The Homeless Stand Down, 1998

On August 21, more than 700 of Cleveland’s homeless and at-risk men, women, and children convened at the metropolitan campus of Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) for NEOCH’s 5th annual “Homeless Stand Down.” The day of meals, respite, and access to services that may assist in breaking the cycle of homelessness was orchestrated by NEOCH staff and volunteers. Project Director Angelo Anderson reports that “Stand Down” is a military term that refers to soldiers taking care of other soldiers in a safe, secure place. According to Anderson, that is what the event is all about: “each of us taking care of one another in an effort to encourage hope, vision, and health.”

The day started early, with breakfast provided by the Salvation Army. NEOCH’s guests were able to take showers and get a change of clothing before participating in the rest of the day’s activities. Students from Lake Erie Barber College gave haircuts, while representatives from several Cleveland area service providers offered workshops on job training, education, housing, healthcare, welfare reform, and related concerns. Direct medical services by doctors and nurses from the Cleveland Clinic, St. Vincent Charity Hospital, and the Greater Cleveland Volunteer Nurses, and vision screening by Prevent Blindness Ohio were set up in the campus Student Center, while some participants received dental screening at the MetroHealth Dental Van, and pregnant women and children under one year of age obtained healthcare at Healthy Family/Healthy Start’s MomMobile parked on East 30th St.

The Tri-C courtyard was the stage for more festive activity. While some participants collected information from representatives of service-providing agencies, others rested or chatted under the trees or danced to the music played by disc jockey Jack from Loony Tunes, children played games or made craft projects, and everyone enjoyed the copious hot lunch produced by St. Augustine’s Center.

As the day wound to a close, participants collected donated clothing and toiletries to take away with them. The Bishop Cosgrove Center provided light suppers for the departing guests, as well.

The “Homeless Stand Down,” could not have occurred without the generosity of the people of Cleveland who donated clothing, toiletries, and services for the event. Anderson also stressed the important contribution made by the volunteers, concerned individuals as well as groups from area churches, colleges, businesses, and agencies that helped with the distribution of goods and services, and he extends NEOCH’s heartfelt thanks to all of them.

As informal survey of this year’s participants rated the Stand Down on the whole as “good” or “great,” though several people wished that Mayor White had been present. NEOCH’s Executive Director, Brian Davis, stated that while he wished that the workshops had been better attended, he considered the day to he a huge success.

The Coalition intends to stage a smaller Stand Down in October to help with winter clothing and health preparation for the winter.

Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine, Issue 29, September-October 1998

Street Newspaper Movement Begins to Unify

by Brian Davis

Street newspapers from all across North America gathered in Montreal to plan for expansion in 1999 and discuss areas of mutual interest. In the past, the North American Street Newspaper Association conferences have been very divisive, with contentious debates between big papers and small papers and more commercial papers lining up against grassroots empowerment-oriented papers. The third NASNA conference in 1998 was more businesslike, with a focus on “ways to work together.”

Donald Whitehead, Editor of Street Vibes in Cincinnati, said, “The third try by NASNA proved to be the best.” Personally, I had concerns about my continued involvement in NASNA due to last year’s conference. My faith has been restored. The Montreal conference made me truly believe that the goals set at the first conference will soon be realized.

The major goals for the coming year include the creation of a homeless news service that will feature the exchange of stories from all the member papers of NASNA. Also, a high priority for NASNA is to develop a strong web site and listserv for its members. The group also intends to raise funds for a staff to foster and expand the street newspaper movement. “We got all good feedback,” said Michael Stoops of the National Coalition for the Homeless, who is also treasurer for NASNA. He went on to say, “This conference will strengthen NASNA because of the agenda that was passed. It will be a good coming year for the street newspaper movement in the United States and Canada.”

The conference started with a two-hour debate on the future of the street newspaper movement which was intended to bring to the forefront the heart of the debate that caused such dissension in last year’s conference and throughout last year. There were many visions expressed from the loose collaboration of papers that operate independently and feature a broad spectrum of newspapers to the view that the movement should be based on an ideology that is created by poor people that unites and empowers homeless people across North America.

The issue that crystallized this debate was the move by the Big Issue of London, England into Los Angeles. This was representative of the debate within the entire movement—a big, commercially successful paper (the Big Issue) moves into an area that has a small, struggling, homeless-driven paper. The editor of the smaller paper, Making Change, Jenaffer Waggoner, was adamant that if NASNA allowed the Big Issue into Los Angeles then it would grow and push other papers out of existence.

