First Person Account: One Stop Center Routinely Ignores Homeless People
by Pete Domanovic
I would like to express my gratitude to the Homeless Grapevine for bringing to light the problems within the homeless system. My concern is with the One Stop Career Center, at East 13th & Payne. One issue that needs further examination is how the One Stop Center that helps people find jobs but refuses to work with homeless people. I stay in a shelter and here is my experience with the One Stop Center.
After I had first applied, I was pretty much refused because I was homeless. Missing my first opportunity to go to school, I finally made it into the training in December 2001. The system was going to pay me a small amount for expenses, ($6.50 per school day) every two weeks. I didn’t get a check for two months. They started giving me larger checks to catch up on the ones I had not received.
The school I had chosen was probably one of the best in the field and lasted for seventeen weeks. It was only a couple of days after I had graduated that they put me in a job that paid $10.00 an hour. All I needed now were some necessary and accurate tools. I faxed my tool list ($281.00). They didn’t get it. For five weeks, the company faxed the tool list. I faxed the tool list to the One Stop Center, but staff at the Center kept saying they never got it.
I finally took off from work to take the list to them. My counselor wasn’t there, so I left it at the front desk and they said she would get it. She said she never did get it. Finally, my employer told me that it was my last day at work unless I had my tools. I took the tool list again, and this time waited for her to get to the office. I put the list in her hand. She filled out the paper work and I was off to Catholic Charities to get the voucher.
Then it turned out that the allowance check was screwed-up. It seems that I had been overpaid $26.00. Therefore, I could not have the tools until that was repaid. Well, that was my last day on the job. (I paid the $26.00 two days later).
After working the temp agency for about a month, I went back to see what else I could do. They showed a lot of concern and took me around to different offices to tell my story. They made me an appointment for about three weeks later with another councilor. After telling him what had happened, he informed me that they had lost my records, and referred me to the state employment agency, which has not once returned a call.
If you don’t know anything about beating dead horses, they will not get up and do what needs to be done. After writing this article, they enticed me with bus tickets to come to their office and discuss what could be done. They offered me the normal resources that should have been offered from the start. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to trust more of my time to this agency that just erased me at their whim. I told them I would think about it, and they were nice enough to give me two bus tickets. The final insult was that the bus tickets were expired.
I lost a good job over $26.00 and inept or poor staff at the One Stop Center. I bet that I am not the only one who has had this experience at the One Stop. Many homeless people that I talked to had similar problems.
Copyright The Homeless Grapevine Issue 59, February-March 2003, Cleveland, Ohio