The Homeless Leadership Union developed the highest priority gaps in the community and presented those to Councilman Frank Jackson. They are now working on looking at couple of specific programs that the City might be able to assist in developing.
We need a seven day a week drop in center that operates 24 hours per day for men
Solution: Open the current overflow shelter to another provider, and see if they can build a better system.
There needs to better information about the services that are available in the community.
Solution: NEOCH is developing a central referral center storefront that will have a centralized information center.
There needs to be more food sites available to homeless people.
Solution: Engage the Hunger Network and others to coordinate services.
There is a lack of treatment available in the community. Also there is a lack of options available after the completion of treatment.
Solution: The Alcohol and Drug Board needs to get back into the housing business.
There is a lack of coordination and oversight of all the homeless social services.
Solution: There needs to better government oversight of funds locally.
We need to develop a clear path off of the streets, especially for men.
Solution: Use the model developed by the PASS program to expand those services and services that support a complete Continuum of Care.
There is a lack of oversight of the payee system.
Solution: Engage the Mental Health Community to provide better services.
There is a severe lack of affordable housing especially for people receiving checks.
Solution: Housing needs to be a right in our community. We should acquire some of the abandoned buildings in the community to use for homeless people or service providers.
There is a lack of decent paying jobs in Downtown Cleveland.
Solution: Assist in the formation of a not-for-profit temporary service.
There is a lack of medical care for homeless people.
Solution: There needs to be an expansion of clinics with doctors open to homeless people.
Identification is difficult for homeless people to acquire.
Solution: Assign a contact at Vital Statistics to interact with homeless people and providers who can help secure identification, especially from other cities.
It is difficult for homeless people with a handicap to find shelter.
Solution: We should have a committed effort to improve the shelters to accommodate handicapped people, and also develop a hospice care center for homeless people.
Agency staff are not passing the donations onto homeless people.
Solution: We have developed a pledge form for providers to sign.
The Union also looked at specific ways to improve the overflow shelter system. They have made some suggestions for what are the basic services that are needed to improve the overflow shelters:
1. They need to be open for people who work second and third shift.
2. They must have a place for people to store bags and other valuables.
3. They must have shower facilities that are accessible when the drop in centers are not open.
4. They must have cots for people to sleep on. The linen needs to be cleaned every night.
5. There needs to be special accomodations for people who get put out of the shelter so that they do not have to sleep on the street.
6. They must have a grievance procedure.
7. They should try to hire homeless people to work in the shelter.
8. There should be telephones available for use or at least pay phones.
9. They should have other social service organizations visit the shelter on a regular schedule, including a doctor.
10. They should have a washer and dryer available for use.
Copyright for the Homeless Grapevine Issue 34 April-May 1999