By Brian Davis
Grapevine Managing Editor Angelo Anderson has accepted a position with the Salvation Army 2100 Lakeside Place shelter, as Director of the Emergency shelter. Anderson will supervise staff and care for the 300 homeless people who seek shelter on a daily basis. This is the largest shelter facility ever seen in Cleveland, and after completion of phase II it will house over four hundred people every night. The facility opened 24 hours a day in late February, and has a medical clinic and regular visits by social workers.
The shelter opened in early February and public celebration of the opening was February 17. At the urging of the County Commission, workers worked nearly around the clock to have the facility ready. In early December, the Commission had an emergency meeting to sign the contract for the new shelter, which was a shell of a warehouse. In a little over two months the construction crew had transformed the building into a well-lit, pleasant, welcoming facility.
After only two weeks earlier standing on the steps of First United Methodist Church saying that some homeless people should be arrested, Mayor Michael White bottled up his anger toward those on the streets and attended the event. There were only a few homeless people present to witness the Mayor’s speech. One interesting note was that on February 2 at the White press conference at First Church, the Mayor used Lynn Key as the example of the bad people on the street who deserve to be arrested. Key was volunteering for the Salvation Army, helping to prepare the facility on the day the Mayor came to the building for the official opening ceremony. The Mayor and Key did not cross paths.
The County Commissioners all were present to marvel at the transformation of the building. Ron Reinhart, director of the Salvation Army PASS program, who saw this project to completion, was not able to attend the event. The staff and Board of the Salvation Army were all praised by the elected officials who attended the event for the wonderful facility. The staff of 2100 Lakeside are almost all homeless or formerly homeless individuals. Reaction from guests of the shelter has been overwhelmingly positive. One guest said, “They are running a good ship.”
The facility was originally designed to replace the two overflow shelters, which housed 200 men a night. By the first week, the new shelter had 240 people. And in recent weeks 330 people per night have used the facility. Anderson scrambled, and with the help of County Administrator Tom Hayes, was able to secure 100 cots for the men. No longer in the City of Cleveland are men forced to sleep on the floor.
Anderson said, “[Running the shelter] is more of a challenge than I thought. I am dealing with more intoxicated people and drug problems that I anticipated. We have way more people than the program was designed for.” On a cold Saturday night in early March, the facility took in 365 men.
Anderson was encouraged because they recently began life skills and treatment classes. He is awaiting the opening of a kitchen to provide lunches to those who participate during the day. “The biggest challenge is convincing people that it takes time for people to change their life,” Anderson said. He said that his biggest victory was removing the drug dealers from the building. He is also proud that six people have already graduated the program into more stable living arrangements.
The other replacement shelter for men opened on February 14. The deplorable shelter in the basement of the Welfare Building operated by Cornerstone Connection closed, and Mental Health Services opened a 50-bed facility for men on the corner of Payne and E. 17th. This facility is reserved for homeless men with a mental illness and completes a continuum of care for homeless people suffering with a mental disability. Mental Health Services now has an outreach team, a drop-in center, an emergency shelter, a representative payee system, and longer-term safe haven for those with a mental health illness. They can build a trusting relationship with an individual and assist them into stable permanent living arrangements without transferring an individual to other agencies.
The women and children who reside at First United Methodist Church operated by Cornerstone Connection are still sleeping on the floor. Many have gone over to 2100 Lakeside Place to look at the accommodations for homeless men. At a public meeting at the Bishop Cosgrove Center, Beatrice and a number of other women asked, “Why is the County or City not improving the shelter for women?”
Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine Issue #41, March-April 2000