system, people in need of clothing receive a voucher from WeShare representatives, which is transferred to a letter of introduction at St. Vincent De Paul's main office at 5309 Superior Ave., then converted to a clothing voucher valid at any one of the St. Vincent's stores.
            Usually, vouchers and donated clothing are processed through St. Vincent DePaul Conference sessions and various county agencies such as the Welfare Department, the Inner Church Council or United Way, said Roberts, so that the volume of donations are recorded. But it appears that Roberts made a special arrangement with WeShare general manager Jim Woodman. "We channeled their request," said Roberts "and we treated them as an agency because they said they had so many people in need."
            DePaul has been picking up WeShare's excess clothing donations as often as three times a week because they have better storage facilities, according to Roberts, who admitted that his branch stores have benefited from the WeShare contributions.
The homeless, however, have not benefited from the relationship. Roberts said that only 160 WeShare vouchers have been processed since June. That's not really much of an increase to his store's traffic, considering that approximately 30-40 vouchers are processed by the St. Vincent Society every day.
            Although Roberts was quick to point out that St. Vincent De Paul Society is in no way affiliated with WeShare, a message echoed by the St. Vincent's executive director Lawrence Leuter, WeShare has received DePaul receipts for all of the clothes that they left for the DePaul truck to pick up.
           Tele-solicitors from WeShare could, quite legitimately then, say they work with St. Vincent DePaul Society to help the homeless... even though WeShare is "in no way affiliated" with the St. Vincent Society.
           Through all the confusion surrounding the "name game," it is becoming increasingly difficult to understand where that $374,377 of assistance money was spent, especially considering that WeShare only hands out direct assistance once, and once only, per person.
           Tom Warholic says, for instance, he has lost count of the amount of checks WeShare have made out to the Jay Hotel, in Tremont, just to keep desperate homeless people off the streets for a night or two.
           Perhaps this is where a more significant portion of the direct assistance money was spent. But according to the Jay's general manager, Harold Dubber, a maximum of two WeShare guests a month are sheltered at his hotel for up to a weeks stay at a time. A single room at the Jay costs $21.47 a night, but Dubber offers a special weekly rate of $81.58. He declined to comment further after he spoke to "a WeShare owner." Using his most extreme estimates, however, it appears that WeShare allocated a maximum of $1,958 of their $374,377 worth of direct assistance money to provide shelter for homeless people at the Jay Hotel.

