Editor’s Note: In this issue of the Grapevine we compile the recommendations for the new Mayor of Cleveland, Jane Campbell. After 12 years of ignoring or criminalizing homelessness, Mayor White is retiring. Enclosed on page 6-7 are recommendations from homeless people and advocates.
Dear Mayor Campbell:
There is not enough safe decent affordable houses or apartments available in Greater Cleveland. We thank incoming Mayor Jane Campbell for focusing on the housing needs of those who elected her to lead the Rock ‘n’ Roll City. She has correctly articulated the desperate need of community development organizations and leaders to come together to address this affordable housing crisis and has surrounded herself with some of the most competent housing advocates to be a part of her transition team.
We ask that in this transition period Mayor elect Campbell keep in mind three people who represent a growing segment of our population who have trouble affording even affordable housing. Brenda was hospitalized earlier this year and lost her job and soon after her apartment. Since recovering from her life threatening illness, she has only found part time work and cannot find a landlord who will rent to her. Thomas stays with his mother in the downtown area and works full time. He has only found work at a temporary labor company, and cannot afford an apartment on his near minimum wage salary.
Paula’s husband died and she has two children to nurture. Paula has a disability that should prevent her from working, but she found that she could not feed her children surviving only on her disability payment. She has taken a telemarketing job. Even with her disability and her job she cannot find housing for her family and stays with her mother.
Demand for housing for Brenda, Paula and Thomas is so fierce that Brenda wonders on a daily basis why she is being punished. Paula has nearly given up on her dream of a place of her own for her family and feels that she is left waiting for a miracle. People who can find only low wage work, part time or no work at all and those with a disability are part of the diverse fabric of Cleveland. They do the work that very few others want to do or survive with life long debilitating health conditions and they all deserve a roof.
Our new leadership team in Cleveland can make Paula’s miracle come true by focusing on developing housing for our citizens who can least afford the high cost of rent. We can avoid the huge drain on local human service budgets that are constantly attempting to address Paula, Thomas, and Brenda’s emergencies. We can address their long term poverty by stabilizing them in housing and bringing social workers to help. Unfortunately, we cannot rely on the federal government riding in to rescue us from this critical shortage of housing. We need a strong team assembled to focus on building housing with the support services to keep struggling families and individuals in the housing that is developed.
Thomas, Brenda and Paula and her children have great potential, but need a stable place to grow and prosper. We ask that you remember these three as you take the reigns of this wonderful city.
Brian P. Davis
Copyright NEOCH published January 2002 in Cleveland Ohio Issue 52