In a surprising development, the Big Issue editors decided not to pursue membership in NASNA until 1999 to give all parties a chance to work out some compromise and quiet the fears of Making Change and other papers. This allowed the members of NASNA to focus on other issues in Montreal. The 1999 conference will be held in Cleveland.

Stoops said, “The debate at the conference was helpful and helped clarify what NASNA is all about. The host of the 1998 conference, Eric Cimon of Journal L’Itineraire, a French language paper in Montreal, was satisfied with what came out of the conference. “We are looking toward the future. We are more united than before, and we have better communication,” Cimon said. Cimon was impressed by the large amount of media attention over the conference, which he said, “Put homelessness more on the table.”

Some of the activities that Cimon is going to be working on over the next year are the establishment of two new papers in Quebec province, and he wants every newspaper plugged into the internet. Journal L’Itineraire has what Stoops characterizes as a “remarkable” café for homeless people that has computers available for use by those on the streets.

Angelo Anderson of The Homeless Grapevine was once again elected to the NASNA Executive Committee. He thought the conference was very helpful, but felt that the group needed better workshops next year. Anderson wants to help NASNA member papers work together over the next year.

Whitehead said, “I was really impressed with Montreal. It was almost a color-blind society. I just felt really comfortable with all the ethnic backgrounds that existed together.” He also noted that poverty did not seem to be as harsh or extreme as in the States.

Stoops is looking to assist with the development of some new papers and to formalize some technical assistance to existing papers and start up assistance to new papers. He looks forward to coming to Cleveland in 1999.

NASNA Priorities for 1998-9

  1. Better Electronic Interaction
  • · Homeless news service/listserv
  • · Web site construction and update
  • · Pamphlet on what NASNA is, including history and mission
  • · Newsletter for NASNA
  • · Articles about NASNA placed in member newspapers
  • · Construct some protection for existing street newspapers
  • · Set up a policy for the free exchange of articles
  • · Construct a set-up kit for new newspapers
  • · Outreach to involve Mexican street newspapers
  • · Provide technical assistance outreach to papers that may need help
  • · Construct a publication of standards and practices for NASNA
  • · Provide information on commercialization aspects of the street newspaper movement
  • · Increase funds to increase the number of papers
  • · Increase funds to hire staff and an intern
  • · Construct a donation network of computers and software to assist papers that need it
  1. Member Development
  1. Fundraising Committee

Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine, Issue 29, September-October 1998

Living Wage Campaign to Decrease Poverty

Special Guest Commentary by “Cleveland Jobs and Living Wage Campaign”

A hard day’s work deserves an honest day’s pay. Hardworking people should be able to support themselves and their families by their hard work. The city of Cleveland, as well as employers who receive financial assistance from the city, should pay their employees a “living wage.” These are the basic ideas behind the Living Wage Campaign.

Although Cleveland is among the cities with a high cost of living, Cleveland’s minimum wage is $5.15 an hour, the same as the federal minimum wage. At that wage, a full-time worker working year round, 2080 hours, would earn only $10,700. As of May 1998, the poverty line for a family of four is $16, 450. A full-time worker would have to make $7.91 an hour just to meet this poverty line. And we all know that just meeting the poverty line means misery.

Jus think about what it costs to live. What does rent for a family cost? And food? And clothing? Transportation? Day care? What if someone gets sick; what does that cost? Don’t people who work deserve to be able to support themselves by their labor?

The purpose of the Cleveland Job and Living Wage Campaign is to make sure that workers whose wages are paid with our tax money make enough money to live above the poverty line. The Living Wage would require the city and those companies that benefit from our taxes to pay their employees no less than 110% of the poverty level for a family of four, almost $9.00 an hour. In addition, the law would require employer-paid family health care for those workers, and a guarantee of the right to organize a union if they choose to do so. This Living Wage would still be a low income, but at least it would ensure a family of four enough money to cover the basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, day care, transportation, and medical care.

This new law would help the economy of our neighborhoods. A two-year study in Baltimore, where a Living Wage has been adopted, found that the cost of city contracts decreased, while business investments increased. Not one company with a city contract reported a reduction in their number of employees.

