Local Homeless News Briefs

Homeless Grapevine Cleveland, Ohio August 2002

 Homeless Man Dies on Near West Side

        Rodney Lucas, 43, died August 13 on the near west side as he struggled with disease on the streets of Cleveland. West Side Catholic Center and St. Malachi coordinated a memorial for Lucas who was a day laborer for years. As a veteran, he had lived in Texas, Georgia and Ohio. 50 people attended his memorial to remember a friend who many who spoke at the remembrance said was a “quiet and thoughtful” man.

 Resident Committee Victory at 2100 Lakeside:

        Since the publication of the last Grapevine a great deal has changed at 2100 Lakeside men’s shelter. The tension level has certainly decreased. A new director and program director were hired. Many of the worst staff were fired and or transferred. The two organizers of the petition drive were allowed to return to the shelter. And the biggest victory according to the Resident Committee members was that the County heeded the desires of 350 men who signed the petition asking for the issuance of a new scope of services, and the County will soon issue a request for qualifications. This RFQ could lead to a new social service provider operating the shelter in early 2003.

        The men are now allowed into the facility at 4 p.m. They are allowed in the patio area during the day after they leave the Cosgrove Center at 1 p.m. and they can use the restrooms during the day. The patio will be a cold place to stay this winter. The facility is still closed all day, but these changes have made the facility tolerable according to a number of the men who stay at the shelter at night interviewed in early August.

        Duane Drotar, who previously worked at the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and the Volunteers of America was hired at the Director of 2100 Lakeside. He has a grand plan to change the shelter, but there is still a question whether he can negotiate the complicated Salvation Army bureaucracy. Ron Reinhart, formerly Director of the Salvation Army PASS program, was moved over to 2100 Lakeside to oversee day to day operations.

        Raymond Robinson appealed his termination from the shelter, and was informed that he could return to the shelter. Unfortunately, Robinson moved to Florida before the decision was made. Robinson had organized the petition drive and the involvement of the City Council in attempting to improve the shelter. After some tension at his hearing in which the Army staff tried to exclude Brian Davis of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless from attending the hearing, the shelter staff finally relented.

        Much of the early summer was spent negotiating between the Resident Committee and the Salvation Army facilitated by Councilman Joe Cimperman to lower the tension at the shelter. Councilman Cimperman and Ruth Gillett of the Office of Homeless Services held a meeting in August to hear from the men what they would like to see in a scope of service. These comments along with others will be the basis for the release of a Request for Qualifications.

        The Grapevine received a copy of a letter the Salvation Army sent to the County claiming that they would not respond to the draft Request for Qualifications and reminding the County that they hold the lease on the shelter at 2100 Lakeside. It is unclear what would happen if the Salvation Army chose not to respond to the Request for Qualifications or if this letter was just stating that the Army staff would not provide input on the draft. It seems that if one qualified organization responds it would be difficult for the County to side step the bidding process and give the contract to the Salvation Army.

 Salvation Army Moves PASS

        Over the objections of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and many of the residents, the Salvation Army moved the PASS program from a free standing building into the Harbor Light building. Harbor Light contains emergency shelters and a corrections pre-release center. Many feared that this would change the family atmosphere of the transitional housing shelter.

        Cuyahoga County and the Department of Housing and Urban Development approved the move over the objections of NEOCH and many residents. An alum of the program who visited the shelter now that it is in Harbor Light said that the atmosphere is much different. Staff have said that many of their benefits were changed and the Salvation Army is attempting to alter programming offered.

 Triumph House News:

        The Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority operated a transitional housing program called Triumph House in the Carl B. Stokes mall. The facilities housed mothers and their young children who found themselves homeless, and was operated by a sub-contractor under the name of Triumph House. The shelter abruptly closed in June after a negative review by Cuyahoga County. Many of the families were transferred to another facility by early August only 5 to 6 families remained. The program is currently being sustained by volunteers.

        CMHA is going to issue a request for a new social service provider to operate the facility.

 What to do about the growing number of homeless people around East 18th St.?

        In early 2000, the number of men that sleep outside or exist on the sidewalks dramatically fell. With the opening of the new shelter at 2100 Lakeside which did not exclude people, and the dinner offered at the Bishop Cosgrove Center, there was always a place to go inside. There were very few who chose to stay outside in the harsh winters or the brutal summers in the last two years. In fact, when the Coalition for the Homeless spent a November weekend walking the Downtown neighborhood, they found only seven people staying outside. In November of 1999, there were 35-40 people sleeping in the neighborhood.

        In early 2002, the shelter at Lakeside began turning people away and began phasing out their day services. The Bishop Cosgrove Center phased out their night meal in 2001, and in the late afternoon the women in the Women’s Shelter have no where to go. This has caused much anxiety by the neighbors, the police, and pedestrians in the neighborhood who have reported defecation outside, blocking the sidewalk, and aggressive solicitation.

        The 400 men at the day shelter are released at around the same time in the morning. They then walk either to the Cosgrove Center or to the temporary labor companies. Then at 1 p.m. the men are released to the streets to wait for the shelter to open at 4 p.m. This fractured service to the population is at the root of the problems in the neighborhood. Concern is growing that we will return to the years of past when hundreds of people were in the neighborhood with no where to go.

Published in the Homeless Grapevine, Cleveland Ohio August 2002 Issue 56