By Michelle Martin
Imagine the burden of carrying your belongings with you, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For many Cleveland homeless like Tony Gentile, this is a reality. Cleveland is currently lacking storage lockers for homeless people to use in order to keep their important documents, a change of clothing, and other personal items. Lost or misplaced documents often makes obtaining city services, and ultimately, getting back on their feet more difficult. Mr. Gentile summarizes it by saying, “If you walk into a potential employer’s office carrying all your worldly possessions, it does something to your credibility.”
Changes at area shelters have left a huge demand for storage lockers and the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, along with Mr. Gentile, are asking for the community’s support in obtaining storage lockers for our homeless citizens. According to Mr. Gentile, this project started earlier in the summer of 2002. NEOCH and Mr. Gentile are asking local social service agencies for non-committal letters of support to help in acquiring space for lockers. A rally for the homeless is tentatively scheduled in November to start at 2100 Lakeside and end at City Council. After several letters of support are received, NEOCH and Mr. Gentile hope to discuss with the Cleveland City Council the possible use of city buildings for a nominal daily fee.
Other cities such as Atlanta, Cincinnati, and Denver have adopted plans to help the homeless with their storage needs. Those plans are being looked at in hopes of helping Clevelanders with similar situations. Gentile is soliciting letters of support for his campaign. He has met with a few providers and is going to forward his letters to City Council and Cuyahoga County.
Published by the Homeless Grapevine Cleveland Ohio November 2002 Issue 57