When employees receive a healthier salary, taxpayers pay less money for social services, since less money is needed for public supports, such as welfare, food stamps, heat assistance, subsidized health care, etc. Business owners would be helped by having more stable workers, since they won’t be leaving for higher-paying jobs. Small, neighborhood-based businesses would find that with more money circulating, they would have more customers.

The Cleveland Jobs and Living Wage Campaign is a movement of clergy, church members, union members, community organizations, and citizens of the Cleveland area who believe all human beings have the right to dignified treatment. Low-wage workers deserve the same respectful treatment as anyone else.

Nothing less than the living wage should be paid by employers who are recipients of city financial assistance themselves. Whether they be engaged in manufacturing or some other line of business, the city surely does not wish to foster an economic climate where a lesser wage is all that is offered to the working poor.

We believe that a living wage for all working people, health-care protection, and care for our children are rights as fundamental as the right to be safe and secure in our own homes.

The Living Wage legislation has been adopted in 11 cities across the country, including Los Angeles, CA; Baltimore, MD; Minneapolis, MN; St. Paul, MN; Portland, OR; Milwaukee, WI; and New York City, NY. The Cleveland Jobs and Living Wage Campaign is lobbying for legislation like that in Minneapolis, which requires any company receiving city funding to pay their employees 10% above the poverty line.

We have launched a campaign to win a change in the laws in Cleveland, to create a Living Wage here. We need everyone’s help. To find out what you can do, please call us at 440-333-6363. We will send you more information and ideas for activities. We invite everyone who believes in the Living Wage to join us as we march together in the Labor Day Parade in Garfield Heights on the morning of Saturday, September 5. For more information, please call 440-333-6363

Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine, Issue 29, September-October 1998

Does Welfare Reform Hurt the Children? Does Anyone Care?

Editorial

By Brian Davis

              Let me first clear up a few misconceptions about welfare.  First, welfare reform has nothing to do with men since cash assistance ended for men years ago.  It has nothing to do with able-bodied adults without children.  It certainly does not solve the problem of people who cheat the system.  It has nothing to do with free loaders, and it is not about self re-liance.

             Then what exactly is the purpose of welfare reform?  I contend that welfare reform was a quick method to reign in the federal and state budgets, and I can prove it. If welfare reform was about making people work for their benefit checks, then there should be a job that pays a livable wage available to those coming off the system.

             This significant increase in the number of people entering the workforce would drive up wages, drive down profits and the stock market, and there would be general chaos in the financial systems.  This would be absolutely unacceptable to the welfare reform crusaders.

             So what we got was a budget cut that will actually drives down wages.  It is an opportunity to have future assurance that the Federal budget does not spiral out of control.

             There is no longer an entitlement to cash assistance and therefore each state has the opportunity to control the welfare caseload.  When there is a downturn in the economy, the states will not have the opportunity to seek unlimited funds from the federal government to satisfy the end.  This is the type of budgetary control that Republican administrations have dreamed of for fifty years.  Only a Democrat, who grew up without a father, who paints himself as a man of compassion, but who would do anything to remain in power could have passed welfare reform.

             We cry about the changes in the welfare system, and protest the unnecessary harm that it has imposed on our friend’s children.  But what do we want?  What would real welfare reform look like?

            There are many obstacles that we have to overcome as a society that handicap any effort to reform welfare.  The most critical is that a full time job does not pay a livable wage.  How many families have dissolved because a man without any skills cannot find a job that pays enough to support one person let alone three people?  We, as a society, have forgotten the concept that quality universal health care is a right that needs to be extended to every person no matter their ability to pay.  Finally, we have a pathetic system of educating our children both in the classroom and at home.  We now have an education system that is both separate and unequal with poor kids offered babysitting and rich kids receiving opportunities because welfare reform was going to happen no matter what the cost to our society, our task was to come up with a system that was based on the current reality, but did not harm the children.  After all, the reason Aid to Dependent Children hunger and homelessness among our youngest citizens.

             There was one national debate that needed to take place before we entered in the welfare reform waters, and that was, is our society going to punish or nurture families that only had one parent?  While we may not like it, single parent households exist.  It would have been a lot easier to just come right out and say, “Women without a spouse have no business being parents.  They are doing harm to their children, and should be punished for life for the one night of indiscretion or the mistake that led to a child.

