LOCAL NEWS BRIEFS:

WOMEN WILL NO LONGER SLEEP ON THE FLOOR

             The County intends to replace the existing overflow shelter for women in Cleveland currently operated by Cornerstone Connection in affiliation with First United Methodist Church.  The Homeless Grapevine has run stories critical of the current overflow shelter, and the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless has lobbied for a new facility for years.  The overflow shelter is open from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. and is located in the basement of the church.  Women sleep on mats that are cleaned on an infrequent basis and can pull a blanket from a pile of community blankets.

             Three social service providers have submitted requests to replace the overflow shelters with an emergency shelter that meet the state regulations for shelters.  Murtis Taylor, Catholic Charities, and Cornerstone Connections have all submitted proposals.

NEOCH is attempting to assure that homeless are involved in the selection of a new provider.

 THE REST OF THE STORY

             The City of Cleveland sued Associated Estates Corporation of Cleveland over a large number of housing code violations.  After years of legal maneuvering, AEC, one of Cleveland’s largest landlords, agreed to settle the suit.  They agreed to make the repairs and pay $100.00 in punitive damages to a local non-profit to settle the suit.

             The City Community Development office identified the Cleveland Tenants Organization as the logical recipient of the funds.  CTO fights for the rights of tenants and organizes tenants so that they are not exploited by landlords.  Mayor Michael White stepped in and wanted the money to go to St. Herman’s House of Hospitality emergency shelter.  Reports indicated White had heard that the shelters needs major renovation.  The local Office of Homeless Services had never indicated renovation of St. Herman’s as propriety in the community.

             Again, The Homeless Grapevine has featured articles about St. Herman’s shelter.  NEOCH was critical of proselytizing that takes place at the shelter.  Currently, St. Herman’s is a private shelter that does not receive public money, and therefore is not under City or County oversight.  NEOCH wrote a letter in opposition to the settlement going to St. Herman’s.

             In late May, Judge Raymond Pianka stepped in, and asked for an alternative to St. Herman’s receiving the funds.  First Step Alliance, a furniture bank for newly housed individuals, Golden Age Centers for senior citizens, the Alliance of Cleveland HUD tenants, and Longwood Concerned Residents all split the settlement.

 THEFT BY THE STATE

             Betty went to the Laundromat to wash her clothes and then she went to get food.  When she got back everything she owned was gone.  The Ohio Department of Transportation came by with a huge dump truck and cleaned up all of Betty’s stuff including a bag with all her identification and money.  ODOT is responsible for maintenance of bridges that cross over a road or freeway.  They receive periodic complaints about homeless people staying under freeway overpasses.

             NEOCH protested these sweeps of homeless people’s stuff without warning.  In other cities, homeless coalitions have successfully sued municipalities over the illegal seizure of homeless people’s belongings, and the city or state had to pay for the confiscated items.  An agreement was reached by which ODOT would give warning to outreach workers before they sent a dump truck.

  Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine, Issue #43, July-August 2000