         Hardly the significant contribution implied by Warholic when he said that he had lost count of the amount of checks he had sent to the Hotel on behalf of the homeless. In fact, it's only 0.5% of the assistance revenue.
           "Because of some enormous loop-holes in our laws," said a skeptical Reinhart, "organizations like WeShare will continue to operate."
Reinhart is partly referring to WeShare's non-profit status. According to assistant attorney general Monica Maloney, WeShare are registered as an incorporated non-profit organization.
           Because they are soliciting for a charitable purpose, they must register with us on an annual basis," said Maloney. The registration process demands the payment of a flat fee and the disclosure of a "financial report." Most organizations soliciting for charity file for a 501c3 because, as well as granting solicitation rights, this status also authorizes an organization to accept tax deductible monies.
           "99% of charitable contributions are 501c3 tax deductions," said William Joseph, an attorney specializing in non-profit law at Western Herd. "I've never heard of an organization soliciting without a 501c3."
            501c3 organizations are also required to file 990 returns to the IRS, information which is available for public scrutiny.
           "The one asset all my programs have is their non-profit 501c3 status," said Chip Joseph, "it legitimizes [them] because it says that you have a certain amount of full disclosure to the state through the Attorney General's office."
           But WeShare has not applied for 501c3 status. They are only required to file a "financial report" with the state attorney general. "They do not necessarily have to file a 990 return to us or the IRS," said Maloney. Instead, under section 1716.04 of the Ohio revised code, WeShare arbitrarily dictates their own financial balance sheet at the end of every fiscal year, to the Attorney General.
           Maloney defended the apparent weakness of this code. The attorney general further investigates all organizations soliciting for a charitable purpose, she said, when there is an obvious discrepancy in the financial reports they send to us.
            "We would investigate, for instance," said Maloney, "if their was something wrong with the amount of money they distribute in relation to their income." And non profit attorney, Joseph said that the attorney general's "financial report" requirements are not as strict as 501c3 tax exempt requirements.
            Nevertheless, according to the financial report WeShare filed with the Attorney General in 1993, they distributed $374,377 directly to the homeless and needy in that year.
            Considering that their contribution income for 1993 totaled $979,720 it would appear that WeShare gave 38.2% of their revenue to the homeless and the needy. This percentage must have been an acceptable ratio, because the Attorney General did not question WeShare's registration application for 1993.
            But the people supposedly benefiting from WeShare's direct assistance program have said that they are either receiving little or nothing from WeShare. And a surplus of $252,691.05, generated by WeShare over the four years they have reported to the Attorney General, remains unaccounted for. This is accomplished by showing a year end surplus, and not including the surplus in the next year's report.
           Maloney would not reveal the results of the investigation on WeShare made by the Attorney General in 1991. "I cannot even tell you if there was an investigation," she said.
           Meanwhile, officials from WeShare remain optimistic about the future. "We are now contacting corporations through direct mail marketing," said Woodman. It appears that Woodman, who used to work for General Electric as a tax auditor, has discovered another legal absurdity. Despite the fact that WeShare is not allowed to accept tax deductible donations, because they do not qualify for 501c3 status, Woodman said that IRS Code Section 162 (a) provides for an allowance to deduct "ordinary and necessary expenses from income tax."
           Woodman further explained that if the management and directors of a corporation wanted to make a contribution to WeShare and if they thought that the contribution would help the working environment of some of their employees, then that would be considered an "ordinary and necessary expense," allowing the Corporation to deduct it from their returns.
           Woodman is expecting this new form of income to make a big difference. "Once this publicity comes out, we will be really legitimate," he said. "Corporations will make substantial contributions to WeShare," continued Woodman. That's in addition to a 50% increase in total revenue, a result expected by WeShare officials after the installation of a fully automated dialing system about a year ago.
            Woodman persistently points out that WeShare distinguishes itself from other charitable organizations, because the money that they receive goes directly back out to the poor, without involving any administrative costs.
            Ron Reinhart, however, is part of a growing number of people with unresolved suspicions about WeShare's management.
           "They use the homeless to get money. That is the only real difference between WeShare and the established charity agencies," says Reinhart.
           "I am sure they do help the homeless a little," said Tammie Taylor, who used to be one of WeShare's top writers earning up to $3,500 of mailed in pledge money a week. "But I am saying I have seen the amount of money they make and the number of people they turn away... and it just doesn't add up," she continued.
            Another former employee of WeShare who asked to remain anonymous said, "I brought in about $80,000 in pledges [a year] with 90 percent of the people sending in the money, and I wasn't even the best one on the phones." He claimed there was a great deal of secrecy with the money collected, and said the money was used for nice meals and trips.
            Taylor is now completely disillusioned with her former employers. She is homeless again. The only nourishment she has been able to find of late comes from West Side Catholic Center, who serve free lunches daily... directly across the street from a company called "WeShare," the self-proclaimed "Voice of the Homeless."

Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published January – February 1996 Issue 13

Life on the Church Pew with Plenty of Prayer

by Jim

My name is Jim. After more than 17 years of family abuse and neglect and a nervous breakdown I became homeless. I stayed homeless because I had no marketable job skills. Here is one story of my odyssey.

It was March of 1985 I was in Savannah Georgia. After staying my first 2 nights in a winter emergency shelter, the winter emergency shelter closed because it was the first day of spring and technically winter was over even though it was still cold enough to see your breath.

There were no Catholic shelters in the city at that time. The emergency shelter was well heated, newly renovated , but there was petty thievery and to solve that problem more supervision would be needed. The thievery was done by members of a homeless street gang.

While in Savannah a policemen told me that street gangs were becoming a problem and that there were 3 gangs in the city. No food was ever served in the emergency shelter. As far as missions go it was a good mission. I realized that I needed help for my emotional illness, so I sought help from the local government.

I was told by an intake worker that after a week I could be in an apartment. I found out that there was another mission in the city. It seemed that after more than two and a half years of homelessness I would get off the streets into permanent housing.

But it was not to be. The rescue mission had a policy of waking up the clients 4 times during the night for one half hour of prayer. Bedtime was at Eight-thirty . The staff then woke up the transients up at nine , twelve midnight, three a.m., and six. At seven a.m. the staff woke up the homeless clients to vacate the mission. There were no beds in the mission. The homeless slept on wooden church pews. There were no cushions nor pillows, nor were there any blankets. The staff, who were not homeless had coffee and doughnuts for breakfast. The homeless ate no breakfast. The homeless also ate no dinner.