             It would be a lot more honest to just outright condemn and criminalize this lifestyle.  Instead we set up a covert attack on single mothers.  Just think how refreshing it would be to hear the overt hatred from the authors of welfare reform.  We would hear things like, “Any baby conceived out of wedlock will become the ward of the state.”  We could remove children from the household to prevent child abuse, poor upbringing or the possibility of creating future welfare recipients.  Then stick these kids in camps to be educated by the state to be further cheap labor making fat free chilidogs.  Hell, we could then force women who conceive a child without a spouse to walk around with a big letter "A".

             So we set up this huge bureaucracy that basically has the same outcome, but it just takes a lot longer.  A slow painful three to five year bloodletting is not more civilized than a one day cut off from the system, and it does not attract the media attention.

 We must set up a system that nurtures children and protects them from homelessness and hunger.

             We should have nurses, social workers, teachers and others in the community visiting at-risk households to make sure that the children are progressing properly, Public sector jobs that pay a livable wage should be established for those who do want to enter the work force.  Cash assistance should be increased to provide a higher level to support to mother’s who choose to stay home.

             While a family makes a low wage they should be allowed to maintain benefits including child care, cash assistance, and Medicaid for a long as it takes to make their family self sufficient.  There also needs to be a reevaluation of how much money it takes to raise a family.  Finally, we need to assure that all families with children are engaged in the system, and no families have to live on the streets.  The welfare system must be in the neighborhoods to protect families from hunger and homelessness.  The welfare caseworker should be assigned to a neighborhood to get to know every family in that area.

             At the end of the day, will our children be better prepared for self reliance?  Will our children of the welfare reform generation be better citizens with more education and more independence?  Will our kids be able to maintain our democracy or will we let more of our rights slip away?  We never had these discussions when welfare reform was passed.  We rushed forward with this plan to force people to work for their benefits, and we will lament the lack of forethought with regard to reforming the welfare system.

  Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published 1998 Issue 29          

Critical Losses Expected in Affordable Housing

By Alex Grabtree

           Cleveland Ward 5 Councilman Frank Jackson and the Cleveland Tenants Organization gathered an overflow crown of approximately 500 people to a Town Hall meeting on August 29 about subsidized housing at Cuyahoga Community College Metro Campus.

            Four Council Members including Jackson, Merle Gordon (Ward 15), Michael Polensek (Ward 11), and Joe Cimperman (Ward 13) as well as Marty Gelfand from Congressman Kucinich’s office heard testimony from 45 individuals and groups about the state of subsidized housing in Cleveland.  Recommendations were made by those in attendance that will be compiled and forwarded to the full City Council as well as state and federal officials. 

             The town hall meeting was called because of the immediate threat of 1,800 units in Cleveland that are slated for foreclosure.  The Department of Housing and Urban Development is expected to take action against property owners in Longwood, Rainbow Terrace, Park Village and Carter Manor Project Based Section 8 properties.  The plan calls for all 1,800 tenants to be offered a voucher to find a new place to move, and the subsidies for the properties to be removed.  In all likelihood, HUD would take possession of the properties and would be demolished or sold on the open market.

             In the past (Grapevine 25, 26), tenants have been given cash assistance for moving and assistance with finding a place.  According to sources at HUD, there is not guarantee that this kind of assistance will be available this year.  Councilman Jackson said that there is no place available for these tenants to use their voucher.  He said the HUD plan would create “ghettos, slums and homelessness.”

             Jackson said that while the immediate purpose of the meeting was to call attention and to protect the 1,800 Project Based units, this was just the beginning.  Jackson said that if these properties are allowed to be taken out of the inventory no properties are safe including the public housing Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority Properties.

             Testimony ranged from elderly individuals who did not want to be uprooted to homeless women who could not get into subsidized housing to disabled residents who were confronted with a myriad of barriers.  What was common to most was a sense of fear over the future of affordable housing in Cleveland across the country.

             Ms. Bell, a tenant at Riverview, faulted HUD for “not being a good watchdog.”  She demanded better oversight especially of the construction contracts at CMHA.  A resident of Willson Towers wanted a re-examination of the self-sufficiency program.  He asked for a “gradual increase in rent when someone finds employment.”

             Ms. Panzier at Longwood wanted to save some input in the management of properties.  She was especially concerned that the redevelopment downtown is the reason that low-income tenants are being pushed aside.  She asked, “Where do we go if we decide that we don’t want to use the vouchers?”

