Shelter Residents Never Got to Ask the Mayor…

     In late October, the men who stay at 2100 Lakeside Shelter were supposed to meet with the two candidates running for Mayor of Cleveland. The event dissolved for many reasons, but the men had worked on a series of questions for the perspective Mayor. We present those here still waiting for an answer from the new Mayor. These are the issues that homeless men have expressed concern, and will pursue.

1. The City of Cleveland has been in recession since the fourth quarter of 2000. The finances are nearly unable to be audited, but in all likely hood Cleveland is broke. With both the County and the State making huge budget cuts, will you as Mayor cut services to homeless people in order to balance the budget. If no, how will you balance the budget of the City of Cleveland?

2. How will you make up the cuts to the mental health system by the State and County so that homeless mentally ill are not forced to sleep on the streets? How would you increase funding to fund residential mental health institutions for homeless people with a severe mental illness?

3. We all know that there are many programs that exist in our community, but we cannot find out the information about all of them. We need a place to go that would have information on housing, shelter, jobs, training, and education. How would you fund a central place for homeless people to get information about all the services that exist in our community?

4. We do not have the information to point us in the right directions. There is a great need to improve the training for all staff at the shelters. Shouldn’t the staff at the shelters be better trained to be more knowledgeable of all the services that exist in the community so we can move on to self-sufficiency.

5. How would you make all the properties that were renovated and are sitting empty as well as all those buildings that are sitting abandoned available to homeless people and low income people to live in?

6. How would you expand the number of transitional beds for homeless people to move into permanent housing?

7. In other cities there are programs called direct housing, which provide vouchers to fragile populations (mentally ill, families, etc.) when they are being evicted. These programs have intensive supportive services associated with them so that a caseworker shows up every day to help the family. This saves the community money in providing buildings because these vouchers can be used anywhere. We do not need to spend money on sheltering people while they wait for housing, and these programs are successful in other communities. How would you get this type of program started in Cleveland?

8. Would you appoint one staff person within your administration to work on the problems of homelessness in Cleveland?

9. Some police officers are inappropriately harsh and lack an understanding of the needs of homeless people. Would you offer sensitivity training classes to police officers to educate them on the needs of homeless people?

10. Right now there are very few bars available for us to lift ourselves off of the streets especially in finding housing. How would you make more bars available to us to lift ourselves out of the shelters, and provide us a hand up?

11. How would you improve the services at JTPA, the one stop career center over on Payne Ave., so it is advertised and available to homeless people?

12. There are not enough places for people to pay for short term housing emergencies except the poverty motels or places like the horrible Jay Hotel. How would you create places where people can pay rent on a short term basis that may also have services available? We need places where homeless people can stay that they can pay rent to move back to self sufficiency.

13.Most shelters are overcrowded. If we had more opportunities to move on to stable housing these shelters would not be full. These suggestions that we have made need to be taken into account by the next Mayor and the staff person assigned to work on homelessness. You need to be aware of these problems and start to develop more opportunities for homeless people to move into housing. Would you if elected be willing to meet with us and our representatives on a regular basis to discuss the issues? Please answer yes or no and then you can expand on the concept.

14. What is your position on funding a Community Hiring Hall run by and for day laborers? If you will not fund it will you provide space or assist in getting the hiring hall employment contracts?

15. Will you appoint a task force with homeless people well represented to develop a plan in our community to deal with homelessness?

16. What would you do to improve homeless people’s access to medicine, doctors, and getting a medical card? We need a health care advocate to get us the proper health care from the hospitals and clinics

Copyright NEOCH published 2002 Issue 52