There was a lunch at a local soup kitchen. The food was not hot. There were no seconds. After my second night in the religious rescue mission I suffered so badly from sleep deprivation that I did not know what day it was, and I did not know the day of the month. I remember saying to myself that I had to take what was left of my mind and get out of here.

The local government employees tried their best to get me off the streets and get me help for my emotional illness. I saw a psychiatrist, courtesy of the local government of Savannah. I like so many others did not get out of the homeless trap because I was afraid I would be put in a psychiatric hospital. I was also in a great deal of denial. I finally got help in another city.

Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published January – February 1996 Issue 13

Just a few facts to chew on:

(Compiled from the National Coalition on Homelessness and the Council on Economic Opportunities of Greater Cleveland)

* The top 20% of the population has as much after tax income as the bottom 80%
* After inflation, the average after tax income of the richest one percent of the population has increased 91% since 1977, those in the middle class has grown one percent while the low income have seen a 17% decrease.
* Income disparities are wider in the united States than in seventeen other industrialized countries.
* From 1980-1994, there was a 37% increase in minimum wage and a 205% increase in corporate profits.
* Those in poverty in 1992 were significantly poorer that those poor in 1979. 10.5% more poor persons had incomes at 50% of the poverty line in 1992 than in 1979.
* There were 273,907 poor residents in Cuyahoga County in 1994 with 1.69 million people below the poverty level in Ohio.
* The poverty rate in Cleveland is 42% with some neighborhoods as high as 80%.
* Cuyahoga County's employment growth rate has fallen to 85th among the 88 Ohio counties.
* Nationally, 25% of all private sector jobs created are temporary jobs.

Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published January – February 1996 Issue 13

Homeless Memorial Day 1995

     On December 21, Cleveland's 9th annual Homeless Candlelight Vigil was held at noon in front of Tower City. The vigil was held as a means of drawing attention to the problem of homelessness in Cleveland and throughout the country. It also served as a reminder of those who have died living on the streets. The bitter cold gave the non-homeless participants a small taste of what the homeless must endure day after day.
     There were approximately sixty people in attendance as a diversified group of speakers took the stage to speak out against homelessness. Among the speakers were state representative Jane Campbell, Grapevine vendor and former homeless person Angelo Anderson and the Reverend Marvin McMickle who questioned the priorities of a city that is paying an excessive amount of attention to the Browns and Indians while there are currently people with no home. The last speaker was poet and activist Julia Brown who delivered an impassioned plea to reach out to the less fortunate and to remember that the reason we're in a more fortunate position is because we've had someone who cared about us.

 At the dawn of each day
I roam, I search, but opportunity has no entrance
My trials, bellows, and tribulations
so who cares?
By noon I wait nothing emerges
by night I lie in the still of the cold caressing the earth for warmth
they see, and know
  Do they even remember?
even my contribution
to this so-called humane world
when I was - I did,
when I could, I accomplished
It doesn't even matter now
it only had meaning then
Why, do they not come
Rushing to the aid
of an unknown land
   While right here in your view
I need, not desire
Why the blinded eyes?
Overlooking political truth
of How the Land of Free think
How the Home of the Brave
How do I respond to this neglect
of necessity ?
Opportunity where are you ?
Hope for tomorrow - will you arrive ?
  Yesterdays all behind me
And today I seek
A place like you
To lie my head and rest peacefully ,
in warmth, and in shelter.
Yet, Homeless, I remain

Julia A. Brown

Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published January – February 1996 Issue 13