             There was much discussion about the lack of security including a call by a tenant lender in Rainbow Terrace to mandate 24 hour a day security at handicapped and senior citizen buildings.  She received loud applause from the audience.

             There were calls for a one-year notification before a HUD subsidy can be withdrawn.  Another tenant called for a return to 20-year contracts for subsidized properties instead of the current one-year renewals.

            There was also much discussion about the importance of voting and remaining vigilant.  Ms. Brown from Rainbow Terrace urged those gathered to unify and elect leaders who can forward an agenda that will protect affordable housing.  A number of tenants wanted to see more young people involved in the struggle.

             Mr. McDaniel wondered what had happened to all the money that wondered what happened to all the money that went into some of these projects specifically Cater Manor to do renovations, He emphatically stated, “We will not be put out on the street!”

             Ms. Marshall, a homeless woman, spoke about the difficulty in getting into subsidized housing for hose who are single or who have a criminal background.  A number of other people brought up the poor waiting list kept by CMHA, and asks for re-examination of the preferences.

             A few speakers called for extreme positions of shutting HUD and SMHA or having all tenants place their rent in escrow to shut down the system until the questions about the future viability of some of these projects is settled.

             Our speaker asked why tenants were now made to suffer the hardship of having to move just because HUD had not been vigilant in maintaining quality housing.  Councilwoman woman Gordon summed the day up by saying that residents of Cleveland are entitled to, “safe, sanitary and decent housing.”

             Mike Foley, Assistant Director of Cleveland Tenants Organization, said that the next step was compiling the testimony and putting it in a form that can be used to do some advocacy.  “We are putting the platform together and use it to communicate to HUD and federal officials tenant’s desires about current and future housing policies and put pressure on them to implement these recommendations.

             In a related matter, a group of government officials from the City, County, and the local Congressional delegation along with social service providers and local developers have studied this program of the increasing numbers of units withdrawn from the inventory because of HUD enforcement’s and foreclosures.  This group called the Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance are preparing a resolution that demands no further decrease in the inventory of subsidized housing.  They are asking that alternatives be found when a project is facing an enforcement action because of sub-standard conditions.

             Therefore, be it resolved that the members of the Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance strongly urge and recommend that, for Section 8 project based properties in foreclosure or under enforcement action, the HUD Cleveland office and the national HUD office should make every effort to preserve and maintain the properties including where appropriate the transfer of physical assets.  If it is absolutely unfeasible to maintain any such property as a Section 8 project based, then the project based units should be replaced by an equal number of project based units.  It is imperative that there be no net decrease in the actual number of Section 8 project based units in this community.  Also, HUD should use the full force of the government to take local action against landlords who have prematurely allowed their property to fall below housing quality standards.  We cannot tolerate any decrease in the stock of local affordable housing.

 Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine, Issue 29 September – October1998

Charlie “Boogie” Akers Enjoyed a Rough Life

By Brian Davis

             There are groups of people in our society who always seem to be in the way.  Those people who find solace in a bottle.  Society calls them “drunks” and “bums.”  They are arrested by the police on a regular basis, and swept away.  Pedestrians see them sleeping in a doorway and forget about them as long as they pass.  But in a memorial service for Charles “Boogie” Akers those who remembered Charlie repeatedly mentioned “God’s way”, and this is “what God wanted for Boogie.”  As Ron Reinhart, Director of Salvation Army’s PASS program said, “As a provider, even being an alcoholic myself, what we may think is best for someone, like sobriety, may not be what God meant for this person.”

             There was a great mythology associated with Charles Akers.  Some said that he was a college graduate who lost everything.  Others claimed he was a former well-paid business executive who had lost everything.  In reality what was known about Charles was that he had a great sense of humor, and was a kind and feisty individual.  He loved to dance and he loved Hank Williams.  He would go to dances and ask everyone to dance until he found someone who was willing.

             Akers was born in 1933.  He was educated through the sixth grade.  He used to say the only thing that kept him out of high school was 8th grade.  He was just learning to read in the past few years.  He loved to sing, and he was fond of Mad Dog 20/20 alcohol because of its cheap rice and intoxicating effect.  He did have a mental illness, and had received funds from his father’s railroad pension fund.  He had interactions with the Cleveland Police over 400 times in the last 30 years: most were called that involved Charlie’s public drunkenness.

