Homeless Determine Funding Priorities in Service Sectors

by Brian Davis and Matt Hayes

At the past two forums, held in local meal sites and homeless shelters, the homeless persons in attendance set their own priorities for services in Cuyahoga County and the City of Cleveland. These priorities will be forwarded to local officials and federal agencies to influence the areas into which funding is directed.

The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless has, in the past year, started what is known as the Homeless Forum. These Homeless Forums, held once per month, offer an arena in which homeless men and women can express their dissatisfaction with local policies or propose possible solutions to problems they have. The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless facilitates these forums and assists the homeless population in implementing any ideas or solutions they offer.

At each Homeless Forum a brief introduction is given and a problem proposed for discussion or comment. This is the initial thrust of the forum, from there it grows like a tree grows or branches like a river branches. Any area of concern is relevant.

The following is a record of questions proposed for discussion and comment and the responses made by those in attendance.

If you were the County Commissioner, what would you do to change the lives of impoverished people?

Answers ranked as most important

  • I would take one percent out of all the entertainment money that goes on inside the county limits and contribute it to the impoverished! We as Americans spend a lot of money on entertainment of all kinds yet we have gotten away from giving to others because of the bad publicity that the “Homeless” have gotten.
  • Help more people get to the hospital and help people to find homes and jobs.
  • Renovate abandoned buildings for low income housing and make job training and jobs available for the homeless.
  • Find out why they are in their condition and address that problem.
  • Create jobs so we can work and create programs to help the poor.
  • Open a TB. clinic for the homeless.
  • Free housing and job training.
  • I would make sure everyone had a place to live.
  • Housing.
  • Refurbish abandoned buildings and homes that drug dealers used and make them livable for the homeless.
  • First, educate people. Make it a must like eating and sleeping. If it can possibly be done and I know it can with hard work and time I know it will be beautiful to see people of urban Cleveland with a spark in their eyes instead of bloodshot eyes.
  • More shelter space for women with children for more than two weeks.
  • A place for the homeless to live; food, laundry facilities, personal hygiene products, further education and job sights.
  • Programs for mothers raising children, infants to twelve years of age.
  • I would make more jobs available to the poor.
  • We need to raise minimum wages so people can live decent.
  • I would like to invest in the Cleveland Public School systems.
  • Make more money available for housing for the homeless people.
  • Jobs for welfare.

Answers ranked as second most important

  • It is a shame that we live in one of the richest countries in the world and can afford to give ATHLETES, ENTERTAINERS, POLITICIANS, etc. an extraordinary amount of money to entertain us, but can’t find it in our hearts to help the less fortunate.
  • Get homeless people and kids on ADC better help.
  • Get people rehabilitation.
  • Raise the tax some so the poor can have a place to stay.
  • More free clinics for the homeless with help for prescriptions for those without medical.
  • Create more jobs.
  • Improve income (increase minimum wage) and employment benefits.
  • Everyone who wanted to work could have a job.
  • Jobs.
  • Find jobs for all the homeless men and women.
  • Get into the conversation of what weakens the black community . . . which is drugs.
  • A day care in all the shelters so people can go and look for a place to live or nice jobs so we can pay our rent every single month.
  • Medicare, childcare, eye examinations complete with decent frames.
  • More shelter care plus.
  • I would help the poor get homes that are in good shape, but not all that expensive.
  • Affordable housing is very important. People on welfare just can’t afford the housing. Say its $400 rent and your receiving $493. What in the hell do you do? Plus you have 4 children. How do you manage?
  • I would donate some money to health care, i.e. dental and eye.
  • Give some money for Cleveland Schools for our children.
  • Shelter plus program.

Answers ranked as third most important

  • Use abandoned sites for drop-in centers and shelters.
  • A place to live like St. Herman’s (while looking for a new place).
  • More funds for housing, education, and medical services for the elderly.
  • Free medical care for the homeless.
  • Voice (voting).
  • I would provide daycare for children so people can work.
  • I would like to see more jobs for the homeless.
  • Programs for third and fourth degree felons before and after incarcerations.
  • I would help the poor kids get an education by building good schools throughout the city.
  • I would start programs to keep all the youths off the streets at night so they wouldn’t be interested in gangs, drugs, and violence.
  • Make more and better treatment centers for people trying to get off of drugs. Hunger centers for people who have no food.
  • Medicare program.

Answers ranked as fourth most important

  • Shoes and help getting clothing, rehabilitation, ongoing counseling, etc.
  • Improve education.
  • I would have an outreach program for the homeless.
  • Help people get jobs so they could take care of themselves and have more money for college funds and utilities.
  • More health care for the homeless (Dentist for crowns and braces; complete physicals).
  • More good jobs for people with no income. Medicaid for people with no income.
  • Drug treatment program.

Answers ranked as fifth most important

  • Cleveland Schools, school playgrounds.
  • I would build special places for homeless people to go to be encouraged to find housing and jobs.
  • More inpatient drug and alcohol programs.

Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published June 1996-July 1996 Issue 16