Homeless Deserve A New Home Before Browns

by Bob Boclear

Hello, everyone. First of all, I would like to say I hope you had a happy holiday season.
     Some people say the Homeless Grapevine is too negative, but what they fail to realize is that this paper is reality. We show how bad it is being homeless, how to help, and how good it is to help people out of poverty. For instance, Mayor White and others are fighting so hard to keep the Cleveland Browns in town, what's the problem with them fighting hard like that to help the homeless get back on their feet. I mean, he got the Sin tax extension passed and if they still move, what going to become of that money?
     I don't have anything against sports and I am a sports fan, but it just seems that all the effort that they are using to keep this football team, what about this same effort on helping the homeless. We need assistance finding jobs and housing. Mayor White needs to make the homeless a priority. I think that things would change with the mayor's help.
     Why not take all the abandon buildings in this city, and put some electricity in them and let the homeless take it from there. I mean, the homeless would have a place to work and also have a place to come to when they get off work instead of having to wander around until it's time to enter a shelter. They could buy food, eat whenever, watch a little TV, and on the weekends, or their days off, they could just stay home or whatever. You know what I mean?
     There are so many buildings that are abandoned. People don't realize how important it is to have shelter. The start to setting your life in order is just having a room to relax, and a place to lay your head. All my money is spent walking around trying to survive. Eventually with a room, people can move up to a stable job. A starting point for the city is to open up the abandoned buildings. A lot of the homeless have skills and they could fix them up. They just need the opportunity.
     Down the road, the tenants could pay for the occupancy or pay some portion of the electricity, for example electric $50-60 a month. At least this way the building would be used by the people, and people would be getting back into society.
     If everyone was working on the homeless situation productivity would increase, and we could make big changes. People lose hope when they have to walk around and it's 5 degrees outside and everyone ignores you. If you are able to find a shelter that is not full, they wake you up at 5 a.m. and kick you out on the street. Where are the homeless suppose to go at 5:30 in the morning? No one should have to sleep outside in 5 degree weather.
     If things don't change just to survive more criminal activity is going to happen. Homeless people aren't going to take it anymore. There is a lot of depression and anger out there. I see criminal activity increasing since the welfare [General Assistance] cuts.
     The punishment for crimes committed by poor people is also more severe than the upper class white collar criminals. They get a slap on the wrist. The poor get the maximum sentence allowed by law. I call it unfair justice.
     There are so many prominent figures that have done wrong and are treated lightly. I say money talks and poor people walk--right into prison.
     People ignore crimes committed against the homeless. The homeless panhandler that stabbed someone in the Flats was a big story in the news. Another incident in which a homeless man was killed in the Flats was not ever talked about. There was no big media story and no one cared when a homeless guy was killed.
     Well, as always I'm looking for work if you have something you would like done give me a call at 344-1580. Thank you very much and God bless you.

Editor's Note: Boclear's premonition of increased criminal activity to survive seems to be coming true. Over the holiday season, a homeless man was arrested for robbing over 30 houses of food and other necessities. He lived in the woods and would venture into people's houses at night and steal canned food and non-perishables. He was even known to have fixed himself a meal while in the victim's houses. He is being charged with following his natural instinct for survival.

Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published January – February 1996 Issue 13

Government Without A Heart

We want a Country without violence
But our government leaders
Who say they decry violence and hate
Are reeking violence against
the poor, elderly and disabled
of this land
By a stroke of their social service
and health care cut-off plans.
If our leaders have no comparison
If their hearts are shriveled dry
in their chest,
How can they lead the way to bring
Forth our citizens' best?
Cutting off help for the poor
and our old folks
Is Violence and hate
Throwing people out, like garbage,
To die on the streets
as their fate.
You Scapegoat the Poor
By slandering our names
Calling us criminal and insane
Building prisons and jail cells
To house us without bail
Is violence and hate-
You don't seem to care
We have no homes to begin with
that we're
living in a homeless hell;
You are blind in your ruling class
prejudiced myths.
Death to the Poor
Is Violence and Hate
And we will not tolerate the Poor
Suffering this fate.


Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published January – February 1996 Issue 13

Food Stamps Computer Fails

by Gretchen Graves
     In the month of September, 37,929 clients were serviced at the four food stamp centers scattered throughout Cincinnati. Of the 37,929 clients serviced, 35,219 received their benefits in the first 11 days of the month. The food stamp centers are open from about 7:15 a.m. until 4:15 p.m. each day Monday-Friday.
     In the month of October , however, systems failed at two of the four sites in Cincinnati area. The sites effected were Over-the-Rhine and Northside. Due to a computer glitch, these communities along with the residents were impacted tremendously. Many clients were forced to go without food or scurry to the other locations in Lockland and Walnut Hills.
     The system which first failed the last half of the day on Thursday., October 5 at about 1:00 p.m. was not up and running on the October 11 at about 2:00 p.m. This was a relief not only to the people residing in Northside, but to everyone receiving food stamps.
     During the downtime, which was caused locally in the database, centers which were open as usual were swamped with clients trying to get their stamps before the weekend. Not all of the clients were successful. More than a few were to go to social service agencies in their area. On at least one of those days, the Walnut Hills site serviced 6,666 clients in one day causing them to extend their day by a half hour.
According to an employee of the Walnut Hills location, this is the first time the system has been in a long time. But she did recall a time in February 1992 when the CRIS-E system failed throughout the entire state of Ohio.

Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published January – February 1996 Issue 13