             He was struck by a drunk driver on Saturday August 22 and died early on Sunday morning.  Police records indicate that the driver was charged with vehicular homicide for striking and killing Charlie near W.52nd and Lorain.

             In 1997 and `998, he had some cusses in his lifelong battle with alcoholism.  He had obtained 43 consecutive days of sobriety while in the PASS program.  Reinhart believes that given the opportunity and the time, he “absolutely” would have made progress with his drinking problem.  “The only way to reach him was through patience and tolerance.” Reinhart said.

             “He was alike a kid in a toy store when he was sober,” according to Reinhart.  There were many new experiences that he discovered at PASS, included going to Bob Evans Restaurant.  He found the joy of sitting down at a meal and being served.  He also was so proud to be able to buy things, even food for people with his own money.  Reinhart said, “We were fortunate to be a part of that.  He went to Bob Evans regularly while sober.” 

             David Simmons, a friend of Charlie and service provider, described how proud Charlie was of his clean suit that he got while at PASS.  He would show off his clean clothing and his lifestyle.

             This is a life foreign to most people, but he lived on the streets for thirty years from one bottle to the next.  He reportedly said, “Live life to the fullest, because no one else is going to live it for you.”  In fact, he got his nickname from a song that he used sing about boogying all night while the ladies.  He would pan handle or scrape together money to buy alcohol to cover up some childhood trauma or abuse, and then sleep it off.  He left no family or history that can be verified.  His parents did buy him a cemetery plot years ago, which local homeless service providers were able to find in Akron where he was buried. 

             The Cleveland Fire Department who had to come to his assistance on many occasions came to pay their respects.  Members of the Second District Police unit also visited Charlie’s memorial.  Homeless service providers from both the East and West Side who had helped Charlie and had been touched by Charlie came together for his memorial service on August28 on the near West Side.

             His friends from the streets were well represented.  His drinking buddies remembered him.  One gentleman said that he was going to drink a bottle of Mad Dog for Charlie, and then he was never going to drink that kind of alcohol again because it made him sick.  Another man said that no one again would pan handle on the corner of W. 40th and Lorain because  “that was Charlie’s corner.”  Another man lamented because he had brought Charlie a bottle some time in the past.

             Eric Wolf, a hard core homeless man who never came in for services, said before he was homeless when he first got to Cleveland he met Boogie.  He said that he allowed Charlie to baby-sit for his kid.  Hen Eric got home, “the id came running out to say that Charlie was going to sell him for a bottle of Wine.  E was a hell of Goodman.”  Charlie wasn’t much of a babysitter.

             Mark Budzer, Outreach Director of Volunteers of America said, “He was one of funniest people you could know.  He was a good guy.  Like a member of the family.”  Budzar said you could look past his faults and take care of him when he was in need.  Budzar will miss Charlie saying, “My name is Jimmy.  I’ll take whatever you five me.”  (Boogie’s rap that he used while pan handling.)

             Reinhart said, “He didn’t lie about who he was.  He knows who he was and what he wanted.”  Simmons said, “He kept getting back up.  He is a testament to man’s ability to pick themselves up and continue.”

             Simmons, a recovering alcoholic, said he met Charlie in the drunk tank at the Justice Center.  “He was so annoying, He was singing and telling jokes, and you just wanted to kill him” David grew to enjoy Charlie, and tried to help him when he could.  “He was a rare individual, a truly honest human being.  The only people who could communicate with him was those he was drinking with,” David said.

             The death of Charlie fraught with irony.  He was struck by a drunk driver while he had spent his life drinking and staggering along the Cleveland streets.  He had never stepped out in traffic in all those years of drinking.  His service was held across from where he spent many years pan handling.  In fact, he was known to cause some disruption for the funeral home in the past because of his irreverent behavior.

             For social workers, Charlie is the person that they wake up nights in a cold sweat worrying about.  Service providers extend every effort to get an individual to a point of self -reliance as dictated by societal norms.  There was a great deal of anguish by many providers over Charlie Akers, but Charlie survived and work up every day.  He never gave up the struggle.

             As Reinhart said, “He opened my eyes to not try to run things in neat squares when you are working with human beings.  He changed my outlook on how to deal with people.”  Budzar said he agreed with the sentiment expressed at the Memorial Service that,”Charlie taught us how to take of each other.”

 Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published 1998 Issue 29