The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff has been working since fall, 1998 to initiate Cleveland’s Community Voice Mail (CVM) by 2000. To date, CVM has received funding from Abington Foundation, George Gund Foundation, Murphy Family Foundation and Thomas H. White Foundation. These grants total $85,000 that will compensate for year one of the program. In October, 1999, The Cleveland Foundation generously donated funds totaling $22,000 to secure year two of the Community Voice Mail program.
Since April, NEOCH has been struggling to secure office space for the program. Issues of NIMBYism (Not in My Back Yard) and affordability have kept the staff from moving quickly into a secure and permanent location. NEOCH’s Board of Trustees is pushing the search forward in hopes of housing the program by the end of this month.
Direct service agencies such as Salvation Army, Mental Health Services and Lakewood Christian Services have already established a partnership with NEOCH so that their clients can have access to the mailboxes. Once the program is functioning, clients of these and other direct service agencies will have access to a personal and confidential voice mailbox. This box will be used exclusively by the client so that potential employers and landlords as well as case workers and doctors have a way to contact the client without having to rely on an agency to take messages.
In the past ten years, CVM has been replicated in 27 other cities, including Seattle, Houston, New York, and most recently Toledo. The success in these cities proves that Cleveland’s population of people who are homeless is a perfect candidate for CVM. The staff anticipates that once CVM is installed, Cleveland will celebrate similar success.
If you have any questions about CVM or have a way to help support voice mail in Cleveland, contact Program Director Staci Santa at 216-241-1104.
Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine, Issue #38, October-November 1999